Mountains are majestic, beautiful and breathtaking—and rugged, treacherous and formidable. Settlers who lived in mountainous regions well before the introduction of trucks and SUVs needed an all-terrain vehicle of a different variety. The Rocky Mountain Horse did the job. The sure-footed, gaited horses offered a comfortable ride for tradesmen who had to travel
often, and for daily farm work and travels into town. In order to fill many needs,
Rocky Mountain Horses developed superb stamina and tractability through
A Rocky Start
In lieu of written records, verbal accounts of the Rocky Mountain’s history place
the breed’s origins in the Appalachian Mountain region of eastern Kentucky
during the late 1800s.
It’s believed that a gaited colt was brought to Appalachian Kentucky from the
Rocky Mountain region around 1890. The locals referred to him as “The Rocky
Mountain Horse,” and he is considered the foundation stallion of today’s Rocky
However, Sam Tuttle and his primary breeding stallion, Tobe, are credited with
ensuring the Rocky Mountain’s existence today. Tuttle maintained a generous
herd even during the Great Depression and World War II, when horses were
on the decline due to mechanization. His trail riding business at Natural Bridge
State Park in Kentucky proved the breed’s prowess and even temperament over
Today, the Rocky Mountain Horse is still coveted as a long-distance riding
mount, particularly among equestrians who experience aches and pains at the
bouncier trot. However, the breed’s endurance, easygoing temperament and
trainability lend themselves just as easily to other equestrian activities: saddle seat,
pleasure riding, driving and show-ring competition, to name a few.
Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Horse by visiting the Rocky Mountain
Horse Association at www.rmhorse.com.
KIM KLIMEK is a freelance writer in Kentucky who dreams of one day moving her family from
the city to the country and owning a horse or two, or three.
Rockies provide a smooth ride and easygoing temperament.
BY KIM KLIMEK