Narragansett Pacer was the first North American horse breed.
It first appeared in the area of Narragansett Bay, Rhode
Island prior to 1676. Some believe it was produced from Irish
Hobbies and Scottish Galloways, others believe from the Spanish
They were hardy, sure of foot, and easy moving horses. At the time
of the American Revolution, the Narragansett Pacer was considered
aristocrat of North American horses. It was the horse that carried
Paul Revere on his famous ride and was the favorite mount of George
Narragansett mares were crossed with Thoroughbreds, which the
colonists began importing from England in the early 1700s. It led to
a new breed. Called the American Horse, it was a recognized breed by
1780. It had the size and beauty of the Thoroughbred, but
retained the ability to learn the easy riding gaits. They were also
exported to the West Indies where they were bred with Spanish stock
to form many of today's Paso breeds. By 1800, the original
Narragansett had been bred out of existence.
It had laid the foundation for the pacing horse in
America, and it's influence would carry on where ever pacing horses
existed. The little horse had served its people well.
Since the Narragansett Pacer made significant contributions to the
Walking Horse breed, its characteristics are worthy of attention.
By modern standards, the Narragansett Pacer would be classed as a
scrub. It was small: the average height of the Rhode Island horses
in 1769 was 14:1 hands, which was a step up from the 1750 average of
13:2. They were judged even at their time to be "not very handsome,
but good", plain in their form and low in their carriage. They were
fleet, hardy and docile, surefooted, but not beautiful, and it is
reasonable to suppose that the lack of style and beauty was one of
the leading causes of its becoming extinct.