Spotted Saddle Horse: Breed Profile

There is something absolutely breathtaking about zebras, and the spotted pommel was created to embody the beauty of the zebra and the smooth ride of the gait horse. Much like the compact Tennessee walking horse, this breed is perfect for a variety of uses, from trail riding to show. There are many other characteristics of the Spotted Saddle Horse, such as steady feet and a calm nature, that make it a popular choice for many riders today.

Variety Overview

weight: 900 to 1,000 lbs

high: 14.3 to 16 lots

Body type: A well-built, light-weight horse with a short back and a muscular chest

Most suitable: Off-Road Riding, Recreational Riding and Competition

Life expectancy: 25 to 30 years old

The History and Origins of the Spotted Saddle Horse

This striking breed originated in middle Tennessee. Breeders cross the Tennessee Walker and Missouri Foxtrot with zebras, resulting in gait horses with beautiful zebra colors. These horses are primarily bred for recreation and off-road riding. Other breeds were added later, including the Standard Breed, Mustang, Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos, to further complete the breed. Through the development of the Spotted Saddle Horse, there has been a focus on preserving the breed’s natural gait, while also producing horses with dappled coats that are great for riding.

The Tennessee Walker still has a significant influence on the Spotted Saddle today, with many of these horses being double registered as Tennessee Walker and Spotted Saddle.

Speckled pommel size

These horses have a lighter stature and are ideal for riding. They are usually between 14.3 and 16 hands tall, and most horses weigh between 900 and 1,100 pounds. The ideal horse has a short back, a muscular chest and a delicate head.

Breeding and Use

Today, the spotted pommel is a popular show mount. You may find these horses taking a variety of courses, including recreational, hands-on and driving. These horses impress on the show arena, but their comfortable gait also makes them ideal for recreational and trail riding.

Thoroughbreds can be registered in two breed registries. The National Spotted Pommel Association was established in 1979 and prioritizes the use of only humane training and showmanship. The registry prohibits trainers, owners and riders from using equipment such as stacked shoes, weighted shoes and fixed chains. The Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, established in 1985, is also a breed registry. To register with the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association, a horse must have white markings above its hocks, excluding facial markings.

colors and markings

The spotted pommel is an eye-catching, colorful breed. These horses can be found in any base colour with pattern markings, overo and tobiano coat patterns are very common. A pure-coated horse bred by a registered sire and dam can obtain status registration, which means the horse can go on to produce spotted offspring, which can then be registered as a spotted saddle horse.

Unique Features of the Spotted Pommel Horse

Spotted pommel horses are known not only for their beautiful colors, but also for their gait. This breed can perform a slow gait that is more comfortable than a trot because one foot is always on the ground and the gait has no pauses. These horses also perform the traditional four-beat walk, free and ground cover, and jogging. Some are also capable of racking, foxtrotting, stepping, and other slow gaits that provide the rider with a smooth ride.

This breed is also known for having a great temperament. These horses tend to be calm, friendly, and trustworthy. Steady, composed, and capable of navigating challenging terrain on the trails.

Diet and Nutrition

Spotted pommel horses generally require a diet consisting of high-quality hay and grains, and pasture, if available. Some of these horses may be easy to keep and require fewer calories to maintain their weight. A horse’s diet also depends on the amount and type of physical activity it does. Horses on long rides on demanding trails may need more hay and grain to supplement the calories they burn.

Common Health and Behavioral Issues

Spotted pommel horses tend to be quite healthy. It’s important to realize that because the breed is heavily influenced by breeds such as the Tennessee Walker and Missouri Foxtrot, the spotted pommel may be at higher risk for degenerative suspensory ligamentitis (DSLD) than some other breeds. DSLD is an incurable genetic disorder that causes ligament and tendon pain in the legs to worsen. Horses with a gait are often affected by this condition, which often requires the horse to withdraw from riding and eventually be euthanized as the condition progresses.

In terms of behavior, this breed is known for being friendly, well-mannered, and helpful. Spotted pommel horses tend to be calm, a desirable trait for cross country horses. They are also known for having great stamina and being easy to work with.


Because these horses have white coat markings, owners face some grooming challenges in getting their coats completely clean. When preparing the horse for the show, it is imperative to take a bath to clean the white-haired area. Spot treatment with a stain removal spray can also help remove minor marks and stains. Even with careful grooming and care, white legs can easily stain. Car owners may choose to use whitening shampoo in these areas, and many riders will use whitening enhancers or chalk to make their white legs shine on the runway.


  • Smooth, comfortable gait

  • calm temperament

  • nice, gorgeous look


  • May be easy to develop DSLD

  • Kind of rare, so you might have to go and get a speckled pommel

Champions and celebrities discover pommel horses

Spotted saddle horses are growing in popularity, and the National Spotted Saddle Horse Association often crowns champions. There are currently no celebrity spotted pommel horses.

Is the spotted pommel right for you?

The Spotted Saddle Horse is the ideal mount for many riders thanks to its smooth gait and calm disposition. If you’re looking for a trusty off-road horse, a horse that’s comfortable to ride, or a good looking horse that’s sure to stand out in the show arena, this breed might be just for you. These horses can be up to 16 hands in size, so they are also great mounts for taller riders.

How to Adopt or Buy a Spotted Saddle Horse

If you’re looking to buy a spotted pommel, you can find one for sale nearby. These horses are popular across the country and are relatively inexpensive. Prices start around $4,000 for young horses with some training, though prices will vary based on your location, pedigree, training and the show record of the horse you are considering. Consider contacting your local trail riding and gait horse herd, as they may be able to connect you with a reputable breeder or trainer and sell these horses.

Spotted Saddle Horses can also be obtained through local horse rescues. Whether you’re looking to adopt or buy a horse, be sure to bring a knowledgeable trainer with you to help ensure the horse is right for your needs. Consider investing in a pre-purchase inspection to identify any current health issues that may affect a horse’s suitability.

More horse breeds

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

Otherwise, you can view all of our other horse breed profiles.