Of all the mountain horse breed registries, the first “breed-specific” registry to be formed was the Rocky Mountain Horse Association registry in 1986. The RMHA was established as a direct result of the efforts of Rea Swan of Lexington, Kentucky.
Realizing that a systematic preservation of the characteristics of the gaited Mountain Horse was necessary, from 1980 through 1985 Rea diligently worked on gathering the few breeders still working to preserve the original genetics of the breed. A total of twenty-six people representing thirty-three horses attended the first Rocky Mountain Horse Association meeting in May 1986 in Winchester, Kentucky. From these modest beginnings, the Rocky Mountain Horse Association was formed.
For a short period of time the registration books were open as early association members strove to identify and register horses that met the requirements of the breed.
The Rocky Mountain breed requirements included:
- The horse must be of medium height from 14-2 to 16 hands, a wide chest sloping 45 degrees on the shoulder with bold eyes and well-shaped ears.
- The horse must have a natural ambling four-beat gait (single foot or rack) with no evidence of pacing. When the horse moves you can count four distinct hoof beats which produce a cadence of equal rhythm, just like a walk: left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore. Each individual horse has its own speed and natural way of going, traveling 7-20 miles per hour. This is a naturally occurring gait present from birth that does not require any training aids or action devices (i.e. chains, soring, or built up shoes.)
- The horse must be of good temperament and easy to manage.
- All Rocky Mountain Horses have a solid body color. Facial body markings are acceptable so long as they are not excessive. There may not be any white above the knee or hock.
Now the registration books are closed, so to be registered with the Rocky Mountain Horse Association, a foal must have both a sire and dam that are registered Rocky Mountain Horses. The registration process has two steps: 1) initial registration based on parentage and 2) certification which happens once the horse is going under saddle.
To be certified, a Rocky Mountain Horse must be at least twenty-three months old and pass inspection by three official RMHA Examiners for:
- Correct gait under saddle, with a graceful way of going
- Conformation and color that meets the breed standards
- Possessing good temperament
- Verification of parentage by an appropriate laboratory testing method
- Stallions must have both testicles below the external (inguinal) ring
- The only exception to the minimum height requirement of 14.2 hands is for mares that are under three years old at the time of certification. These mares can be certified at a minimum of 14 hands.
For more information about Rocky Mountain Horses, visit the Rocky Mountain Horse Association website.
Information taken from the Rocky Mountain Horse Association website.