About the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association

An Authentic Kentucky Tradition

For over 200 years, the saddle horse has lived in the hills and valleys of many parts of Kentucky. Originally bred by the mountain people for the demanding needs of farm life, the horse which had been secluded for many years became noticed and domesticated in the late 1980’s.

Over the last 20 some years these horses have become a highly sought after “pleasure horse” in all of Kentucky as well as around the world, for their easy going temperament, intelligence, versatility, willingness, and most notably, a smooth, natural 4-beat gait.

Many members of long-time Kentucky families remember well the stories of the many extraordinary feats that were told about these horses by their grandfathers and great grandfathers around the dinner table.

In 1989, Robert Robinson, Jr., a native of Irvine, Kentucky formed the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association® (KMSHA) to document and preserve the ancestry and rich heritage of the Kentucky mountain “Saddlin” horse or “KY Saddler”, as many Kentuckians have known them by originally and spoken by their ancestors.

In 2002 the Spotted Mountain Horse Association® was formed, (a subsidiary of the KMSHA) to register mountain horses that had “spots” of white that were considered too much coverage for any of the existing mountain horse breeds, in order to meet their solid color standards.

This Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and the Spotted Mountain Horse breeds, each with their own distinctive characteristics and genetic DNA markers, are recognized by the University of Kentucky, Equine Parentage Testing and Genetic Research Center as their own unique breed of Horse.

From its humble beginnings, and through its unwavering commitment to promote the breeds, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse Association® and the Spotted Mountain Horse Association® (collectively KMSHA) have grown substantially for the last twenty five years. There are now over 26,000+ registered Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses and 2,900 individuals and families are members of the Association. The KMSHA is indisputably the largest and best organized Mountain Horse breed in existence today.

In Kentucky alone, there are at least 15,000  horses resident each season, of which several thousand  Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and Spotted Mountain Horse stallions, mares and geldings are boarded and trained in Kentucky which are owned by residents of other states. We now have horses in every state, Canada, and rapidly growing numbers throughout Europe.


For the KMSHA/SMHA 25th Anniversary, the story of what Bonnie Robinson remembered about her husband, "Junior", seemed to be a very appropriate topic for the lead-in to this Stallion Issue. Information that many of us would have liked to know about Junior, even now after his death.

5/29/1938 to 1/25/2005
Friend and authority on the mountain horses, dedicated his life and time for his last 16 years here in Kentucky to them. His goal was to preserve their heritage and help all his friends grow the breed.

An Interview with Bonnie Robinson

So Bonnie, what do you believe Junior had in mind when he started the KMSHA? Well, it just all started back in 1989 when General Jackson, a beautiful red chocolate stallion wasn't registrable with the Rocky Mountain Horse Association. The Gen was short you no, about 14 hands. Junior got so upset that after thinking about it long and hard, he decided that there needed to be a breed registry beyond and more complete than the Rocky's. (Click for More)



History of the Gaited Horse in North America

by Annette L. Gerhard

History of gaited horses in North America closely parallels the events of 17th century Europe. When settlers in North America moved into a new area, gaited horses carried them, because no roads existed in those wilderness areas over which carts and carriages could travel. This is the type of horse on which Daniel Boone rode into the wilderness, making the first of many trips to the Kentucky region in 1767.  (Click for more)



KMSHA Foundations:  Richard Palmer and His Golden Palominos
by Mary Marshall

The golden palomino coloration of the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse has been preserved for generations by the horsemen of yesteryear and today who admired the coveted "golden horse" not only for it’s spectacular color but smooth gaits and inherent ability to perform any task in the show ring, farm, field, and on the trail.  more >>


  KMSHA Foundations:  The Breed Shapers
by Mary Marshall-

The humble beginnings of the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse and the Spotted Mountain Saddle Horse evolved alongside the rich Appalachian heritage of the people who settled in the area.  more >>


  KMSHA Foundations:  Emmett "Bud" Davis
by Mary Marshall

The face of Emmett "Bud" Davis lights up when he talks about his horses. Animated and lively at the age of 81, Emmett smiles broadly as he talks about the "great ones" that he has bred and shown with success.  more >>