10 Famous Horse Breeds

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Worldwide, horses play a role within human cultures and have done so for millennia. Horses are used for leisure activities, sports, and working purposes. Horses are trained to be ridden or driven in a variety of sporting competitions. Horses have been used in warfare for most of recorded history. This is a list of the top 20 most popular breeds around the world according to iDakotaOne as of October 2007. This list was compiled through a survey of individual breeders and breed association websites.

 10. Arabian


The Arabian horse is a breed of horse that originated in the Middle East. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is one of the oldest horse breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses from the Middle East spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and good bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse. The breed standard for Arabian horses, as stated by the United States Equestrian Federation, describes the Arabians as standing between 14.1 and 15.1 hands (57 to 61 inches (145 to 155 cm)) tall, Arabian horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. Most display a distinctive concave or “dished” profile. Many Arabians also have a slight forehead bulge between their eyes, called the “jibbah” by the Bedouin, that adds additional sinus capacity, believed to have helped the Arabian horse in its native dry desert climate. Another breed characteristic is an arched neck with a large, well-set windpipe set on a refined, clean throatlatch. This structure of the poll and throatlatch was called the mithbah or mithbeh by the Bedouin, and in the best Arabians is long, allowing flexibility in the bridle and room for the windpipe.


9. American Quarter Horse


American Quarter Horse, one of the oldest recognized breeds of  horses in the United States. The breed originated about the 1660s as a cross between native horses of Spanish origin used by the earliest colonists and English horses imported to Virginia from about 1610. By the late 17th century, these horses were being raced successfully over quarter-mile courses in Rhode Island and Virginia, and hence received the name Quarter Horses. These hardy horses are medium boned. Their heads are finely chiselled, with a wide forehead and a flat profile. Their legs are sturdy without being coarse, and their shoulders and haunches are heavy and muscular. There are a few distinct types of Quarter Horses, such as the more leggy racing stock, or the more compact reining types. Foundation Quarter Horses are bred to remain true to the original Quarter Horse type, used for cattle work on the open range. There are 17 recognized colours of the American Quarter Horse including the most prominent color of sorrel (brownish red). The others are bay, black, brown, buckskin, chestnut, dun, red dun, gray, grullo, palomino, red roan, blue roan, bay roan, perlino and cremello. The height of mature animals varies from 14.3 to 16 hands (about 57 to 64 inches, or 145 to 163 cm), and their weight varies from 950 to 1,200 pounds (431 to 544 kg).


8. Paint


To fully understand the Paint horse, you have to understand the markings and what they represent. This will help you identify different types of paint horses. The Overo pattern refers to a paint horse where the white markings do not happen between the withers and tail. An added characteristic is that one if not all of the horse’s legs will be a solid color- brown, gray, back or tan. The markings on the face may be standard but most of the markings on the rest of the body will be irregular and scattered. The American Paint Horse is a breed of horse that combines both the conformational characteristics of a western stock horse with a pinto spotting pattern of white and dark coat colours.  Paint horses have a reputation of being one of the hardest working breeds in America. This is why in the old west they were popular with farmers, Native Americans and any one that needed a ride from one area to another. They are very intelligent making them easy to train plus, they’re athletic and very strong with muscular hind legs. Other characteristics that describe the paint horse include good weight distribution and a low center of gravity due to their small stature. They’re also one of the friendliest breeds you will ever encounter. American Paint horse breed has an average height of 16 hands, which is moderately taller  than the average  for all Horse Breeds. The life expectancy of the American Paint is 31 years, which is significantly better  than the average  for all Horse Breeds. The average weight of a American Paint horse is 1,100 pounds, which is  the average   for all Horse Breeds The American Paint horse breed has been seen with a Bay,  Black,  Brown,  Buckskin,  Chesnut,  Cremello,  Dun,  Gray,  Grullo,  Palomino,  Perlino and  Roan colored coat.


