Gaited Crossbreed Horse
5 Gaited Crossbreeds
Trail riders find a comfortable ride, a willing nature, and trail savvy in these hardy horses.
Crossbreeds while not breeds in the true sense of the word, but a combination of two or more established breeds are filling a niche for trail riders. They're usually the result of a breeder's curiosity: What if I crossed this fine breed with that one? The smartest, most willing, and most athletic equine results of such breedings endure, as their aficionados form registries to set standards, control breeding, and track lineages.
It's easy to see why gaited crossbreeds in particular abound, especially among those who ride on the trail. Gaited crossbreed owners typically love the qualities of a particular breed, but also want a smooth gait to take them on their adventures.
Here, we introduce you to five smooth-gaited crossbreeds: the Gaited Curly Horse, the Gaited Mule, the Gaited Pony, the Tennuvian Horse, and the Walkaloosa. (The latter not only can be crossbreeds, but also smooth-gaited members of the foundation Appaloosa breed.)
For each crossbreed, we give you history highlights and a brief description. Then we relay what owners tell us and on-trail accounts. Finally, we provide registry and breeder resources, should you desire more information.
Gaited Curly Horse:
History highlights: Curly-coated horses have been found in Chinese art dating back to 161 A.D. It's a mystery how the breed reached our shores. Some theorize that they crossed a former land bridge over today's Bering Strait, while others believe they arrived in the Northwest with Russian settlers in the 1700s. There are also those who believe the first curly horses arrived with Spanish explorers 400 years ago, eventually joining wild herds in the Southwest. Pictographs from the early 1800s show Sioux and Crow Indians riding curly-coated horses.
Modern history of the American Bashkir Curly begins in 1898, when a young Peter Damele and his father rode upon three curly horses in the high country of the Peter Hanson Mountains in central Nevada. Then, around 1931, the Dameles brought home a curly-coated horse from a local mustang herd, trained him, and sold him. After the particularly harsh winter of 1932, the Dameles observed that curly horses survived the severe conditions better than their flat-coated brothers. It wasn't long before the family started to use curly horses in their breeding program.
Today, some Gaited Curly Horses are descendants of the Damele horses. Breeders also diligently cross their Curly Horses with another gaited breed, such as the Missouri Fox Trotter, to produce a Gaited Curly Horse.
There are relatively few Gaited Curly Horses, and we worried about problems from severe inbreeding. So the International Curly Horse Association was formed by more progressive members of the community who believed that such inbreeding was unacceptable. The ICHO allows us to breed our valuable curly foundation horses with the finest straight-haired horses, like our Missouri Fox Trotters. We breed top-quality Gaited Curly Horses that are dual registered with the ICHO and the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association.
Gaited Curly description: According to the ICHO, all Curly Horses that perform an intermediate/soft gait are eligible to be included in the Gaited Curly Association. A gait and conformation analysis will be done, and all accepted Curlies will be issued a certificate of approval and receive an analysis on their Curly for gait, conformation and breeding quality.
The sweetness and intelligence of Gaited Curlies is endearing. Discerning riders want something special: smooth gait and good temperament, and the curl and color are like icing on the cake.
If you wish to buy a Gaited Curly, Seek out owners and breeders for information. There are only about 400 Gaited Curly Horses in the world they're very rare and many people won't part with their well-trained adult horses. So consider a young horse; youngsters are very sweet, trainable, and a joy to watch grow.
Find a mentor who understands the conformation and gaits of Gaited Curlies, and learn as much as you can. Most Gaited Curlies can perform a variety of soft gaits and will prefer one or two naturally.
History highlights: A mule is the result of crossing two species, the horse and the donkey. Top gaited-mule breeder Bill Moore of Shelbyville, Tennessee, has a photograph of his mother on a gaited mule that his grandfather bred in the 1940s, using a Tennessee Walking Horse crossed on a jack (donkey stallion) of Old Grey John stock.
Riding them, is like having a Jeep in the mountains and a Cadillac on the straight away.
For scores of years, farmers have been breeding gaited horses to jacks in the hopes of producing a gaited mule that would be strong and reliable working in the fields, as well as provide a smooth ride under saddle.
Many people use Fox Trotters or Paso Finos or other gaited mares with great success. Baby boomers are ringing my phone off the wall there are just not enough gaited mules to go around!
In 1993, Bill Moore was elected the first president of the American Gaited Mule Association. The following year, the North American Saddle Mule Association added a section on gaited mules to its rule book; in 1995, the first gaited-mule classes were held. With an increasing interest in gaited mules, the AGMA looks forward to a bright future.
Gaited mule description: According to Marie Lanier, owner of R&M Gaited Mules located in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, a gaited mule is any mule that has a smooth gait (other than a walk) that's distinct from a trot. Examples include the single-foot, fox-trot, rack, running walk, stepping pace, and paso fino. The gaited mule's size and color will depend on that of its parents.
