As with many of the horse breeds developed in the United States the Rocky Mountain Horse is a uniquely developed, naturally gaited horse. There is only one registry for the Rocky Mountain Horse that is exclusive to the breed although some other registries such as the Gaited Horse Registry will, of course, register a Rocky Mountain Horse.
The Rocky Mountain Horse, beside its gait, also has several unique features that set it apart from the other gaited breeds from the southern United States. One of the major color characteristics of the Rocky Mountain Horse that distinguishes it from other gaited breeds is that the horse cannot have excessive white above the knees or any white spotting or patterns on the body, neck or rump. The horse may have white markings on the face but they cannot be excessive such as a bald face or any other type or predominantly white markings on the face. This is really a distinguishing feature of the Rocky Mountain Horse and one that sets it apart from many other gaited breeds where all color combinations and patterns are considered acceptable. Many Rocky Mountain Horses have the silver dapple gene that provides a wonderful, rich chocolate color with a lighter flaxen or blonde colored mane and tail. Not all Rocky Mountain Horses have to be this color, but it is one of the most striking color patterns in the breed and is considered to be one of the breed traits.
The Rocky Mountain Horse has a gait that this known as an amble. This is a four beat lateral gait, as all gaited horses have, but the amble is different than some of the other types of gaits exhibited by different breeds. The amble is a single foot or a rack, but cannot be a pace. The pattern of the footfalls for the ambling gait will be left hind foot, front left foot, right hind foot, right front foot. Each foot fall will be in an even pacing and this movement will continue throughout the walk and amble gaits. The result is a very smooth, natural movement that provides the rider with the ultimate in comfortable gaits, no matter what the terrain or speed. The Rocky Mountain Horse can cover over 7 miles an hour with the ambling gait and some horses can actually come closer to 20 miles per hour using this effortless gait. This gait never has to be taught, it is completely inherited and natural with this breed.
The gaited Rocky Mountain Horse is very calm and even tempered, almost dog like in its behavior. They truly enjoy being around people and make excellent trail horses as they are very social and easy going even with other horses. Some owners compare the temperament of the Rocky Mountain Horse to that of the Labrador dog, loving exercise and being on the go but also just enjoying attention from their owner. The Rocky Mountain Horse makes an excellent horse for an older child or a first time rider.