By Tigre's Founding Member, Victoria Varley

Looking back in time

Tigre’s modern day journey to Soulon Tiger Horse perfection began in 1992 when my husband Mark and I decided to invest in gaited horses. Tired of trotting on our endurance riding Arabians, we purchased a couple of Missouri Fox Trotters and began a new equine romance. Riding smoothly gaited horses is seductive.Who would not prefer to experience the comfort of a soft ride once discovered, to the hard trot of non-gaited horses? They have their place of course, but we were ready to move on to something less jarring. Not long after making the switch, my friend Lindy van der Walt, who was visiting from South Africa, suggested we put some spots in the mix. Both of us artists, Lindy is an Appaloosa enthusiast and got me excited at the prospect of riding gaited horses that were also exotic in appearance. An incredibly beautiful horse I now describe as; “Living Art.”

(far right) Annandale’s Fairy Tale, a 10 day old first generation USA Tiger Horse filly, whose pheno type and coat pattern closely resemble that of the first Han horses developed 2,600 years ago. China first rode horses around 600BC and only after successful attempts were achieved to develop a military mount that would help combat the all too frequent attacks from heavily mounted Mongolians. (The Mongolians were horse riders for thousands of years prior). Nothing worthwhile is ever easy and Chinas first failed attempts to peacefully obtain some of the famous “blood sweating horses,” saw a second and more aggressive visit. This time heavily armed foot soldiers attacked with ferocious intent, and after sacking the village, left with the first superior spotted breeding stock and herded them back across the unforgiving desserts. Arriving home after the 12 year round trip, The Emperors emissary reported that he had only obtained 12 Heavenly Horses but also 2,000 Thoroughbred types which from tribes in the Ferghana Valley. He reported that the devastated tribes from which the horses were obtained, had threatened to kill every last horse, if any more attempts were made to obtain them. Apparently they carried out their threats for not one original Heavenly Horse has survived. The Russian Akale-Teke horse is said to descend from some of the Thoroughbred types from the Ferghana Valley stock.Spain and Austria, as well as Denmark, must have received spotted stock at some point in time, for each country has developed their own versions of the Heavenly Horses. Spain is credited with gaited horses having bred her find to the pony sized Asturions and created a fine gaited mount for the Royal Court and Gentry to ride, eventually loosing all of hers too, to the Americas.

(above left) From the back of a spotted Han Dynasty horse, an Oriental rider has discharged an arrow into what looks suspiciously like a Tiger?

Back to our beginning

Our first 3 Tiger Horse years included a serious learning curve. To make room for the new venture we sold all but one excellent Arabian mare named Tsaarific, and purchased during our Arabian horse romance. Aka “Fancy” she is a daughter of a Russian Arabian import named Tzaar but who knew, or even cared back then, if Tzaar’s ancestors came from the famous Ferghana Valley shipment to Russia? The Tiger Horse filly top of page, is one of three Tiger Horse foals that “Fancy” later produced for us. Prior to this we were still more interested in riding gaited horses, and the Missouri Fox Trotter became our new breed of choice. We also invested heavily in this magnificent “World Champion” halter horse from a Missouri Fox Trotter Breeder. We believe that only superior stock should be used for breeding, but this Machines Pure Pride, proved to be mis-represented as a gaited horse, and was genetically predisposed as a hard pacing horse and would never sire any gaited daughters. This mistake cost us in failed breedings and by now we were zoning in on the Tiger Horse experiment so we used him on a variety of mares including the Arabian mare Fancy, some Appaloosas and some MFT mares. After discovering his inability to produce gait of any kind, he was sold at auction for very little money and we went back to the drawing board.

Education is never free and can be a costly business, but our mistake was not without rewards. Pride showed us that inheriting gait is gender related. His daughters all exhibited his same disappointing “hard pace” while his sons inherited the gaits of their various Dams. While Pride was a gentleman we cannot say the same for his previous deceptive owner. It remains a mystery to us how any organization can award “World Champion” status on a horse that can not in any way naturally gait according to their standards?

