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About KNGHA

The KNGHA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse of Eastern Kentucky.  The Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse, also known as the KY Saddler or Country Saddle Horse, is a naturally gaited breed dating back to the early settlers and Civil War era.

Our ancestors took great pride in nurturing the qualities that set this breed apart from others, primarily their sure footed trail abilities and gentle disposition.  The KNGHA is devoted to protecting this legendary bloodline through breeding for the "true" qualities of the old Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse.  We are committed to preserving, promoting and showing this breed.

Come, join us in our endeavor.  Become a part of the legacy of the Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse.


What you need to know about the KNGHA:

The Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse Association is a registry dedicated to promoting, preserving, & enhancing the breeding & showing of the breed of horse know to be from the bloodline of the original Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse.  This horse has taken on many names throughout its history.  Some of these names include:  the Kentucky Saddler, Country Saddler, Country Pleasure Horse, Mixed Gaited Horse, Mountain Horse and the Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse.  This association is dedicated to protecting the legacy of this legendary "old" gaited bloodline.  Formed in 2000 the KNGHA is a not-for-profit organization registered & incorporated in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Foundation books are now open for registration of the natural gaited horse.


KNGHA Goals:

The registry's goals are to breed for the true old natural gaited horse qualities and characteristics & to recognize & promote the improvements of the breed without compromising the horse or what it stands for.

*         Remain dedicated to the promotion, preservation and enhancement of the breeding and showing of the natural gaited horse of today.

*        Establish the lineage of the natural gaited horse through DNA Testing to construct a firm and accurate foundation for the breed and the association.

*       To promote breeding that is consistent with the characteristics of the horse. This consists of good temperament, natural flowing 4 beat gait, good conformation-well proportioned to its body structure, sure-footed, instinct for self-preservation, people oriented/friendly, intelligence, stamina, sensibility, etc.

*        Work toward the natural gaited horse being recognized as a breed through the Breed Conservatory and the University of Kentucky.
*         To raise the natural gaited horse to a national level/recognition in the show and trail arenas.

*         To establish and maintain a factual breed heritage and comply with the  process and guidelines necessary for establishing a formalized breed.

*       Establish the 4 beat gait as being recognized as being natural and smooth flowing for the horse while performing the gait at variable speeds.

*         To encourage and support membership involvement on all levels. Membership responsibilities include employing the board of directors to carry out the member's ideas and actions that are best suited for the natural gaited horse.  The membership will direct all promotions, advertising and association practices.  The membership is to be the voice of the natural gaited horse and the association is to be the vehicle for progress and stability of the natural gaited horse.

*         To educate future generations on the natural gaited horse and the importance of showing the horse the respect it deserves.


Meet the KY Natural Gaited Horse:

The natural gaited horse epitomizes integrity, honor, grace, dignity, and determination.  This breed has maintained these innate standards for over 150 years. The natural gaited horse is a legendary part of the history of Kentucky, especially of the eastern foothills & mountains.  This horse has played an integral but often silent part in our state's growth & progression.  For example during the Civil War this breed impartially accompanied many KY men into the battlefield and carried those home to their families, that did not survive.  From the formation of the railroad to the coal boom era, none would have been possible with out the assistance provided by this breed.

 The old mountaineers bred for characteristics & qualities that would assist in simplifying their lives.  It is believed that the breed originated from the mixing of different breeds of horses that suited ones own needs.  Two characteristics that were of utmost importance were intelligence & surefootedness.  This enhanced their calm temperament, & provided for an abundance of stamina & a good instinct for self-preservation.  Thusly, depending on what area of Eastern KY one was in would dictate which characteristics appeared to be most dominant.    One area would breed for more flashiness or style while another would breed for more color or endurance & so on.  Despite what characteristics were valued most, this breed has been able to maintain character & quality through out the years.

 For many, the natural gaited horse has been a life-long friend and a part of their heritage.  Society today is in an economical position where this horse can be completely admired & enjoyed vs. being used for survival.  KNGHA believes this breed has always earned respect within the confines of Eastern KY.  However, those outside of these boundaries  & communities are being deprived of the wonderful pleasure brought about by the natural gaited horse.  Therefore, the KNGHA's goal is to spread the natural gaited horse word to all of those who are interested and may possibly want to be a part of enjoying & preserving this breed.

