When the National Show Horse Registry (NSHR) was founded in 1981, the National Show Horse was recognized as a breed created by crossing the Arabian with the American Saddlebred. There are now more than 17,000 registered National Show Horses. The refinement and intelligence of the Arabian combined with the elegance, animation and size of the Saddlebred resulted in a horse that was virtually custom-made for the saddle seat discipline.
Soundness, good bone and brilliance are standard characteristics of the Arabian, while the Saddlebred influence is seen in the upright swan-like neck, high headset and elegant carriage. The National Show Horse has a very deep shoulder, a level topline and exhibits a naturally elevated way of going, particularly at the trot. Many horses have a naturally high tail carriage, but tail sets are not allowed. As a whole, the breed is quite forward-moving with very cadenced movement at all gaits.
Any color is acceptable as long as the horse is at least 50 percent Arabian. Visit any National Show Horse competition and you’ll see a variety of colors, including eye-catching pintos and palominos.
Athletic, yet refined, the National Show Horse is known for its flashy movement. Close-coupled with a fairly short back, the National Show Horse has a level topline and a deep, laid-back shoulder. Although the breed excels as a saddle seat mount, this versatile horse is also used for other English disciplines, plus carriage driving, trail riding, endurance and even western classes.
Height: 14.3 to 16.2 hands.
Colors: All colors.
Association: National Show Horse Registry, www.nshregistry.org
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This article originally appeared in the June 2010 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.