Mountain Pleasure Horses

The sturdy, calm Mountain Pleasure horse is a rare breed that has been used mainly as a family horse.

by Dani Yokhna
PHOTO: Mountain Pleasure/Flickr

Use: Mountain Pleasure Horses are used primarily as family horses, rather than for show, although the breed association does sponsor a breed show each year. Mountain Pleasure Horses make excellent trail mounts because of their sturdy constitution and calm dispositions.

History: The Mountain Pleasure Horse developed in the limestone plateau west of the Appalachian Mountains. Horse that were rugged and sure-footed were in high demand, so breeders crossed English and European horses from the East Coast to with tough Spanish horses, many of whom were gaited. The resulting horse, now known as the Mountain Pleasure Horse, has changed very little in the past 100 years. Characteristics of a primitive Appalachian gaited horse are still evident in the breed. In 1989, the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association was formed to conserve and promote the breed. The association currently has about 3,000 horses registered. The group aims to maintain the heritage of the breed, with emphasis on its kind disposition and comfortable, natural gait. The Mountain Pleasure is closely related to the Rocky Mountain horse and many horses are included in registries of both breeds. In 1994, Kentucky governor Brereton Jones issued an official proclamation about the Mountain Pleasure Horse, indicating the breed has been carefully and closely breed for more than 160 years in Kentucky. The proclamation also stated that blood typing by the University of Kentucky has shown the Mountain Pleasure Horse to be the parent stock of the Rocky Mountain Horse, the Tennessee Walking Horse and the American Saddlebred.

Conformation: Mountain Pleasure horses vary in type. Some have Spanish features, while others resemble more modern breeds. All types should have a deep, wide chest; long, sloping shoulders; and a gracefully arched neck that is medium in length and set at an angle to allow natural carriage with a break at the poll. All types have a smooth, four-beat gait instead of a trot. Foals are born with this gait, and no special training is needed for the gait to be present. Mountain Pleasure Horses stand 14.2 to 15.2 hands high and come in many solid colors, including gray and roan. Horses with pinto markings are not desirable for breeding. The breed is renowned for its calm and willing temperament.

Special Considerations/Notes: The Mountain Pleasure Horse is considered a rare breed and appears on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy watch list.

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