Different Breeds of Horses: An Introduction

Palomino Quarter Horse Stallion—eXtensionHorses (Flickr.com)One of the most beautiful and intriguing aspects of horses is that there a wide array of different horse breeds that possess certain physical and mental traits that make them good for certain sports and activities. There are approximately 267 horse breeds in the world; this is designed to provide an introduction to the major groups of horse breeds. It’s important to keep in mind that in addition to the breeds listed here, there are still a wide array of other horse breeds.

American Horses: 

American Paint Horse Piebald

American Paint Horse Piebald—luagh45 (Flickr.com)

These are horse breeds who were bred into what they are today in America. While these horses may have originated in America, they can of course be found all over the world.

  • Paints
  • Quarter Horses
  • Saddlebreds
  • Appendix Quarter Horses
  • Thoroughbreds
  • Appaloosas
  • Tennessee Walking Horses
  • Mustangs
  • Morgans
  • Standardbreds


Trakehner mare and foal

Trakehner mare and foal—ktylerconk (Flickr.com)

While their often stereotyped as dressage horses, Warmbloods are extraordinarily talented and are often involved in all of the English riding disciplines. Nearly all, excluding the American Warmblood, Warmbloods have foundations in European countries. There are numerous different breeds of warmbloods including:

  • American Warmbloods
  • Dutch Warmbloods
  • Danish Warmbloods
  • Swedish Warmbloods
  • Hanoverians
  • Holsteiners
  • Trakehners
  • Westphalians
  • Belgian Warmbloods
  • Oldenburg
  • Selle Francais
  • Irish Sport Horses
  • Cleveland Bay


Pleasant Hill Percherons

Pleasant Hill Percherons—cwwycoff1 (Flickr.com)

With breeding that enables them to pull heavy weights, draft horses are also very sensible with loving personalities. Sometimes referred to as “gentle giants” draft horses have many attributes that make them wonderful and gifted horses. Draft crosses that have been crossed with lighter horses are often extraordinarily athletic. Furthermore, some draft breeds such as Fjords, Friesians, and Irish Draughts are often found participating in many English and Western disciplines. Draft breeds include:

  • Percherons
  • Belgians
  • Clydesdales
  • Irish Draught Horses (also considered a Warmblood)
  • Fjords
  • Friesians
  • Gypsy Vanners
  • Haflingers
  • Shires
  • Suffolk Punches

Foreign Breeds: 


Andalusian Horse (Flickr.com)

While it depends on the breed, several foreign breeds of horses are very talented and are bred to have specific traits. For example, Andalusians and Lusitanos are often used in Bullfights in Spain, but also make fantastic dressage horses. Arabians are the top endurance horses in the world and when crossed with a Thoroughbred, become very versatile and athletic. While “foreign” is a broad term to use, here are horse breeds that didn’t fit anywhere else:

  • Andalusian
  • Lusitano
  • Arabian
  • Paso Finos
  • Australian Stock Horses
  • Lippizaners


shetland pony

shetland pony—mrpattersonsir (Flickr.com)

A pony is any horse that is under 14.2 hands. While the smaller size of ponies make them good choices for children, ponies can also be extremely bratty.

  • Connemaras
  • Shetlands
  • Welsh Ponies
  • Jutlands
  • Hackney Ponies
  • Miniature Ponies
  • Exmoors
  • Chincoteague Ponies

What Breed of Horse is Right for Me?

If you’re trying to decide on the right breed of horse to ride a buy, rest assured that you can make an informed decision. The breed of horse that is best for you will depend on your level of riding and future goals. If you need help making a decision, an experienced horse person is the best person to ask.

Filed in: The Basics

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2 Responses to "Different Breeds of Horses: An Introduction"

  1. Jessie says:

    Oh the Arabians are my favourite. Every year I buy a calendar via mail order that has Arabians on it. Last year they sent me the wrong calendar – this one had Shetland Ponies!!! Needless to say it went straight back and I waited patiently for my beloved Arabians to arrive. Nothing is as beautiful as them!

  2. horsesfortrail says:

    The quarter horse is an all-around horse used by every discipline. Quarter horses are athletic and smart making them suitable for all types of activities.

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