7. Miniature Horse


Miniature horses are found in many nations, particularly in Europe and the Americas. The designation of miniature horse is determined by the height of the animal, which is usually less than 34–38 inches (86–97 cm). Miniature horses come in every possible horse color. Many horse breeds allow only certain colors, For example, an Arabian horse, Quarter Horse, or a Thoroughbred cannot have patches of color like a pinto or spots like an Appaloosa. But variety in color is encouraged in minis. They can have Appaloosa spots, pinto patches, solid colors, or they can be beautiful tan buckskins with dark legs, manes, and tails. Some colors that are rare in other breeds are common in minis, such as dark bodies with white or cream manes and tails. In
miniature horse shows, there are even special competitions for the most colorful horses. Miniature horses have a long history and a worldwide distribution. Their exact origins are obscure and they vary from country to country. But horses and ponies, bred-down through selective breeding techniques to become miniaturized horses, have been developed on every continent. In Europe they originated in the 17th Century, where pony breeds were bred as pets for the nobility and others were developed to work in the coal mines. The term ‘miniature horse’ encompasses all of these breeds and is considered a breed in itself. The Falabella Horses are miniature horses from Argentina, South America and are one of the smallest breeds of horse. In South Africa, there is the South African Miniature Horse that is also now recognized as a distinct breed.


6. Thoroughbred


The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded” horses, known for their agility, speed and spirit. Developed in England for racing and jumping. The origin of the Thoroughbred may be traced back to records indicating that a stock of Arab and Barb horses was introduced into England as early as the 3rd century. Thoroughbreds have delicate heads, slim bodies, broad chests, and short backs. Their short leg bones allow a long, easy stride. They are sensitive and high-spirited. Averaging 16 hands (64 inches, or 163 cm) high and weighing about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) at maturity, Thoroughbreds are usually bay, chestnut, brown, black, or gray. Outstanding for speed and stamina, they have been combined with and have improved several other breeds of horses. The term thoroughbred is sometimes incorrectly used to mean purebred, but Thoroughbreds are a specific breed, registered in the General Stud Book of the English Jockey Club.


5. Appaloosa


The Appaloosa is a horse breed best known for its colorful leopard spotted coat pattern. There is a wide range of body types within the breed, stemming from the influence of multiple breeds of horses throughout its history. Each horse’s color pattern is genetically the result of various spotting patterns overlaid on top of one of several recognized base coat colors. Today, the Appaloosa is one of the most popular breeds in the United States; it was named the official state horse of Idaho in 1975. It is best known as a stock horse used in a number of western riding disciplines, but is also a versatile breed with representatives seen in many other types of equestrian activity. Appaloosas have been used in many movies; an Appaloosa is the mascot for the Florida State Seminoles. Appaloosa bloodlines have influenced other horse breeds, including the Pony of the Americas, the Nez Perse Horse and several gaited horse breeds. The weight range varies from 950 to 1,250 pounds (430 to 570 kg), and heights from 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches, 142 to 163 cm). Native American Indian horsemen of the Nez Perce developed the first American bloodline of Appaloosa. Modern Appaloosas are bred and preserved by the Appaloosa Horse Club.


4. Morgan Horse


The breed standard of the Morgan horse is very specific and outlines the ideal qualities of the breed. The head should be refined and chiseled, ears short and well shaped. Their neck should be set on elegantly and be strong but supple. The body is distinctively compact, suggesting strength and agility. The legs should be strong, but refined. Overall, the Morgan should give an impression of strength, elegance, sturdiness and alertness. Morgan Horses average from 14.1 hands to 15.2 hands high. There is no strict standard, so horses may be shorter and taller. The original Morgan horse was said to have been able to out-walk, trot or pull any horse. They were the ultimate all-purpose horse, as at home plowing the fields as pulling the family buggy to church in fine harness. They were used as trotting horses on the race track, cavalry mounts and Morgans were hitched or ridden on the way to open up the American west. They’ve also been used as cow horses and pack horses. The strong compact body and refined and neat top line are distinctive. They have chiseled heads with a large expressive eye. They are tractable and courageous, although some people say they have a stubborn streak. Their demeanor is proud and alert, and they carry their heads and tails elegantly. They are known to be ‘easy keepers’, not requiring special care or pampering. The one word that most succinctly describes the Morgan however is “versatile’.


