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List of Horse Breeds: A to Z Guide
Horses and people have been bound together for many, many years—perhaps even thousands of years.
There was a time when we viewed a horse as just another food source. But once people learned to ride, this opened up a whole new world; the horse was a fast means of transport, and over hundreds of years, this led to a new relationship between people and horses. Today, horses are used mainly for sporting and recreational purposes.
There are over 150 different horse breeds, and each of these results from some influence by people.
What Is a Horse Breed?
All horses are members of the Equidae family. The horse is then further categorized into different breeds.
The term—breed—describes a group of horses that share distinctive inherited characteristics. Therefore each species has common ancestors and similar genetic makeup.
Also, there are natural breeds and artificial breeds of horses. NATURAL BREEDS have developed characteristics that help them survive in their particular habitats, and they have passed these down to the next generation. ARTIFICIAL BREEDS have features that have been selected for by man, and through cross-breeding, have created horses bred for specific purposes.
Bred by the "Teke" and Turkoman tribes in southern Turkmenia, it is a specialized breed of saddle horse that can exist under heat and privation conditions.
Renowned for their gorgeous Persian heads and a noble eye. They have long elegant legs, leading to their being named the greyhound among horses.
The most popular colors are a pale honey-gold, with black points.
American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse was developed as a breed to race on Virginia's racetracks. These tracks were roughly a quarter of a mile long and lent these horses that name. Specifically built for fast sprinting, its unique points are its closeness to the ground, its tremendous power, and its sturdy frame.
They also have a calm temperament.
Tribute to the American Quarter Horse - video
The American Shetland often competes in a whole range of competitive fields such as jumping, dressage, and gymkhana.
Height: up to 11.2 hands high. Due to their small size, it is considered an ideal ride for kids, often used as children's pets.
Color: Any solid color.
Confirmation: An intelligent and refined head. Long and narrow through the back. Broad, muscular hindquarters.
The Andalusian horse comes from the sun-baked region of Southern Spain. It has a compact and muscular frame—a breed acknowledged as a distinctive breed since the 15th Century.
The Andalusian is considered a courageous horse.
Height: 15 - 15.2 hands high.
Color: This horse is generally grey.
Confirmation: A large and handsome head with large, kind eyes. A strongly formed body with a broad chest and well-sprung ribs. Long mane and tail.
The Appaloosa is a spotted horse much loved by the circus due to its striking appearance and docile temperament. So named from a breed of horse developed by the Nez Perce Indians in the Palouse country of Central Idaho and Eastern Washington.
Height: 14.2 to 15.2 hands high.
Color: The body is pink-skinned and covered by a silky white coat with many black spots.
Characteristics: A graceful carriage and a refined head; its tail is carried high.
The Arab Horse is probably the oldest of all the horse breeds and is also one of the most good looking. The Arab horse has many excellent qualities that most other horse breeds aspire to, chiefly; soundness of wind and extreme endurance, Yet the Arab horse is a small horse standing some 14.2 to 15 hands.
The Ardennes horse is a Belgian or French horse breed. It is an old horse breed and a very hardy horse. In temperament, they are renowned for being calm and docile.
This horse has real endurance and vigor and is considered a draught horse. Historically, utilized as a cavalry horse.
The Ariegeois lives in the Pyrenean mountains in the southwest of France. It is very well suited to the harsh snowy conditions in which it lives.
Height: 13.1 to 14.3 hands high.
Color: Solid black. It is permissible for the horse's flank to be flecked with white.
Confirmation: An expressive head with a flat forehead. Short ears and a short neck. A long straight back and deep chest.
The Assateague and the Ariegeois are essentially the same horse, the two varieties named after the corresponding and neighboring American islands on which they lived. These ponies may have arrived on these islands due to a shipwreck.
Height: 12 hands high
Color: Can be any color.
Terminology Used to Identify a Horse by Age and Gender
Foal: all young horses up to 6 months of age.
Yearling: a horse from 6 months to 12 months of age.
Colt: male horses from 12 months to 48 months of age. Male horses older than this are called stallions. Should the male horse be castrated, it will be called a gelding.
Filly: the name attributed to female horses between the ages of 12 months to 48 months.
Mare: this refers to female horses above the age of 48 months.
A pony of old stock. The Bali Pony lived on the island of Bali. Not being bred for specific purpose. Instead, they carry out all the tasks that the local people require, such as carrying stones and coral from the beaches. They are self-sufficient and are often left to fend for themselves.
Height: 12 to 13 hands high
The Barb comes from Morrocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.
Height: 14.2 to 15.2 hands high.
Color: Predominantly grey, brown, bay, and black.
Confirmation: A narrow head and arched neck. The Barb has well-defined withers and a short body. Slender but strong limbs.
