The National Show Horse originated as a cross between two distinctive breeds because of a growing need within the horse world for beautiful show horses that had refinement, size, stamina, athletic ability and high-stepping action. The overwhelming foundation breed choices for this new horse were the American Saddlebred and the Arabian horse. These two basic bloodlines have come together to produce a breed that continues to surpass its own standards. It was established as a separate breed in 1981 with the founding of its breed registry, the National Show Horse Registry (NSHR).
The mixture of these breeds combines the refinement and stamina of the Arabian with the animated action of the American Saddlebred. The resulting horse has the high-set, upright, long, swan-like neck of the Saddlebred, but it should not have a pronounced crest. The head is generally small and refined with small ears and a profile that is either straight or concave, with no Roman nose. The National Show Horse is close-coupled with a level topline and a very deep, laid back shoulder. The tail is relatively high set, natural and flowing.
The horse’s motion should be balanced with obvious power from the hindquarters flowing into an elevated front end, with the front legs showing both flexion and extension. When the horse is observed either at rest or in motion, it must display a natural presence or, when animated, it should present extreme brilliance. The horse must exhibit high carriage when either showing or relaxed.
The National Show Horse ranges in height from 14.3 to 16.2 hands high, though there may be some individual horses that are larger or smaller. And the breed comes in a variety of colors, including the traditional bay, gray, chestnut and black of the Arabian; with the American Saddlebred ancestry adding an even broader range of color, most notably including, pinto and palomino which are generally not found in the Arabian breed.
And, of course, they have the high-stepping action of the Saddlebred and can be trained to move with a very elevated front end. Most can be trained to be five-gaited by adding the slow gait and the rack to the traditional walk, trot and canter.
But the founders were not satisfied to just create a registry for a new breed; they were interested in creating a new atmosphere of excitement in the show ring, created by these spectacular horses themselves, in order to generate broader public appeal. They also designed new concepts and formats for their shows by adding incentives through a prize money system that would make it financially rewarding for the exhibitors to show their horses, as well as generate enthusiasm for both exhibitors and spectators.
Throughout the creation of this special breed, the NSHR took steps to make a variety of combinations possible of the three foundation breeds, Arabian, Saddlebred and National Show Horse, in order to produce a registerable National Show Horse. The simplistic version is that in order to be registered as a National Show Horse, a foal may be the offspring of two registered National Show Horse parents or it may be a combination between an American Saddlebred, Arabian, and a National Show Horse. However, the more complex version is that a specific set of rules must be followed when combining any of these three breeds to make a National Show Horse. Breeders may use only mares of those three breeds and the resulting foal is only eligible for registration when the mare is bred to the appropriate stallion so that the foal has no less than 25% but not more than 99% Arabian blood. These breeding combinations are as follows:
— Registered National Show Horse mares with 50% or more Arabian blood may be bred to stallions of any of the three breeds.
— Registered National Show Horse mares with LESS than 50% Arabian blood may not be bred to a Saddlebred stallion but may be bred to either a National Show Horse or an Arabian stallion.
— Registered American Saddlebred mares may be bred to a Registered National Show Horse stallion with 50% or more Arabian blood; or to an Arabian stallion.
— Registered Arabian mares may be bred to either a National Show Horse or a Saddlebred stallion.
In addition, non-National Show Horse mares and stallions must be registered with their respective breed registries (either Arabian or American Saddlebred). And the stallions that are registered as Arabian or Saddlebreds must also be both nominated and approved by the NSHR board of directors before they can be used for breeding a registerable National Show Horse foal. All foals who were born in 1999 or later, as well as all broodmares, must have their blood type/DNA information on file with the NSHR before a foal can be registered.
As for genetic anomalies, Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis (DSLD) is a possible disorder of this breed. Veterinarians do not yet know if Degenerative Suspensory Ligament Desmitis (DSLD) has its roots in genetics, overuse of affected limbs, hormone fluctuations (previously-sound broodmares may develop symptoms of DSLD around foaling time), or if it is some combination of these factors. Although the condition is probably best known in gaited breeds (American Saddlebreds, Peruvian Pasos, Peruvian crosses, Standardbreds, and National Show Horses), it has also been diagnosed in Arabians, Thoroughbreds, and Andalusians. DSLD is a progressive and rare condition and horses that develop it show increasing lameness, usually accompanied by physical changes in their pasterns as their suspensory ligaments lose their elasticity. Veterinarians caution that symptoms differ greatly per horse, but early signs might include stiffness in gait, change in attitude, and a reluctance to work.
But the exciting and new National Show Horse breed is a very versatile saddle-seat breed, that can also be used for show jumping, dressage, endurance or western riding, and with the new show formats and concept, it is destined to become a truly national breed.
By DariuszSankowski from Pixabay