About Saddlebreds & FAQs
By the late 1700s, the American Saddlebred was being recognized as a unique and individual horse type, referred to as the "American Horse." With the continued addition of Thoroughbred blood to easy gaited horses, breeders saw they were creating a distinct breed. In the 1880s, breeders of this unique type of horse began to call for the formation of a breed association and registry. Charles F. Mills began compiling pedigrees and formulating rules for a registry.
Shortly thereafter, The Farmers Home Journal, a newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky, called for a meeting on April 7, 1891. Thus, on that day, the American Saddle Horse Breeders’ Association was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Under the leadership of the first Association President, John B. Castleman, the objectives of collecting, recording and preserving the pedigrees of saddle horses in America began. In 1908, after years of discussion, the Association formally acknowledged Denmark F.S. as the sole Foundation Sire of the American Saddle Horse. However, in 1991, after careful review of bloodlines, Harrison Chief 1606 was also named a Foundation Sire for his contribution to the formation of the breed.
As time went on and the registry grew in numbers of horses and members, the name American Saddle-Horse Breeders’ Association no longer reflected the expanding functions of the Association. Therefore, on April 22, 1980, the registry’s name was changed to American Saddlebred Horse Association (ASHA).
In 1985, ASHA headquarters moved from Louisville, Kentucky, to the American Saddle Horse Museum building, located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. ASHA was the first breed registry to call the Kentucky Horse Park home. The new location also brought the establishment of innovative promotional and educational programs for the further development of the American Saddlebred horse.
In 2021, during the ASHA Annual Meeting, the membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed merger between ASHA and ASR. Merger documents were filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State to officially change the name to the American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association, Inc. (ASHBA).
Today, there are approximately 7,000 active ASHBA members, 50 ASHBA Charter Clubs, and 40 ASHBA Youth Clubs. ASHBA carries out administrative, promotional and educational activities for the benefit of its members and the breed.