Horse Breeds

Horse Breeds

No other animal has seen more dramatic developments in the creation and extinction of breeds in the last hundred and 50 years than the horse. There are two obvious reasons for this

  • the invention of the combustion engine and the motor vehicle with motorised vehicles becoming the most popular form of transport and domestic freight haulage.
  • The increasing popularity of all sports.

Shortly after the introduction of the motorised vehicle there began a massive decline in all breeds of horses. Horses could only use the writing offer pulling small carriages for transport decline in numbers. Even more dramatic was the drop in the number of heavy horses being used for farm machinery or heavy carriages. Indeed many breeds became extinct or very close to it prior to organisations being set up to ensure their preservation.

Whilst technology has played a role in the diminished use of the horse, it has also played a role in the development of new breeds. Greater ease in transporting breeding stock – plus the invention of freezing sperm samples has greatly increased the variety of bloodlines available to horse breeders.

For sports, always popular have seen increasing popularity in the last hundred years. Not only has horse sport popularity increased but so has the level of competitiveness and breeders have been driven to create horses with higher and higher levels of strength, jumping ability, endurance and bravery. Breeders have crossed horses with different positive attributes to try and create breeds with the best points from all of the genetic influencing contributors.

Horse breeding has thus taken a very different direction than dog breeding. In the main, dogs are bred to a standard. Very rarely are bred for a purpose, except in the case of where animals are bred for working competitions such as sheep herding, dogsled racing etc. Horse breeding, on the other hand, has been almost entirely focused on creating horses with greater physical attributes than their parents. Breeding a horse to a standard remains important in being able to define the actual breed at the horse can claim to be. That said, I can assure you any rider winning a major Showjumping championship is more interested in the physical qualities of their horse and what breed it is for it’s genetic make up.

As was being sorted by breed, horses may be sorted by all manner of different criteria. Size, for example, can be used to categorise horses, sizes being pony standard and heavy. Some breeds come in all three sizes whilst others come in a single of these sizes. Horses can also be categorised by colour, for example, I horse may be classed as a bay horse, or a paint horse and horses from different breeds and fall within this category.

Below we have gathered a number of the most popular breeds both now and historically both your pleasure and seek and research the breed that might best suit what you’re looking for in a horse. Or spreads don’t just vary in size, they vary in temperament physical abilities, longevity, jumping ability, endurance… And the price.

One definition of horse breed is “a stock of animals or plants within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection.” There are several hundred horse breeds in the world today, many with abundant, and some rare. Many breeds throughout the centuries have become extinct, though their bloodlines may live on through contributions to other breeds.

The horse is classified scientifically as follows:

  • Phylum- Chordata
  • Class- Mammalia
  • Order- Perissadactyla
  • Family- Equidae
  • Specie- Equus caballus

The species can then be further sub-categorized by the classification of breed. Horses differ in characteristics due to thousands of years of selective breeding by human beings. Humans breed horses to increase the characteristics they find to be desirable such as size, strength, stamina, soundness, colour and gait. When a group of horses can be distinguished by one or more of these characteristics and the characteristics are consistently passed to offspring, then it can be said that they are a specific breed.

Throughout the centuries, humans have formed breed societies and breed registries, which are always aimed at the promotion, preservation and development of the breed which they represent. In general, to be a “purebred,” a horse must be recognized and registered through the breed society. These societies have been the largest contributors to the development of breeds, as they set the selective standards which the animals must meet to be considered an acceptable specimen of the breed.

 Types of Horse Breeds

There are many different breeds of horse in the world today. It is estimated that there are over three hundred. These breeds are broken down into three major groups: the heavy draft horses, light horses, and ponies.

Draft horse breeds are those that are heavier in frame and bone and are more suited to heavy draft type work such as farming and pulling heavy loads. They differ in conformation from the light horse and in temperament. They are generally quite docile and gentle which makes them reliable for their purpose. They usually have heavy bone structure and short legs in relation to the rest of the body. They tend to be very round and muscular with large heads and hooves. Another very common characteristic is feathering on the lower legs which is long hair extending from the cannon bone down around its pastern and fetlocks. There are approximately 30 breeds of draft horse including the famous Clydesdale, the Shire, the Suffolk Punch, the Breton and the Irish Draft,  just to name a few.

Light horses are the most common type of breed, the most suitable for riding and the most popular to own. They have well-defined withers and backs which are much narrower than their heavy cousins, making them a more comfortable mount. They have been bred to be fast, athletic and full of stamina, all of which are historically desirable characteristics. This was especially true when horses were the main mode of transportation. They are not only suitable riding horses but are used extensively under harness.

Ponies are the third type of breed. They are much smaller in size than the light and heavy horse types. In order to be considered a pony, the equine must be under 14.2 hands tall. They also differ significantly in conformation. Generally speaking, they have a stockier build with a short round back and rounded withers. They have shorter legs with short, thick cannon bones enabling them to carry heavy loads relative to their size. They also have much more hair than other horses and tend to grow long, thick manes and tails. Their winter coats tend to be very dense. They generally have a docile temperament making them a favourite children’s mount for centuries. Many ponies have a bad reputation for poor temperament. If or when that is found, it is usually the result of mistreatment by the owners; they sometimes are treated more like large dogs than horses. It can’t be forgotten that no matter how small, they are horses.

