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National Show Horse Breed Profile

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The National Show Horse, or NSH for short, is an equine beauty and the epitome of every show horse in the modern day. This breed is versatile, elegant, docile, friendly, and very easy to maintain.

If you are a fan of horses, you’d love this breed for its versatility. Would you like to learn more about the National Show Horse? Continue reading this article.

a girl standing with an Arabians horse in a green field

The History of the National Show Horse

This breed is a relatively new American breed and its registry was founded just in 1981.

The National Show Horse breed is a product of two of the best breeds in the United States: the American Saddlebred and the Arabian horse.

This beautiful breed has the conformation and some other physical features of the American Saddlebred. It also has the refinement and some behavioral features of the Arabian horse.

National Show Horse Association

The association or registry for National Show Horses is the National Show Horse Registry (NSHR) and you can find them on their website.

This registry maintains everything about the breed such as its genetics, conformation, colors, etc.

National Show Horse Registry Requirements

Before 2011, your horse had to have at least 25% Arabian blood before being a member of NSHR.

However, they increased the Arabian blood requirement to 50% after 2011. The other 50% may be Saddlebred.

The National Show Horse Registry expanded and now accepts into the union any horse that represents the combination of Arabian horses and other breeds. Your NSH can be 50-99% Arabian.

NSH stallions that are Saddlebred or Arabian have to be additionally approved or nominated by the board of directors in NSHR.

dark brown American Saddlebred standing in a field

Characteristics of the National Show Horse

What better term can we use to describe this beautiful breed if not majestic?

One of the most noticeable features of the NSH is its neck which is usually long, swan-like, high-set, and upright just like that of the Saddlebred.

To see the Arabian horse characteristics in your National Show Horse, you may need to look at its behavior and other characteristics.


There is no pronounced crest in the neck of National Show Horses and their head is mostly small and refined. These horses have small ears that grow either straight or concave.

The top line of National Show Horses is level and stable and close-coupled with a very deep and laid-back shoulder.

If the length of the tail is what you are looking for in a horse, you’d be impressed with the high carriage of the NSH.

National Show Horse Height

When it comes to the height of NSHs, there is no clear distinction between the mares and studs. These horses stand somewhere between 14.2 and 16.3 hands (4.7-5.4 feet) in height.

Most horses fall within that range and the registry does not judge horses based on their height.

National Show Horse Weight

Just as in the case of their height, the weight of NSHs is not different for the studs and mares. These majestic horses weigh 1300 pounds (590 kg). That’s heavy, right?

This is great news for you, especially if you are a heavy rider. However, it is not so good news for your NSH if it has a lot of running, training, or tasks to do daily.

National Show Horse Colors

There’s no way you won’t be awed by the sight of National Show Horses when they ride past you because of their beautiful colors.

These horses can be bay, gray, chestnut, black, and palomino. They also come in a combination of colors such as bay or chestnut and white.

National Show Horse Temperament

You are looking at a very modest, obedient, and friendly horse.

National Show Horses are easy-going, frugal, intelligent, and loyal.

They will also try to please you, as your approval satisfies them.

Something extra cool about these horses, just like their Arabian ancestors, is that they are not startled by sudden noises around them. This is because they trust their humans and generally feel safe around them.

National Show Horse Lifespan

In general, your horse friend will live for 25-31 years (or slightly more) when treated with love and raised in optimal conditions.

So long as you keep the horse fit and give it regular vet checkups and quality food and medicine, it will live a long and happy life.

Uses and Disciplines

The most common use of NSHs is saddle seat riding. However, they are commonly used for Western pleasure, show hack, hunter pleasure, and dressage as well. This breed is truly a versatile one.

Saddle Seat Riding

horse rider stroking his brown horse  while riding at the back

It is not surprising at all that saddle seat riding is the most common use of National Show Horses. Many horse owners in the National Show Horse Registry participate in saddle riding with their horses.

NSHs maintain a high-stepping action and you can even train them to make classy, elegant, and stylish moves with their elevated front ends. You will surely love the sight of these horses trotting.

Pleasure Riding

two women casually riding horses in a park - EE230318

Why else would you want a horse if not for pleasure riding? The elegance of National Show Horses makes them a perfect fit for you if you just want to have a good time with your horse.

Ride your horse for fun and bond with it. Pleasure riding benefits both you and your horse.


man on a jersey riding a brown horse running over the water

Are you looking for a horse for endurance riding? You can surely register your NSH for endurance shows. These horses can ride 50-100 miles so long as you maintain regular breaks and care.

The weight of NSHs will not permit them to go very long distances in one run, so always remember to take those regular breaks.


women in white pants riding a brown horse

If you have the time to train your horse, you can use it for dressage. National Show Horses can perform specialized maneuvers when walking, trotting, running, etc.

Western Riding

You can also register your NSH to participate in some western riding shows such as rodeo-style competitions, barrel racing, and roping. All you need to do is to train your horses.

National Show Horses are very intelligent, so you can train them to participate in and win these games.

Health or Genetic Problems

The National Show Horse is somewhat built to perfection, as it is a generally healthy breed. This new horse does not have any breed-specific health issues.

However, maintain a healthy lifestyle for your horse if you want it to live without problems.

This means that your NSHs must eat good feed, drink clean water, live in suitable stables, and visit the vet regularly.

National Show Horses vs. the Arabian Horse

The Arabian horse is a parent of National Show Horses just like American Saddlebred horses. Some comparisons between NSHs and their Arabian horse parents are:

CharacteristicsNational Show HorseArabian Horse
Height14.2-16.3 hands (4.7-5.4 feet)14-15.1 hands (4.6-5 feet)
Weight1300 pounds (590 kg)800-1000 pounds (360-450 kg)
ConformationSmall head and ears, long neck, level back, and deep shouldersWedge-shaped heads, arched necks, and laid-back shoulders
ColorsOne of or a combination of bay, gray, chestnut, black, and palominoMostly gray, bay, or chestnut, but can also be black or roan
Lifespan25-31 years25-30 years
TemperamentObedient, easy-going, loyal, and intelligentHot-blooded and intelligent
UsesSaddle seat riding, pleasure riding, dressage, western riding, etc.Horse racing, saddle seat riding, hunt seat, dressage, cutting, etc.


The NSH is a beauty, right? You’d surely agree, especially after seeing its versatile uses.

If you’d love to raise this beautiful breed, remember to raise it in the ideal conditions so that you can enjoy your years with it.

Also, give your horse the best training so that it can do some tricks to thrill you and your friends.