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

French Trotter – Norman Trotter


Imagine you are watching a close harness race and the excitement is high. The horses have been battling through the laps and now they are in the homestretch. These are the best trotters in the world, and one will go home with the trophy declaring it the c

French Trotter – Norman Trotter2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Friesian Horse


The Roman historian Tacitus (CE 55-120) recorded the Friesian's existence. He acknowledged its antiquity and its value as a powerful all-round utility animal, but remarked on its exceptional ugliness. It had become rather more refined by the time i

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

Galiceno Pony / Galiceno Horse


The Galiceno pony, or Galiceno horse is an extremely refined, willing and horse-like pony. It was developed in Mexico and is one of the most beloved ponies of that country. It is very willing to please, trainable and versatile, and enjoys the ability to

Galiceno Pony / Galiceno Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Gotland Pony


The origins of the Gotland Pony can be found on the island of Gotland in Sweden. In Sweden these ponies are known as Russ or Skogsruss (translated to English means "little horse of the forest") and Skogsbaggar ("forest ram").

Gotland Pony2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Groningen and Gelderlander Horses


ORIGINS The Netherlands is small, and not well-suited to raising horses, never the less, the Dutch have made a substantial contribution to horse-breeding in Europe. For centuries, they have proved themselves to be innovatory and market-wise, breeding hors

Groningen and Gelderlander Horses2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Gypsy Vanner horse – Irish Cob


The development of the Irish Cob as a breed of horse is curious as it is one of the oldest known "breeds" from Ireland in addition to the Connemara Pont and the Irish Draught Horse, but it is only in recent time is has been given official breed status. Li

Gypsy Vanner horse – Irish Cob2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Hackney Horse


Even if you know nothing of the Hackney breed, you will never forget this horse if you see one. Truly one of the most show-stopping horses in the world today is the Hackney horse. This equine has a flair that is hard to top with its snappy gaits and pert

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

Hackney Pony


THE HACKNEY PONY The Hackney Pony does not exceed 1.42 m (14 hh) and shares the same stud book as the Hackney Horse, with a common ancestry in the great lines of Norfolk and Yorkshire Trotters. Regardless, it is a real pony, not just a little horse. The

Hackney Pony2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Haflinger Pony


Haflinger ponies are a very beautiful and popular Austrian breed of pony. They are a golden chestnut color with a flaxen mane and tale, and a very Arabian head and neck, with a very functional and hardworking body. The common saying pertaining to these

Haflinger Pony2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Hanoverian Horse


The HANOVERIAN HORSE, is best distinguished by its stylized "H" brandmark. Thet are the most numerous and the best-known of the European warmbloods. The breed was established at Celle in 1735 by George II, Elector of Hanover and King of England (1727-1760

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



The HOLSTEINER horse is the oldest of the German warmbloods and as one of the world's best performing showjumping horses is unsurprising they have made their way to Australia with a bred for exactly that purpose.


Iberian Horse


The Iberian horse curiously is not a breed of horse, rather it is the name given to a group of 17 different

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

Icelandic Horse – Icelandic Pony


The Icelandic Pony is a breed that has lived in Iceland for around 1200 years. They are technically a horse, with more horse like characteristics than pony characteristics. They are also one of the purest breeds of horse in the world having had no outside

Icelandic Horse – Icelandic Pony2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Indian Half Bred Horse


Breeding half breds by crossing Thoroughbreds with other breeds, is well-established on the sub-continent. Half-breds in India are produced mainly by the Indian army studs, which are responsible for supplying troop horses to cavalry units and sometimes al

Indian Half Bred Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Irish Draught Horse


The Irish Draught Horse is a warm blood horse with its origins in Ireland. While the name suggests it is a heavy draft breed, it is no longer a true draft due to the refined blood that has been infused into the line throughout the years. It is a large bon

Irish Draught Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Irish Sports Horse / Irish Hunter


The Irish Sports Horse, also known as the Irish Hunter was created by crossing the Irish draught horse for its ample bone and strength with the more athletic and faster thoroughbred to create a horse strong and fast enough to carry a Hunter over difficult

Irish Sports Horse / Irish Hunter2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00



The KABARDIN AND THE KARABAKH are both mountain horses. The former is the local breed of the northern Caucasus, while the latter originated a little further south, in the Karabakh uplands, between the rivers of Araks and Kura in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the

KABARDIN AND KARABAKH Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Karabair Horse


BACKGROUND AND HISTORYTHE KARABAIR horse is one of the oldest of the Central Asian horse breeds. It is found principally in Uzbekistan, an area famed in antiquity for its horses and one that is frequently mentioned in accounts of military campaigns in pre

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

Karabakh Horse


The Karabakh horse is named after the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, it is a riding horse initially used for mountain steppe racing. The horses were originally developed in this region and they are noted for their easy temperaments surefootedness and fast

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

Kathiawari Horse


The KATHIAWARI horse is from the Kathiawar Peninsula, an area framed by the Gulfs of Kutch and Khambat on India's north western coast. It is also found in Maharashtra, Gujerat, and southern Rajasthan. Together with the Marwari its northern neighbour in Ra

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

Kiger Mustang


The Kiger Mustang is a stunning and intelligent horse that was recently discovered in southwest Oregon in the United States. The Kiger Mustang has an interesting history which finds its bloodline in the distant past. This horse resembles the modern day Sp

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

Knabstrup / Knabstrupper Horse


The Knabstrupper horse is one of the most eye-catching breeds in the world. They are hard to miss in any setting with their white base coats and dark leopard spotting. They are very popular for circus riding and other entertainment uses not only due to th

Knabstrup / Knabstrupper Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Konik Horse


The Konik Horse is a primitive horse breed originating in Poland. Like many of the primitive horse breeds they exhibit the typical markings including a dun coat occasional primitive striping on the legs and withers with dorsal stripe on their backs. The K

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

Lipizzan horses


THE LIPIZZANER is so integral to Vienna's Spanish Riding School that it would be impossible to think of one without the other. In fact, the white horses (as well as a few that are black, bay, and chestnut) are bred dl over what was once the vast Austro-Hu

Lipizzan horses2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00