In addition to the size types, there are also blood types by which breeds can be categorized. There are three blood types: hot, cold and warm. The hot-blooded types are those that are fine-boned and fiery in temperament such as the Arab and the Akhal- Teke. These horses originated in desert climates and are extremely heat resistant. They generally have very thin coats and skin.

Coldblooded horses originated in Europe and are represented by the heavy draft breeds such as the Shire. They are quite large and docile.

The warmbloods are a mixture of the hot and cold bloods, and are represented by breeds such as the Danish Warmblood and the Trakehner.

So have a read, we hope this list is both useful to you for your own interest and helps you in the choosing of a new horse

Akhal-Teke Horse


CHARACTERISTICS By western standards the Akhal-Teke is not a perfect specimen.. Standing at about 1.57 m (15.2 hh), it is often long-backed with a tendency to be split-up behind, lacking the substantial second thigh so prized by western riders. The rib ca

Akhal-Teke Horse2019-11-21T23:22:10+01:00

Albanian Horse


The Albanian Horse is a small breed of horse that finds its origins on the Balkan Peninsula. The Albanian breed is also part of what is called the Balkan group of horses; the small horses of Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey.

Albanian Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Alter Real Horse


The Alter-Real horse is a beautiful, powerful, athletic horse, developed by Portuguese Royalty in 1747. The "real" part of the name translates from Portuguese to English as "royalty." These horses are truly fit for a king in both appearance and action.

Alter Real Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

American Mustang


The iconic symbol of the American West is the free-ranging Mustang horse. Found on the public lands of many of the western United States, these animals have captured the hearts of horse lovers everywhere. They are hardy, strong, free and wild in spirit. T

American Mustang2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

American Saddlebred Horse


One of the most dazzling horses in the world is the American Saddlebred. The iconic imagery of the American Saddlebred is its high head carriage, high knee action and high tail carriage followed by a flowing stream of hair. This horse is true product of t

American Saddlebred Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Appaloosa Horse


The Appaloosa horse is one of the most ancient horses in history. It can trace its ancestors to prehistoric times, and has been one of the breeds with the most contribution to modern times. They are an extremely versatile animal, and have a very loyal f

Appaloosa Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Arabian Horse


Arabian horses are by far one of the most popular and well known horse breeds. They are very ancient, and many of today's horse breeds have Arab bloodlines as part of their foundation. Considered by many to be the most beautiful horse type, Arabians are

Arabian Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Ardennes Horse


The other name is a heavy horse that was developed at more or less the same time in both France and Belgium. Its prehistoric horse pallbearers are evident in the primitive skilful structure of its head including a squared off nose. The history is long and

Ardennes Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Ariegeois Pony


The Ariegeois mountain pony was developed between Rousillon and Catalonia, sometimes called the Cheval de Merens but is more often referred to as the Ariegeois. The breed takes its name from the Ariege River

Ariegeois Pony2019-11-21T23:26:04+01:00

Australian Brumby


Australia's wild horse is known as the Brumby. It is an extremely strong and hardy animal that has managed to survive in harsh conditions for over 150 years. It is found in many areas throughout the country, but the most common ranges include the Australi

Australian Brumby2019-11-21T23:33:44+01:00

Australian Stock Horse


The first horses brought to Australia were from the South African Cape, and arrived in 1788. Thereafter, more and more were imported, particularly Thoroughbreds and Arabs). These two breeds gave rise to the Waler, which evolved mainly in New South Wales

Australian Stock Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Azteca Horse


The Azteca was founded in 1972 specifically for ranch work and cattle drives. The Azteca is a beautiful horse whose recent history encompasses strong bloodlines founded in antiquity. Efforts to breed an equine reminiscent of the horses that were first br

Azteca Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Barb Horse


The Barb horse is one of the world's oldest breeds, with a history that dates back to 600 A.D., though one theory suggests it may be a survivor of the Ice Age, which ended over 20,000 years ago.

While the Barb horse is certainly its own distinct br

Barb Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Bashkir Horse


The Bashkir horse is thought to have originated in the Bashkir region of Russia, developing spontaneously over time rather than purposefully bred. Bashkirs are known throughout the world as Bashkirsky, Curlies, or Bashkir Curlies.

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Breton Horse


The Breton horse is a small draft breed that comes from the Brittany region of France. It is shorter and more compact than its larger draft cousins, and has been used for every type of activity from farming to war. With an intelligent eye and a calm perso

Breton Horse2019-11-23T21:14:05+01:00

Buckskin Horse


The term "Buckskin" refers to color and not to a breed. However, buckskin registries do exist to promote the breeding of this color. A true buckskin horse has a color like that of a tanned deer hide, with a black mane and tail, black socks on the legs, a

Buckskin Horse2019-11-21T23:35:57+01:00