Shelbyville: The American Saddlebred Capital of the World

An American Saddlebred horse strutting its stuffShelbyville, KY is known as "The American Saddlebred Capital of the World" for one simple reason: it is home to many of the country’s best breeding and training facilities for American Saddlebred horses. And what, exactly, is an American Saddlebred horse? Well, technically, it is "any of a breed of 3-gaited or 5-gaited saddle horses developed chiefly in Kentucky from Thoroughbreds and smooth-gaited stock." If you're still scratching your head after that you can be forgiven: basically, what they're saying here is that "American Saddlebred" translates into "show horse:" beautiful, large, carefully bred and trained animals with gentle natures and a high-stepping, regal bearing. The "peacock of the horse world," as it were. Once known as "Kentucky Saddlers" and used extensively as an officer's mount in the American Civil War, American Saddlebred horses are descended from riding horses bred at the time of the American Revolution, then developed into its modern form here in Kentucky. Why Shelbyville ended up as The American Saddlebred Capital of the World is simple: it's a darned nice place to raise horses and, consequently, many of the historic American Saddle Bred farms were located here. Named in honor of Governor Isaac Shelby, Shelbyville spent the early 1800's as a fine place for a pit stop between Frankfort and Louisville, being, at the time, the seventh largest town in the state with a population of 262 residents. It's grown a bit since then but so has the rest of the nation. Shelbyville remains quaint and pleasant - a great place to come experience real Southern charm and beautiful horses. One big draw is the annual Shelby County Fair Horse Show that happens in mid-June, as well as the Shelbyville Horse Show: a four-day event starting the first of August each year. Each of these may sound like some rural snooze-fest to the casual reader but, in fact, these events attract world-class horses along with their owners, trainers and riders, not to mention celebrities like William Shatner and Carson Kressley. The rest of the year, folks come to Shelbyville to shop, dine, visit galleries, and taste Kentucky wines. You have to remember that Kentucky's Bluegrass Region produced America's first commercial winery, so the pedigree is strong here and Shelbyville's award-winning Talon Winery proves it regularly in their tasting-room. Still, the focus for the area tends to be on horses and, if that's your taste, there are numerous stables in Shelby County that offer riding lessons and horse camps for riders of all skill levels. You can also tour the horse farms of Shelby County. More than 80 Saddlebred establishments are here, another reason Shelby County is known as the "American Saddlebred Capital of the World.” For more information on visiting and the goings on in Shelbyville, be sure to visit: If you're thinking of taking a Kentucky vacation to see the "American Saddlebred Capital of the World," don't forget to book your lodging at a Bluegrass Region bed and breakfast inn. More hospitable than a motel, more knowledgeable about the region than some chain hotel, a locally owned and operated Kentucky bed and breakfast inn is your gateway to true lodging comfort and value. Do yourself a favor and lodge with the best - we'll do the rest.