When you close your eyes and think of a “horse,” a general image probably comes to your mind. It has a mane, long legs, and a rounded snout. But while most horses share these basic characteristics, horses actually come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. While all belonging to the same species, different horse breeds can be strikingly distinct in appearance and behavior. These five breeds are the most popular.
American Quarter Horse
Athletic, fast, and docile, the world’s most popular breed is seen in show-rings and racetracks around the globe.
A remarkably old breed, experts trace Arabians’ lineage back to 3000 BC. They can have fiery temperaments, but they’re generally loyal.
Most famous for its prominence in racing, this breed is also suitable in a number of other equestrian areas. Thoroughbreds are often as fiery as they are fast, and excel in jumping and equestrian competitions.
This breed was developed for hunting and fighting by the Nez Perce Native Americans, and is believed to be a mix of formerly-domesticated breeds with wild horses. Their durability and versatility makes them perfect for pleasure riding.
Once prominent among New England farmers, the Morgan has retained its reputation for strength and beauty. It remains a popular breed for riding and driving.
Beyond these specific breeds, there are some general categories of horses that are especially popular.
Encompassing the American quarter horse, the Hanoverian, and several other breeds, this category refers to horses that mix the fire of “hot-blooded” breeds with the tranquility of the “cold-blooded.”
The word “pony” is suitable for any horse that remains small even as an adult (while excluding miniature horses). They are perfect for teaching children how to ride.
A grade horse is the equine equivalent of a “mutt,” meaning it contains an unidentifiable mix of breeds. Despite their lack of pure bred status, grade horses are often excellent companions. They often lack the congenital diseases common in pure breeds.
These horses, which include the paso fino and the Tennessee walking horse, have been especially bred to provide a smooth riding experience.
These sturdy breeds are literal work horses, excellent for pulling and notable for their tremendous strength.