The Rocky Mountain Horse shows the American genius for innovation and adaptation. Its development has occurred over a remarkably short time; so short, that it is not yet considered to have sufficiently fixed characteristics to qualify for recognition as a breed. A registry opened in 1986 and now 200 are registered.
Its origins are, like those of many American horses, with the early Spanish imports and the subsequent Mustang stock. The credit for this distinctive animal, however, belongs to Sam Tuttle of Stout Springs, Kentucky, who ran the riding concession at Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Mr. Tuttle had a stallion, Old Tobe, who was a favorite with the riders, and ideally suited to the rugged foothills of the Appalachians. Old Tobe, still active at 37, was a prepotent sire who passed on his good temperament, sure-footedness and natural, ambling gait, which was a legacy of his Spanish forebears.
The Rocky Mountain Horse is judged largely on the quality of its gait, which produces speeds of between 7mph for comfortable traveling and 16mph on good going and for shorter distances. The type is said to be hardy and well able to tolerate cold, mountain winters.
The head is handsome and is joined to a graceful neck that is longer than might be expected. This feature contributes significantly in the good overall balance. The withers are not sharply defined but the structure of the back and its gently ascent to the croup is comfortable. The outline of the Rocky Mountain Horse is pleasingly rounded and the proportions uniformly good. The limbs are well made and the hooves hard and nicely shaped. The Rocky Mountain Horse is noted for its sure-footedness and easy way of going. The full, flaxen tail and mane is a distinctive feature of the breed, and is the perfect complement to the unusual, rich chocolate coat. Though not fixed, the height tends to be 14.2-15hh.
Reference: The Ultimate Horse Book; Elwyn Hartley Edwards; 1991
Rocky Mountain Horse Association
Dusty Loop Ranch
KB Rocky Mountain Horses
Reference photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Horses
Background photo courtesy of Coon Brance Farm