A gaited mare to the gaited jack, we have virtually a 100 percent chance that the mule will gait.
A good mule's personality is like your puppy. Mules have a tendency to bond with people better than horses.
History highlights: The Gaited Pony isn't a cross of two distinct breeds; rather, it's any pony that exhibits smooth gaits. Ponies have long been appreciated for their intelligence, hardiness, and load-carrying ability. When you add smooth gait to the equation, who can resist the Gaited Pony?
Parents realize when they're teaching children to ride that a youngster can get bounced right out of the saddle on a trotting horse. Imagine how much easier for them to learn on a Gaited Pony. And ponies aren't just for kids; they're also for the young at heart. Any small adult, or a rider with bad knees or challenges mounting a tall horse, will appreciate them. A Gaited Pony will give you the smoothest trail ride you've ever had.
Gaited Pony description: For entry into the AGPR, a pony must mature no taller than 14.2 hands high (58 inches) at the withers. He must exhibit a saddle gait other than a trot, such as a running walk, fox trot, pace, or rack. Gait verification may be conducted either in person or via a videotape. If the pony is less than 4 years old, temporary papers are issued; permanent registration is awarded when he reaches age 4 and still stands 14.2 hands or less. The AGPR also tracks the lineage and size of registered ponies; such information is valuable for those making breeding decisions.
Gaited Ponies and youth riders are a match made in heaven.
History highlights: The Tennuvian is a cross between a Tennessee Walking Horse and a Peruvian Horse. The Walking Horse originated in the bluegrass region of middle Tennessee in the mid-1880s, bred by farmers to work the fields during the week and provide them a comfortable ride to town on weekends. Their most valued trait was their running walk, a ground-covering, smooth-as-silk gait.
The history of the Peruvian Horse begins more than 400 years ago, when Spanish explorers brought Iberian Horses, African Barbs, and Friesians to the New World. They carried the conquistadors over the most challenging terrain and eventually were used by settlers on Peru's vast hacienda.
Their owners carefully bred for the smooth, rocking gait, stamina, and willing natures that epitomize the Peruvian breed today. For centuries, owners maintained a closed population within their country's borders, protecting the breed by discouraging outcrossing with other breeds. Only within the last 40 years have Peruvian Horses been imported to the United States in any appreciable number.
Certainly, owners of Walking Horses and Peruvians had crossed them before the early 1990s, but it was then that Colorado resident Paula Bonser fell in love with what she officially christened the Tennuvian Horse.
The Tennuvian gaits are the best of both worlds. Generally, they're smoother than the Tennessee Walker's, and they exhibit longer strides than the Peruvian. Their unique gait a soft prance.
History highlights: If you presume that a Walkaloosa is the cross between an Appaloosa and a Tennessee Walking Horse as the name implies, you're partially correct. The Walkaloosa is any gaited horse with Appaloosa coloration.
A Walkaloosa at O'Dell Ranch Apps exhibits a colorful coat, just one of the infinite variety of eye-catching possibilities. The breed's super-smooth gait makes long days in the saddle a breeze.
A Walkaloosa can be the colorful result of crossing an Appaloosa with, for instance, a Peruvian Horse, a Paso Fino, or a Missouri Fox Trotter. Or, it can be a foundation Appaloosa Horse a purebred Appaloosa that exhibits a gait long known as the Indian Shuffle.
The foundation Appaloosa Horse traces back to the Paso Fino horses brought to the New World by Spanish explorers. Some of these horses carried the spotted coloration that is the hallmark of Appaloosas today. In addition, they also had the paso fino, literally, the fine gait.
These horses eventually found their way into the wild herds of the Southwest, then spread northward. The Nez Percé, who inhabited areas of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, were introduced to these horses around 1700. The Nez Percé became accomplished horsemen and selectively bred widely admired horses.
The most highly prized of the Nez Percé horses were distinguished by a gait inherited from their Paso Fino ancestors, later dubbed the Indian Shuffle. The shuffle is a four-beat, ground-covering, intermediate gait that's exceptionally smooth.
It's said that cowpokes who could buy a horse for $2 were eager to lay down $50 more for an Appaloosa that shuffled. The late Gene Autry, the famous singing cowboy, owned El Morocco, a gaited Appaloosa.
Walkaloosa description: The Walkaloosa is renowned for its colorful coat, bravery, endurance, and, of course, its smooth gait. In 1983, the Walkaloosa Horse Association was founded to help preserve the gaited Appaloosa. (The Appaloosa Horse Club doesn't register horses with Appaloosa coloring that have a gaited-breed parent.) The WHA was purchased in 1999 by longtime horsewoman Pem Meyer; today, Cy Brashears helps her run the Carefree, Arizona-based organization.
To be accepted for WHA registration, a horse must meet one of three qualifications: be the progeny of a registered Walkaloosa; show Appaloosa coloring and demonstrate an intermediate gait other than a trot; or be the offspring of verifiable Appaloosa and gaited-horse blood.