The versatility and athleticism that the American Saddlebred exhibits in the traditional show ring have translated into success for the breed in other disciplines as well. The Saddlebred's conformation, personality, durability and willingness to take on any task make him an elegant athlete for any sport.
- Competitive Trail Riding – This discipline shies away from pure athletic competition and places more emphasis on horsemanship. While competitive trail riding is not a race, competitors are required to cover a marked course within a given time period. The horse is judged on condition, soundness and trail ability on natural trail obstacles. The rider is judged on presentation, grooming, trail equitation, trail safety/courtesy, stabling, etc. Riders demonstrate the best methods of caring for horses during and after long rides without the aid of artificial methods or stimulants. Visit the North America Trail Ride Conference for more information.
- Dressage – The object of Dressage is the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result, it makes the horse not only calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with the rider. The horse should give the impression of doing on his own accord that which is required of him. Visit the United States Dressage Federation for more information.
- Driving – Combined driving competitions consist of three very different sections. First is the dressage test to illustrate the harmony between driver and horse as they drive a set pattern. The cross-country is a marathon where horse and driver must maneuver around and through different obstacles. The cones course is performed at the end of the competition and demonstrates how well horses have recovered physically and mentally from the stress of the marathon. Visit the American Driving Society for more information.
- Endurance – An Endurance ride is a competition to test the speed and endurance ability of the horse and the knowledge of the rider to properly use and pace his horse across country. It is an athletic event where the same horse and rider must complete a measured course within a specified time period. Throughout the course, there are predetermined check points where veterinarians determine if the horses are sound and metabolically fit to continue, or if they must be withdrawn from the ride. The horse with the fastest time wins. Visit the American Endurance Ride Conference for more information.
- Eventing (formerly known as Combined Training) – Developed from the tests for the ideal military charger, Eventing involves working a horse both on the flat and over jumps. An Eventing competition is like an equine triathlon, where horses must perform one or more tests from the following disciplines: dressage, cross-country and show jumping. The Dressage test is to demonstrate the intense training the horse and rider have achieved by performing each movement with balance, suppleness and precision timing. The Cross-Country course requires horses and riders to bravely jump over obstacles at a gallop, demonstrating their stamina. The Show Jumping portion allows the horse to display his balance and suppleness in the tight turns and short distances between the fences. Visit the United States Eventing Association for more information.
- Reining – Reining is a judged event that brings ranch type horses into the show arena to demonstrate the horse's athletic ability. Contestants are required to run one of several approved patterns, which include small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360-degree spins done in place and the exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse. Visit the National Reining Horse Association for more information.
- Show Jumping – This is an exacting sport, demanding a well-planned path of travel and testing the physical and mental stamina of horse and rider. Riders and horses jump a specially designed course of 15 to 20 obstacles within a set time limit. "Faults" (i.e., penalty points) are accumulated if the horse refuses or brings down the highest element of an obstacle, or if the time allowed is exceeded. The ultimate goal is a "clean" or no-fault round