A Pony known for being sure-footed and possessing a quiet temperament, an attractive and durable breed, can make good children's ponies and are considered a good trekking pony.
The Bashkir horse is an ancient breed of horse. Its origins are in the inhospitable areas of the Ural mountains in Russia.
This breed is very much adapted to live in harsh conditions. They are well known for being hardy with a docile temperament. Standing 13 to 14 hands high, they can be bay, chestnut, or palomino in color.
The Basuto Pony originated from around the 1830s in South Africa, where it took part in the Boer War. It is a pony with a great deal of endurance and capable of carrying great weights over long distances.
Height: Up to 14.2 hands high.
Color: Bay, brown, chestnut, or gray.
Confirmation: Small, thickset with short legs and a long back.
The Bosnian Pony originates from Yugoslavia and is an ancient breed of Pony. Thought to have been bred from Tarpan and Asian Wild horses. This Pony has a primitive appearance and a heavy head.
It can be any solid color and is between 13 and 14.2 hands high. It is slightly smaller than the average size of all ponies—a good riding pony.
The Boulonnais horse is an elegant heavy horse said to have been introduced into France by Julia Caeser ahead of Britain's invasion.
Height: 15.3 to 16.3 hands high.
Color: All shades of grey and sometimes chestnut.
Confirmation: A short, broad but elegant head. Large bright ears. Muscular shoulders, broad chest, and strong limbs.
Brabancon Draft Horse
Having originated in the low-lying flatlands of Belgium, it is a large, heavy draft horse with excellent traction. Renowned for being of outstanding temperament.
Height: 16 to 17 hands high
The Brumby is an Australian horse descended from settler's horses that wandered off into the bush. Today they live in feral herds in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Some Brumbies have broken in. Today, the Brumby is considered by many to be a pest as they compete for food with domestic animals.
The Burmese Pony (also referred to as the Shah pony) is a mountain pony, and they make excellent pack or trekking ponies.
They generally have a willing temperament and a quiet disposition. A Pony once used by British Colonials as polo ponies.
What Is a Horse Type?
There are horse or pony types that are not breeds but have specific characteristics. A type refers to a horse suitable for a particular job that can come from any horse breed. For example, a Hunter can be any breed of horse that hunts.
The Cob characteristics are that they have a sturdy build, and they are a great weight carrier, built for stamina rather than speed. There are two breeds of Cob, the Welsh Cob and the Norman Cob. The Welsh Cob was known as far back as the 16th Century. Today the Cob is often seen competing in many equestrian events such as showing, jumping, and driving. The Norman Cob is a descendant of small horses called Bidets that lived in Brittany during the Roman Empire's height.
The Hack is considered the most majestic of horses with an excellent character.
The Hunter should be strong and sturdy with powerful hindquarters. They should have a long neck to allow a reasonable length of rein.
The Polo Pony needs a mixture of speed, courage, stamina, agility, and balance.
The Riding Pony is just a small horse. They should be graceful and have perfect manners.
The Pony should be under 14.2 hands high. Anything above this height, and it is a horse. Ponies are very adaptive animals that have worked with people throughout our history.
This tough little horse is a native of Southern France.
Height: 13.1 - 14.1 hands high.
Confirmation: A large, square head with short, wide-set ears. A reasonably short back and deep chest.
The Caspian is an old horse breed. Renowned for its excellent temperament.
Height: 10 to 12 hands high.
Color: Mostly bay or brown.
Confirmation: An attractive head with an Arab look. Small ears and a muscular neck. Tough hooves, often not requiring shoes.
Cleveland Bay Horse
The Cleveland Bay horse has claims of being the oldest established breed of English horses. This horse breeds qualities are stamina, substance, stylish appearance, and resilience. In the middle ages, it was a pack-horse. More recently used as a carriage horse.
The Clydesdale Horse originates from the mid 18th Century and is a draught horse from Scotland. Standing 16 to 18 hands high, it can bay, brown, or black.
Confirmation: a broad head, wide muzzle, large nostrils, and a bright, intelligent eye. A well-arched and long neck, high withers, and with thighs packed with muscle.
The Connemara Pony is native to Ireland.
Standing 13 to 14 hh, the Connemara is athletic, often being used as a show pony.
Colors: Grey, black, bay, brown, and dun.
Colorado Ranger Horse
This horse breed dates back to 1878. On a visit to Turkey, they presented General U.S. Grant with two first-class stallions that culminated in the Colorado Ranger breed in 1918.
The Colorado Ranger has an excellent temperament and makes an excellent riding-horse.
The Criollo is a native pony from South America.
Height: 13.3 to 14.3 hands high.
Color: Dun, striped, or skewbald.
Confirmation: A broad forehead with a narrow face. Muscular withers.
