China first developed a riding horse during the Han Dynasty around 600BC using twelve “Heavenly Horses” and two thousand others which they obtained from Tribes in the Heavenly Mountains district and in the Ferghana Valley. Heavenly Horses as recorded in Chinese history were described as spotted and brave.Seen during skirmishes from a distance reports of “blood sweating horses” were rampant. One emissary reported back to Emperor Han that these amazing horses fought on long after riders had been knocked from the saddle. “Bring me the “blood sweating horses” Emperor Han ordered and indeed after a couple of attempts and a final round trip that took 12 years to complete, he got twelve of them and 2,000 others. The offspring from these imports bred to horses of burden became the ancesters of the legendary Soulons which came into being 220 years after the Han Dynasty and during the illustrious T’Ang Dynasty (China 615-789) after being crossed with Draft Horses. The Soulons were celebrated as a magical and ethereal horse similar to the horses featured on this page which are a modern day USA Tiger Horse.


Some of the original horses from the Steppe of Siberia eventually found their way into Europe, and in particular Spain where they were bred to Asturions, a pony sized gaited breed from the Basque region of Spain and which continue to be farmed to this day for table food. The spotted horses that resulted from the cross were nice and tall and highly suited for the King of Spain and his royal court, but disappeared into the Americas with shiploads of horses destined for breeding stations in South American countries, and eventual sale to the Americans and the “New World.” They have been incorrectly labeled as Spanish Jennets because some were seen being schooled at the Spanish riding school by the Genets, who were riders schooled at the highest levels of equine gymnastics, also known today as Dressage. Gaited horses would not have been suitable for Dressage but well suited to ladies and gentlemen and quiet comfortable rides in the country. Exotic in the extreme, then and now, these unusually spotted horses fetched high prices. The Lp gene spotted horses in Austria and Denmark are a related breed to those from the Steppe, but are not bred to gait, instead like the Appaloosa horse, have developed into trotting breeds. Here only Tiger Horses are bred to be gaited. Spotted horses that proved unsuitable for the USA military were traded, or discarded and thankfully preserved by appreciative Indian tribes eventually being rescued by ApHC, the Appaloosa Horse Club where they continue to be modified into a non-gaited horse. Tigre has picked up the slack and is working hard to put an original horse back together like the beautiful horse in this lovely well known painting of “el caballo tigre” (the tiger horse). Some like to say it is a “Spanish Jennet.” Now you know the truth. Tigre’s Founding member Victoria Varley discovered that gait is passed down to the opposite sex foals. Fathers to daughters and mothers to sons. This discovery was made possible over a 20 year period when non-gaited Appaloosas were used for their spots, and bred to gaited stock. The way gaits are inherited has been tabled by Victoria and is available for publication as a science paper. More than 100 specimens of different types and gaits, were used to collect the data. As a result we are now able to predict the outcome when one parent is gaited and the other is not. Simply put, gaited mares pass their gait tendencies to their sons, while gaited stallions pass theirs to daughters. That discovery made, it would be nice to be able to select the sex of the foals. The Tiger Horse breed has come a long way in a short time. Infusing spots from non gaited Appaloosas at the same time as infusing middle gaits from gaited breeds, searching for shared pheno-types and similar musculature and disposition requires dedication and knowledge. It is a success story, but almost certainly a labor of love. Focusing on the phenotype of the ancient Chinese Soulon, and a personal preference for the bay gene as a base coat color, was an early part of the Founders breeding program. The darker the base coat of the horse, the more striking the white markings will be. So, not a small addition to include with the undertaking. Tigre members can take full advantage of the Founders discovery, and her formula for successful preferences. The Tiger Horse is making a come-back and Tigre’s members work hard to infuse the specific characteristics into the breed, of the magnificent and ancient Soulon
CHINAS HISTORY:Why or how China eventually began infusing Draft horses into their established military horses we may never know. Accident or on purpose? The infusion developed into a magnificent parade horse they named THE SOULON. It was a stately animal for the Emperor. Records show that “gait was encouraged.” Unfortunately like all precious things that are lost to wars or abandonment, Chinas Soulons are now extinct. We are excited to have discovered that Tiger Horses share common ancestors with the Soulon, so there is no reason why we cannot revive the phenotype for which China is so famous..