1992 Enter Stage Two, and The First Successful Tiger Horse production:

Over the years and acquisition of some excellent Missouri Fox Trotter mares like this palomino mare on the far left, we learned what a pleasure it was to ride a truly smooth gaited horse and she, Honey Bunny, became my personal riding horse for the next 14 years, jealously refusing to give her up for Tiger Horse breeding. It was a wasted period but who knew her line would be one of the most important lines for the breed! It takes time to develop a new breed of horse and particularly difficult when one is using non gaited horses for spotted coat patterns from the Appaloosa group, and gaited horses from elsewhere, especially finding similar types from such diametrically opposed breeds.Since I was insistent on first proving my new stock on the competitive trail riding circuit I found impressive comparisons to exist to that of my endurance riding Arabians. This mare and three of her siblings which I also purchased, proved to be amazingly efficient and joyful trail riding mounts. Now I was convinced I had found the right root stock and went into Tiger Horse production mode. Honey Bunny was eventually bred to Mark’s personal riding horse, a near leopard Tiger Horse named Annandale’s Love Story and produce this Tiger Horse filly who in turn has become my personal riding horse and supreme Tiger Horse brood mare. We named her Annandale’s Carbon Copy. She is expecting her second foal in 2013 from our herd sire Annandale’s Holy Smoke. Both are gaited, both have copies of the Lp gene Expect a miracle.

( Below left photo ) Two stud colts at 6 months of age, Annandale’s Storyteller and Annandale’s Pepper Stepper, the first stallions to be entered in Tigre’s stud files. We could put Storyteller to absolutely any mare. The results were always excellent. Pepper Stepper went on to produce his fair share of excellent foals too. The various mares we chose as breeding partners came from a variety of gaited breeds, but always the very best our money could buy. Pepper was better gaited than Storyteller who performed a fast shuffling kind of sitting “trot” we later discovered in other Ghost Horses and at the suggestion of Pam Ledbetter, one of our dedicated breeders, named their gait “The Glide.” Pepper on the other hand would sail along smoothly in perfect 4-beat rhythm and never miss a gaited step. He inherited more of his Arabian/ Mustang ancestry than we want for future foals, but with the right long backed mare named Redman’s Summer Breeze, he gave us Annandale’s Gray Wolf who in turn sired our most important herd sire Annandale’s Holy Smoke. The two foals pictured at the bottom right are some of Story's first offspring. The resemblance they bear to the ancient Chinese Horses from the Han Dynasty pictured in the painting on the upper left section, is remarkable! Twenty years after the first Tiger foals were born, we have entered the third and final stage of development,the Soulon stage. Wouldn’t you like to join in and rider a Tiger Horse too?


Warning: Passion, focus, and an understanding of how important this mission is, and the time to pursue this venture, are most important factors for Members of Tigre, The Tiger Horse Breed Registry to remember. It is hard to be financially successful with any breed so why not work with us to accomplish the very best and thereby earn the highest rewards.

We created the Registry in 1995 just a few years after producing 35 of the first registered Tiger Horses created from a combination of breeds. At first we printed colorful newsletters which we distributed quarterly for very little membership fees. Funding of the organization and all the work involved came out of our own pockets and continues to be the case, but we love every minute we can spend with this breed to see just one more Tiger Horse born.

This one is a glamorous but rare breed worth fighting for. Unbelievably high prices have been recorded from their sales. It takes focus, hard work and the right product to be successful and advertising the existence of this grand breed, is especially important if we are to bring in more members and buyers to help keep this the latest version of the ancient Soulon horses, increasing in number. Look how quickly thousands have been snuffed out and disappeared from the planet. We have just over 110 Tiger Horses in our stud files as of Novembe 2012. We need your help to keep this show on the road.

Nothing happens overnight. People without the will to stay in the game when times get tough, will fall by the wayside. Unregistered foals will be lost to the breed. When the economy experiences a down turn, we cut back on the quantities we produce. If we are only few working on this project, this breed is not going to make it. Please consider the project. Please join up.

Tigre has developed two branches for registering Tiger Horses. Royalty for the gaited horses. Heavenly for any non-gaited offspring of Royalty registered parents. The beautiful offspring are used to produce more Royalty foals. If members prefer, they may also breed their registered Heavenly horses for non-gaited foals.