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

Lokai and Tersk Horses


The Lokai and Tersk horses are both native to the country of Russia. The Lokai is a very small horse, and could technically be a pony. The Tersk is a fairly new breed, being developed in the early 20th century. They are both warm blood horses, with go

Lokai and Tersk Horses2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00



The Lusitano Horse is the Portuguese variant of the Iberian Horse. However, this has only been its official name (from Lusitania the old Latin for Portugal) since 1966. They are excellent in the Portuguese bullfighting ring, which is regarded as an art f


Mangalarga Horse


The Mangalarga is a rare horse breed originating in Brazil in the early 19th century when Francisco Gabriel Junqueira began a breeding program crossing Royal Alter Real Stallions from neighboring Portugal with the local brood stock derived from mares brou

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

Mangalarga Marchador


The Mangalarga Marchador is popular and versatile horse and the national horse of Brazil. This beautiful and intelligent breed has an amicable personality which makes these horses are highly trainable and unique.

Mangalarga Marchador2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Maremmana Horse


Developed in the Maremma region of Tuscany and Lazio in Italy, the Maremmano is a solid built horse developed as a utility work horse on farms. These days with the motorbike taking over much of their role as a work horse they are primarily used as a ridi

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

Marwari Horse


ORIGINS of theMarwari The earliest origin of the Marwari horse may have been in the areas to the north-west of India, on the borders of Afghanistan ? in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and particularly in Turkmenistan. If the breed's ancestors came from these

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

Messara Horse (Cretan horse)


The Messara (also known as Cretan horse is a light riding and draft horse found on the island of Crete off the coast of Greece. History The native mountain-type Messara pony exists on the island of Crete since year 1000 or longer. The name comes from the

Messara Horse (Cretan horse)2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Metis Trotter


The Metis Trotter -built for speed, not for looks! The Metis Trotter (or Russian Trotter) first came to life in Russia. With an average height of 15.3hh, the Metis Trotter can come in a range of different colours, including grey, black and chestnut. Most,

Metis Trotter2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Miniature horse


As the name suggests, the Miniature horse is a small horse which typically stands anywhere from 7 to 8 hands high or 28 to 32 inches. Despite its size, this horse has many of the same qualities of any larger horse breed. The Guinness Book of World Record

Miniature horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Missouri Fox Trotter Horse


The Missouri Fox Trotter is among the many American breeds developed for speed combined with a smooth and comfortable gait. These horses have a running walk that can cover great distances in little time, and it is extremely comfortable. This type of gait

Missouri Fox Trotter Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Morab Horse


The Morab horse is a cross between a Morgan horse and an Arabian. This breed possesses the best characteristics of both breeds in temperament, confirmation, endurance and soundness. They are beautiful movers and are an extremely popular mount for novice r

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

Morgan Horse


This horse bred well and was strong and intelligent so it became sought after for breeding purposes. The high demands of "Figure" or "Morgan," and his versatility as a stud resulted in progeny with special characteristics and appearance: stout, strong, go

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

Murgese Horse


The Murgese horse evolved in the dry limestone hills of the Murge district of Southern Italy at a time when the Spanish were masters of the land. Likely they were developed by breeding Barb and Arabian Horses with the local heavy horses such as the Neopol

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

Narragansett Pacer


The Narragansett Pacer is a relatively unknown horse breed, although it was once quite famous. It was created in the state of Rhode Island in the 17th century, and has unknown ancestry. Some people believe the Narragansett Pacer was produced from Irish Ho

Narragansett Pacer2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

National Show Horse


The National Show Horse, founded in the 1980s, is a cross between an American Saddlebred and an Arabian. Or a combination between an American Saddlebred, Arabian, and National Show Horse blood. Both mares and stallions must be registered with their approp

National Show Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Nez Perce Horse


The Nez Perce Horse is archetypal of the original horse which was first documented by North American explorers Lewis and Clark. Though it has undergone many changes since the Nez Perce first used them in the 1800's, they remain a part of the romantic v

Nez Perce Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Nonius and Furioso Horses


The Nonius and the Furioso were first bred in the 19th century in Hungary, using a horse-breeding philosophy dating 1,000 years back to the settlement in the Carpathian basin of the Magyar horsemen, the descendants of the horse peoples of the Asian steppe

Nonius and Furioso Horses2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Noriker Horse


The NORIKER horse makes the majority of the Austrian horse population. Like many old European breeds, it has been subject to change and improvement to meet altered circumstances and conditions. Even so, it has absorbed outcrosses without losing its essent

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

Norwegian Fjord Horse


The Norwegian Fjord Horse is an ancient breed of horse bred entirely in the isolation of Norway. It is a strong and hardy horse which has adjusted over time to the severe Norwegian climate.

Norwegian Fjord Horse2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Novokirghiz Horse


The Novokirghiz Horse is a relatively new breed of horse developed in the 1930s in Kirghizia. It replaced the Old Kirghiz, which was a mountain breed from the high altitudes of Kirghizia and Kazakhstan mainly from Mongolian stock.The Novokirghiz is faster

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

Oldenburger Horse


The Oldenburger was bred in the 17th century as a coach horse that could also work in agriculture. Breeders adapted the horse to the needs of the market, out crossing to chosen breeds while operating selection policies to ensure uniformity of type. The 1

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

Paso Fino Horses


The Paso Fino is a beautiful and spirited horse breed that is gaining in popularity. Originally bred for long hours in the saddle, Paso Finos are now being used for a variety of activities including pleasure riding, endurance riding, western events such a

Paso Fino Horses2013-06-29T00:00:00+02:00

Percheron Horse


The PERCHERON, which originated in the Perche region in Normandy, is one of the most elegant of the heavy horses. Its principal bloodlines are dominated by Arab blood and has a stylish, long, free-striding action. One 9th-century expert, perhaps a little

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

Pleven Horse


Developed in Bulgaria the Pleven horse is a curious breed. The development began at a time when interest in horses as a means of transport was dwindling at the end of the

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