The Dales horse breed originates from England. This breed probably descends from the old Friesian horse of Europe. The Dales horse is famous for its incredible strength and endurance.
Height: Up to 14.2 hands high.
Mostly black, dark brown, or bay in color.
Confirmation: A neat head set on a shortish thick neck. A strong muscular body.
Danish Warmblood Horse
The Danish Warmblood horse. This breed tends to excel at dressage. A horse breed specifically developed for use in competitive sports such as show jumping.
Height: 15.3 to 16.3 hands high.
Color: All colors.
Confirmation: A quality head, prominent withers, muscular back, and strong limbs.
This horse breed takes its name from the Russian Steppes across which the river Don flows.
Having been bred as cavalry horses, they are very hardy and tough. They endure harsh weather conditions that many other horse breeds would struggle to cope with.
Brown or chestnut in color. They are long-legged and stand between 15.2 and 16.2 hands high.
The Dulmen is an ancient breed of Pony and comes from Dulmen in Germany. These ponies have lived around the town of Dulmen since the 1300s. At one time, they lived in large herds, although these days, there is said only to be a single wild herd remaining.
Dutch Draught Horse
The Dutch Draft Horse is one of the most massively built and muscled breed of horses in Europe.
The horse is known for being willing, with a quiet and intelligent temperament.
It has a very short neck and heavily loaded shoulders.
Dutch Draught Horse Learning its Trade - video
East Bulgarian Horse
The East Bulgarian horse is a horse of refinement and quality. A horse bred for jumping, dressage, and even as a light draught animal.
They have a quiet, though energetic nature and large kind eyes. In color, they are usually chestnut, although they occur in black.
The Exmoor horse is found mainly in Exmoor, in the southwest of Devon, England. They adapted to have a highly waterproof winter coat, which is double-layered with a short, woolly undercoat and a longer, greasier top layer.
Height: 12 to 12.8 hands high.
Color: Dan with black points.
Confirmation: A broad forehead and lighter markings around the eyes. A compact frame and short but strong legs.
The Falabella is a miniature horse breed that stands at under nine hands high.
They can be quite an attractive looking horse, although they can sometimes appear to have too large a head for their size due to inbreeding.
Did you know that the Falabella horse has one or two ribs fewer than other horse breeds?
The Fell Pony is from the North of England, where some 100 years ago, it carried lead from the mines to awaiting ships at Tyneside docks.
Great for riding, the Fell pony stands at 13.3 hands in height.
Color: Black, dark brown, dark bay, grey, or dun.
Confirmation: Powerfully built and alert looking. Long hair on tail and mane.
Florida Cracker Horse
Only recently registered in 1989. The result of breeding from Spanish horses taken to Florida in the 1500s.
This horse is said to have "natural cow sense" and makes an ideal horse for herding cattle,
The Florida Cracker is a small horse, standing between 14 hh and 15 hh. They have a Spanish type head and a muscular neck and are much prized for their stamina and speed.
The Frederiksborg Horse is Denmarks oldest horse breed.
This horse is still being bred in Denmark today, although current demands for a fantastic sports horse have led to a new horse breed—the Danish Warmblood.
The Frederiksborg Horse has a kind head, a short neck, and upright shoulders.
Height: 15.3 to 16 hands high.
French Saddle Pony
A relatively new breed. The French Saddle Pony is a versatile, quiet yet lively mount.
Height: 12.2 to 14.2 hands high.
Color: Can be any color.
Confirmation: A small, refined head with alert ears. The neck is a reasonable length, set on a deep chest. It has a straight back.
The Friesian horse originates from the Netherlands. They are a light draft horse that is agile and nimble for their size. In the middle-ages, knights used them in battle as war horses.
The Friesian horse stands between 15 and 17 hands high.
Color: Black, although sometimes chestnut.
Confirmation: Muscular and agile. Long arched neck, low set tail.
Horses have been domesticated for over 5000 years.
The Galiceno originates from Mexico. It stands up to 14 hands high and can be any solid color.
With a nicely proportioned head, a kind eye, and alert ears. The head is short but muscular, and the legs are strong and well-formed.
The Garrano originates from Portugal. This breed is strong and hardy with a quiet temperament.
Sure-footed and commonly used as pack horses, they are surprisingly speedy and are often used as trotting horses.
This horse takes its name from the Dutch province of Gelderland.
It is a beautifully built horse with a very stylish action. In Holland, it is renowned as a show horse.
Height is between 15.2 and 16 hands.
For centuries this little horse was unique to Gotland, which is in the Baltic Sea.
The Gotland pony is quite an athletic jumper and very speedy—often used in trotting races.
Height: 12 to 12.2 hands high.
The Hackney pony is a recognized horse breed from Great Britain.