 The KNGHA was formed to preserve the original qualities of the breed of horse that originated in Kentucky in the 1800's. Most notably is the perseverance of a natural four beat gait that is rhythmic and appealing to the eye.  The capability of the horse to maintain this gait over numerous miles without wear to the rider spurred popularity that continues today.  Other characteristics include a remarkable calm and good-natured disposition, the ability to concisely maneuver in all types of terrain, the overall intelligence of the horse especially in intense frightening situations, and the loyalty it shows to its human counterpart.  The Natural Gaited Horse is a loyal friend; a true trail companion and can easily carry to you to your destination.  The Natural Gaited Horse is an easy keeper and is glad to see you when you come calling.  You can amble down the trail all day and rack into the show ring that evening.  Stallions are often trail ridden and shown in the same classes as mares.  Most importantly, the Natural Gaited Horse is a horse for the entire family.  To the elderly the ride is smooth and easy. 

 For those new to this horse the limited historical documentation states it is a result of mixing the best of the early gaited breeds of the United States.  Preliminary research conducted by the University of Kentucky has verified that the natural gaited horse originated from the same foundation stock as other American gaited horse breeds.  Until the University of Kentucky completes research no one can be for certain which breed or breeds mostly influenced the development of the horse we have today. 

  However, assuming history is correct, by crossing the KY Saddler with Thoroughbreds, Morgans, TWHs, and others produced the product we have today.  Thusly being undocumented and truly validated, until the formation of registries and associations.  The KNGHA believes that as long as we maintain the standards of expectations and characteristics we have grown to love and respect, preserving this horse will come easy. 


What makes KNGHA different from other organizations?:

Yes, there are other organizations that focus on the natural gaited horse, but the KNGHA wants to take this breed to a National Show & Trail Horse Level as well as encouraging growth through membership input & involvement.  Therefore, the success of the organization depends on the level of commitment the members are willing to give.  The KNGHA members have tackled the task of preserving the natural gaited horse with determination and perseverance.

  Many have asked why the KNGHA felt it was necessary to form another association dedicated to this undocumented bloodline of Kentucky.  The association recognized the need to find a foolproof way to ensure the future of this horse.  The best way to accomplish this goal is through DNA testing and mapping.   The past and present time is important to any endeavor; however, with preserving this bloodline the future is critical.  This association using the DNA process, in conjunction with the University of Kentucky, is working toward identifying the natural gaited horse markers and will have the ability to accurately define foundation stock or contributors of the natural gaited bloodline.

  Since the late 1980's the natural gaited horse has grown in popularity with not only those in its native state of Kentucky but from coast to coast.  This recognition has been spurred by the natural gaited horses consistency in demonstrating such qualities as smooth gait, sure footedness, calm disposition, & over all remarkable intelligence.  From the inception of several registries the perseverance of the mountain bloodline has ensued.  Today, the movement is toward providing a factual foundation through the use of DNA Testing.  The newest registry, the Kentucky Natural Gaited Horse Association (KNGHA), was the first association to see the need for mapping and tracking the natural gaited horse in this manner to more accurately identify what exactly needed to be preserved when one says, we need to preserve the natural gaited horse.

  Dr. Gus Cothran, of the University of Kentucky, has validated that DNA Testing is the way of the future for this breed as well as for others.  He stated in a recent letter to the KNGHA DNA typing is now a fully established method for parentage verification of horses.  The efficacy (ability) of DNA Testing in detecting an incorrect parentage almost always has an efficacy greater than 99.5%.

  Identifying genes such as those associated with gait, color, and disease are also a top priority for the university and the KNGHA.  The KNGHA was the first natural gaited horse association to utilize DNA Testing and has already made great strides in moving this type of horse into the 21st century.  However, to ensure long-term success and full understanding of the breed, DNA testing is essential.  Three to five generations of offspring is needed for accurate tracking and appropriate sample size for research.  The association is already working on the fourth generation for the research. The KNGHA has identified potentially devastating difficulties in the natural gaited horses future, such as not recognizing the hoses various gaiting ability and the prejudices against patterns of color.  KNGHA recognizes & honors the natural gaited horse bloodline without discriminating against excessive white or patterns of color.  A true natural gaited horse will demonstrate the breed's characteristics despite the color or the pattern of its coat.  DNA testing will provide a map of the past and a forecast for the future of the gaited horse.  Looking ahead, the KNGHA recognizes that continual improvements to an owner's breeding program will best ensure this breed's survival.


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