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Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Georgian Grande – A Saddlebred with a Twist

The Georgian Grande – A Saddlebred with a Twist

by Samantha Kroese

Hartland's Large Saddlebred Stallion
(possibly too heavy but definitely closer to Grande than purebred ASB!)

I’ve seen quite an explosion in the hobby of this new exciting breed. Although most people seem to be quite confused about it. First of all the name of the breed is The Georgian Grande. I’ve seen it spelled Georgia Grand and various other spellings but Georgian Grande is the correct spelling (meaning Grand Horse of Georgia).

Their registry website for real horses is here:

According to their website (which the registry is usually considered ‘the’ authority of the breed of course) the breed was developed with the intent to created a Saddlebred horse that had heavier bone/heavier look to it. 

It was created in 1970 by a breeder by the name of George Wagner Jr. who had seen pictures of ‘old’ Saddlebreds and thought the breed was more sensible in the past for work so he started crossing Saddlebreds with Percherons (and other draft breeds). With the intent to get foals that look like a Saddlebred only had more substance to them instead of the lean long look they’d gotten for halter showing. Another apparent attempt was to cool the hyper attitude of the breed with the less excitable personalities of draft horses. The original breeders wanted to recreate horses like General Lee’s Traveller.

A Georgian Grande today can be anywhere between 25% and 75% American Saddlebred Blood. The only other blood that is allowed to be crossed with it is the draft breeds that follow: Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, Irish Draught, Belgian Draft and Friesian. Gypsy Vanner and Drum Horses are only accepted if they are registered with their breed registries and have a proven pedigree.

They are commonly used for Dressage and similar events.

 American Saddlebreds have a distinct look and the Georgian Grande seeks to preserve that while adding substance. 

Their breed standard states that the goal of this breed is to create a perfect blend of both worlds, resulting in a heavier boned “Baroque” style Saddlebred.

This does not mean the horse looks exactly like a purebred Friesian would! The horse should look like a Saddlebred with more weight and bone to it. Purebred Draft type, Warmblood type, or Friesian/Carriage type do not fit in with the breed’s mission or breed standard. More often than not the breed does not have (or isn’t shown with) feathering. Feathering is allowed or it is allowed to be shaved off. 

You can see their entire breed standard here and it is quite detailed:

I’ve had people argue that they’ve found real Georgians that look like a purebred Friesian, or a warmblood, or any other type under the sun. One should always, always, visit the breed’s website and read their breed standard and mission and look at champions or approved stallions. Google or other ‘image’ searches can show images that are incorrect or mislabeled or maybe the horse just isn’t the best example of the breed.

While Georgian Grande may seem like an answer to all those odd colored drafts or Friesians one should always keep in mind that the standard calls for a type that is very different than purebreds of any of those breeds look. The breed even penalizes a short thick neck (which is what most purebred draft and Friesians have).

Models that could possibly be similar to the standard of the Georgian Grande:

Peter Stone’s “Chip” Standing Draft Horse
Hartland’s Large ASB
Five Gaiter
Other horses of similar look/type

Your goal is to have a Saddlebred 'type' horse that has a heavier frame/more meat on them. Normally a purebred Saddlebred is very long and lean with fine delicate bone structure. 

Things to avoid:

Models with a Warmblood look (think Hanoverian and similar molds)
Models that have draft or Friesian type (remember you want a long thin neck, longer back, long legs and high action these are not things that drafts/Friesians are known for)

 Purebred ASB - Notice the long neck, long body/spine, long legs and the head that has a long almost stretched look to it. 
Purebred Friesian - Notice the heavy thick legs, the thick short body, and the thick short neck. Their heads are also thicker and have a less stretched appearance.
Purebred Percheron - Notice again the short thick legs/body/neck and the heavier head. 

 The Five Gaiter is much thicker and heavier than most purebred ASBs are today. He is closer to the old style ASBs the Georgian Grande breeders hope to imitate. But the Georgian Grande should ideally have the long look of the Saddlebred still that the breed is known for.

This is a lovely newer breed and I hope this clears up some confusion you might have had about it.

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