Almost everyone in eastern Kentucky, where the breed originated, owned a Rocky Mountain Horse, which was really an all-around jack-of-all-trades kind of a horse. The families in that area were by no means rich, and used horses as work animals. Farmers put them to work pulling plows during the week and used them to pull a buggy to take the entire family to church on Sundays. Because they had to work hard all day, every day, they became a tough, versatile breed with a lot of stamina.
Life in that area was not easy for the Rockies. Winters were harsh and forage was scarce, so they had to survive eating bark off trees, like deer. They never received special care like the pampered Thoroughbreds rich Kentuckians owned, and as a result, only the strongest, toughest horses survived to produce the next generation of survivors. The rest were culled out. It may sound like a rough life, and it was, but it actually benefitted the breed. Since only the strongest horses survived, only qualities from those horses were passed on. That's what people living in that area wanted: to create a strong horse with a lot of stamina---one that could work all week and still take the family to town on the weekends.
A man named Sam Tuttle was a notable breeder of Rocky Mountain Horses for the better part of the twentieth century. His greatest stallion was Tobe, and people can from all over the country to breed their horses to him, even when tractors started coming into to use.
In the early '60s, Sam used his horses for trail riding services in Natural Bridge State Park, Powell County, Kentucky. Most often, he would ride Tobe, but sometimes he let other people ride the special stallion, which had surprisingly good manners for a breeding stallion.
Tobe was used for breeding until he was thirty-four, and died three years later. Over the years, he had passed on many good traits to his offspring and all of his descendants, including good temperament, fine gaits, and longevity.
Several decades later, in the '80s, a genetic researcher began studying the special breed. Over the years, since the breed had had little influence from the world outside of the county they had originated in, the bloodlines remained pure, and the horse developed both an distinct way of walking and a unique appearance.
|Rocky Mountain Horses, or Rockies as they are commonly called,|
are are usually a dark chocolate-like chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail.
Their special four-beat gait, called the single foot, is similar to the rack and can performed a various speeds. Each foot hits the ground independently
Today, Rocky Mountain Horses are used for many different disciplines, including pleasure, endurance riding, and trail riding due to their sure-footedness. Sometimes, they are even used for competitive trail riding, a sport where horse and rider pairs are to ride of natural trails, maneuvering any obstacle they encounter along the way. At the end, the horses are evaluated on how well they performed and how good their manners, condition, soundness, and trail ability are. The riders are judged on how good their horsemanship and equitation is.
Check out the breed's official page: Rocky Mountain Horse Association