Height and Weight:  Most horses registered range from 13-3 hands to 15-2 hands, with the average being 15 hands.  Weight is proportionate to height. NSSHA is aiming towards the larger individual as ideal, but does not discriminate because of size.

Color: Any recognized horse color with white in a spotted pattern, with color above the hock, other than facial markings.  The horse must possess one spot above a level line, midway between the center of the knee and the floor of the chest and midway between the point of the hock and the center point of the stifle.  A horse must exhibit a spot TWO INCHES OR MORE in diameter with underlying contrast skin in the area described above or in the tail.  Facial markings, mixed tails, and/or high stockings alone do not qualify as a spot.

Markings:  Standard Pinto/Paint type markings.  Can be Tobiano, Sabino, Overo, or Tovero.  Many horses exhibit Tobiano type markings, yet with bald or bonnet faces as on an Overo or Sabino.  Some also show ragged edges and isolated  other type spots on basically Tobiano type markings. NSSHA is insistent that horses show spotted coloration.

Parentage: Any horse, regardless of background, may be registered, providing the horse is spotted (unless applying for I-D or Breeding Stock papers), and exhibits a saddle gait, which may be a flat walk, running walk, pace, rack, or a combination of all gaits.  The horse cannot trot.

Structure & Build: Closely resembles a smaller, slightly stockier Tennessee Walking Horse.

Heads: Basic Character; Moderate length, refined, with a soft, gentle expression. Profile: Straight to slightly convex.

Eyes: Wide set, soft expression.

Ear: Moderately long, set well up on the head, inner tips "hooked", carried alertly.

Jaw: Moderate development, tapering to a relatively fine muzzle with a slight "rounding off" of the end over the nostrils which are average, lips firm.

Neck: Very slightly arched, muscular but trim, moderate length, neck carried high, with fairly good head carriage.

Shoulders: Long, sloping, and well muscled. Withers high, fine and extending well into back.

Chest: Moderate width, well muscled.

Rebel's Ice Breaker


Forearm: Well muscled, forelegs set a little under body.

Gaskin: Well muscled, but not bulgy.

Knee: Wide, with clean bone.

Hocks: Wide, deep, with clean joints.

Cannon: Quite short in front, slightly longer in rear.

Pastern/Fetlocks: Joints clean, slopes at about 40 degrees in front.

Hooves: In proportion to size of the horse. Most have white hooves, some striped with black.


Ribs: Deep, well sprung.

Topline/Loin: Topline level, although some horses show a slight rise to the point of the croup. Most have short backs, with strong loin.

Underline: Deep throughout.

Flank: Relatively deep, not too much tuck-up.


Broad and well muscled viewed from either side or the rear.

Hips: Deep, well muscled.

Croup: Moderate length, rounded and slightly sloping.

Tail set: High 

Thigh/Stifle: Uniformly well muscled.

Pepe La Pugh


Well muscled, not as developed as a quarter horse, but more of a heavier build than the Tennessee Walking Horse. Smooth, not bulgy or knotty. The NSSHA Reg. horse is balanced, with muscle development of forehand and rear equal. This is true with most breeds that perform the "smooth or easy gaits," as they push with the rear and pull with the front.

Disposition: Typically gentle, and easy to handle.



Shown at Three Gaits: The flat walk, show pleasure,and canter. (All three gaits performed as four year old, 2 gaits prior to that time).

The Flat Walk: The horse should be striding behind, breaking in front (picking his feet up smartly), with good head carriage, style and conformation.

Show Pleasure: As above, but with a noticeable increase in speed and "flashiness."

Canter: The horse should be under control at all times, and should be on the correct lead.

Back In Line-Up: The horse should back straight at all times and should not throw his head or open his mouth. Only keg shod horses back. 

Show Classes:

Shown in a number of different classes: In Hand, Pleasure, Breeding Classes, Under Harness, Adult Riders & Youth Riders. Classes are also divided by sex and/or age of either horse or rider. Classes are also divided by height of horses.