3. Tennessee Walking Horse


The modern Tennessee Walking Horse is described as “refined and elegant, yet solidly built.”It is a tall horse with a long neck. The head is well-defined, with small, well-placed ears. The breed averages 14.3 to 17 hands (59 to 68 inches, 150 to 173 cm) high and 900 to 1,200 pounds (410 to 540 kg). The shoulders and hip are long and sloping, with a short back and strong coupling. The hindquarters are of moderate thickness and depth and well-muscled. It is a breed of gaited horse known for its unique four-beat “running walk” and flashy movement. It was originally developed in the southern United States for use on farms and plantations. It is a popular riding horse due to its calm disposition, smooth gaits and sure-footedness. The Tennessee Walking Horse is often seen in the show ring, but also popular as a pleasure and trail riding horse using both English and Western equipment. Tennessee Walkers are also seen in movies, television shows and other performances. Originally bred as a utility horse, this breed is an ideal mount for riders of all ages and levels of experience. The breed easily adapts to English or Western gear, and its calm, docile temperament combined with naturally smooth and easy gaits insure the popularity of the Tennessee Walking Horse as the “world’s greatest show, trail, and pleasure horse”.


2. Welsh Pony and Cob


The Welsh Pony and Cob are closely related horse breeds including both pony and cobtypes, which originated in Wales in the United Kingdom. The breed society for the Welsh breeds has four sections, primarily distinguished by height, but also by variations in type: the Welsh Mountain Pony (Section A), the Welsh Pony (Section B), the Welsh Pony of Cob Type (Section C), and the Welsh Cob (Section D). Welsh ponies and cobs are known for their good temperament, hardiness, and free-moving gaits. All sections of Welsh ponies and Welsh cobs have small heads with large eyes, sloped shoulders, short backs and strong hindquarters. The forelegs are straight and the cannon bone short. The tail is high-set. The breed ranges from 11 hands (44 inches, 112 cm) for the smallest ponies to over 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) for the tallest cobs. The Welsh Pony has been put to many uses. Historically, they were used for postal routes and in coal mines.


1. Andalusian


The Andalusian has always been known  for its incredible athletic ability as a war horse but it was in the hands of  the bull owners that the Andalusian earned its reputation as the greatest  athlete and stock-working animal in the equine world. The Quarter Horse and  other breeds noted for their “cow sense” inherited this ability from their  Andalusian ancestors. In the valley of Guadalquivir River, Spanish cowboys have  long used their Andalusian horses in handling the bulls, considered exceedingly  temperamental stock. Few horses would feel comfortable working these dangerous  animals, yet Andalusians appear to delight in the work. With the incredible  speed and handiness, they can maneuver an angry bull, dodging in and out and  barely missing the hooking horns when the bull charges. The Andalusian is well built; a  finely sculptured head with straight or subconvex profile; mobile ears;  vivacious eyes with a quiet and kind expression; elegant arched neck with a  well developed crest and a long, profuse and often wavy mane and tail. It has  well-defined withers and a strong back; well  developed chest and rounded quarters with a low tail-set; long sloping  shoulders; strong legs with ample bone, broad flexible joints; and the hoof is  well formed, sound and iron hard. Size is generally 15-16.2 hands. Grey is the predominant color  followed by bay and black which is more rare. Other colors now accepted include  chestnut and the dilute colors. Today the Andalusian horse can be  seen in a wide variety of uses. They versatility is unequalled and they can and  do excel in all events and riding and driving disciplines.. When we speak of  versatility we are not only referring to the breed as a whole but to each  horse. You can do many different things with one horse, with this breed. They are excellent western event  horses, cattle events and working ranch horses and all English events from  hunter, pleasure to dressage. Their performance as jumpers is outstanding and  they are phenomenal driving horses.

***Ranking Based on chart by iDakotaOne October, 2007.***


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