The National Spotted Saddle Horse is shown with a bridle (type used by T.W.H., but rhinestone or colored browbands prohibited) of leather featuring either buckstitching, silver, or plain. He is shown wearing a western saddle. Riders attire is western, complete with long-sleeved western shirt, western slacks, cowboy hat, bolo tie and chaps, optional. Rider should wear western boots.


As the horse has steadfastly gained in demand and popularity as both a pleasure and show horse, many breeding barns have added a training facility as one of their services. Horses are being trained in the areas of Show, Trail, Field Trial, and purely backyard pleasure. The larger breeding barns offer services such as artificial breeding, shipment of semen, and total mare care. Many have implemented the use of an ultra-sound machine, or the services of a veterinarian who uses ultra-sound, to greatly aid in their breeding program.

Shows: Presents three annual association sponsored shows each year.

1) The Annual Spring Show, held at the Tennessee Livestock Center, on the campus of MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN, held each May.

2) The Annual Mid-Season Show, held each July at the Coffee County Fairgrounds in Manchester, TN.

3) The World Grand Championship Show, held each September, at the Tennessee Livestock Center, MTSU campus, Murfreesboro, TN.

These shows are multi-night shows. In addition to these shows, NSSHA affiliates many one night shows throughout the summer months. Sponsoring groups are various civic or school organizations who wish to earn money for their group projects.

 Shadow's Spotted Allen 

Registration: The National Spotted Saddle Horse Association, Inc., serves as the official breed registry for spotted, gaited horses. The Association General, National office keeps accurate records of all spotted saddle horses who have ever been registered with NSSHA. Complete pedigree background information is available, along with a horse's show records. If any exist, as well as his production records. The Association can verify every recorded owner of a particular horse. All records are completely computerized. 

Horse of the Year Awards: A program is in place that allows a horse to collect points from his placings at all NSSHA shows, with the horse that receives the highest tally in his or her division, being awarded the title of Horse of the Year in their division.

Supreme National Champion Awards: The NSSHA offers a Supreme National Champion program for NSSHA registered horses. These awards are based on wins at NSSHA sanctioned or affiliated shows. There are five categories in the Supreme National Champion program. The categories are: Bronze National Champion (10 blue ribbons), Silver National Champion (25 blue ribbons), Golden National Champion (50 blue ribbons), Platinum National Champion (75 blue ribbons) and Diamond National Champion (100 blue ribbons). The NSSHA will recognize the Supreme Champions at the Annual Awards Banquet, which is held in January each year.

Outstanding Promoter Award: Each year, an individual is honored, for outstanding contributions to the furtherance and promotion of the breed, and NSSHA. This award is decided upon by the Board of Directors.

Hall of Fame: NSSHA established, several years ago, a Hall of Fame to recognize and honor individuals and horses which have contributed much to the development of the breed, over a long period of time. The guidelines for induction into the Hall of Fame are: The horse or individual needs to have been very involved in the furtherance of the breed, and needs to have contributed much, far beyond the average horse or individual. The person does not have to be deceased to receive the induction, however, the horse much be deceased to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. One or more horses and/or individuals may be inducted each year. These individuals and horses are selected by the share holders board, at the annual corporate meeting each January.

Annual Open Meeting & Awards Banquet:
Each January, the NSSHA hosts an open membership meeting, along with a dinner, and entertainment. Immediately following the general membership meeting, an awards banquet is held, presenting the Horse of the Year Awards, and the Hall of Fame Inductees, Outstanding Promoter Award, and many other awards and recognitions.

 At the Annual Membership Meeting, 15 members of NSSHA are elected, from the general membership, to serve with the existing members of the NSSHA Board of Directors.

 The NSSHA serves as a national information center for spotted, gaited saddle horses. If you have any questions regarding the association, a registered horse, show information; the answers are readily available.



The NSSHA Journal is published online on a quarterly basis and is free. CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR ONLINE JOURNAL

An annual calendar featuring different horses each month, is available as a benefit of membership, or for purchase by non-members. 


Further information, and complete requirements for registration, may be obtained by writing or calling:

National Spotted Saddle Horse Assn., Inc.
P.O. Box 898
Murfreesboro, TN 37133-0898

(615) 890-2864 

Office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday, central time.