With over 300 horse breeds on the planet, keeping track of them all can be tough. There are also different horses for every purpose whether it is for equestrian competition, casual riding, or working. But the question is, what are the popular horse breeds out there?
Known for its elegance, speed, and mild demeanor, the American Quarter Horse is a consistent favorite, a breed many hippophiles would agree. A close second is the Appaloosa, a sturdy horse that’s been around for millenia and highly regarded by riders of all levels. And who would forget the alluring American Paint Horse famous for its rather eye-catching color and pattern?
Horses come in various sizes, coat colors and shapes – and we are here to cover the most famous one throughout generations. Learn more about these stunning equines loved by riding enthusiasts all over the world.
44. American Quarter Horse
One of America’s oldest and most popular horse breeds, the Quarter Horse is a vision of beauty, power, and strength. They easily get along with people, which makes them quick to train. In fact, they make amazing pets because of their amicable character.
When not in the ranch, these horses excel in equestrian sports and activities. But most of all, they are great riding companions for your pleasure riding adventures.
Loved by equestrians for centuries, the Appaloosa is often seen in Western riding sports and rodeo events. In fact, there were also some that have appeared on TV and in the movies, as these horses were famous for their stellar build and unique markings.
But overall, they are gentle animals that are a joy to be around with. They only want to please their riders, which makes them great for pleasure riding and driving classes for beginners and experienced ones.
42. Irish Draught
Ireland’s national horse breed, the Irish Draught was originally bred for farm work. These equines possess exceptional strength that enable them to perform numerous tasks. Among their key abilities are eventing, leisure riding, showjumping, and dressage.
With its well-balanced temperament and mellow nature, Irish Draught horses are gentle giants. They can do well with riders of all levels who can treat them with respect and consideration.
The Ardennais has been around for centuries, and no wonder it remains to be one of the most popular horse breeds in the world. To say that it is powerful is an understatement as it is impeccably strong, sturdy, and sure-footed. This is why this breed excels greatly in forestry tasks and farming.
As it is a heavy creature, it works well when navigating the toughest hilly terrains. They are also outstanding for competition driving and therapeutic riding, to name a few.
40. Peruvian Paso
Smooth and steady are the best words to describe the Peruvian Paso’s movement. This well-balanced horse is most outstanding as a riding or trailing horse. With their impressive presence and air of confidence, they also do well in parade mounts.
Peruvian Pasos are agreeable creatures. First-time riders will find it a pleasure to mount on these horses because of its mellow and docile character. And yes, it’s a fine-looking equine, as well!
39. Dutch Warmblood
An exceptional sport horse, the Dutch Warmblood earned its fame from the International Equestrian World. Professional riders opt for this horse breed in competition and recreational purposes, as well as showjumping, dressage, and driving.
Quite notable for its athleticism and even temperament, this horse breed is truly one of a kind. They also do an amazing job in hunter competitions because of their alertness, above average intelligence, and reliability.
38. Westphalian Horse
The Westphalian may share some resemblance with the Hanoverian’s features, but the former has a coarse and more rugged build. These are well-muscled horses with big bodies combined with a sweeping, swift stride.
With its elastic gait and stability, Westphalian horses excel in showjumping and dressage, as well as show hunting and driving. Both amateurs and elite professional riders vouch on the exceptional riding experience that this horse breed has to offer.
37. Rocky Mountain Horse
Known for its versatility, the Rocky Mountain Horse is a popular choice by hardy equestrians. This breed has a smooth and steady gait, which enables it to do well in trail riding just as much as it excels in show ring competitions.
A truly versatile horse, this breed can cover impressive distances at a quicker pace – and without exhaustion. They are also lauded for tackling with grace and poise even the most punishing trails.
Historically bred to pull carriages, the Oldenburger has come a long way since its inception in the 17th century. It was also a mainstay in agriculture work because of its strength and power. Today, this breed is regarded for competition and recreational riding.
Oldenburgers are even-tempered equines. They have massive builds that can easily intimidate anyone, yet their demeanor is always pleasant and mellow.
35. Nez Perce Horse
The Nez Perce Horse was originally used as racehorses and buffalo hunters because of their great power and versatility. Traders and explorers turned to this breed for their numerous tasks whether for transportation or carrying an enormous amount of loads.
It is quite fascinating to see that this horse breed comes in different shapes and sizes. Some are leaner and long-necked while others are more muscular with heavy bones and an overall rounder build. Either way, it is always a pleasure to ride these mild-mannered beasts!
34. French Trotter
Highly regarded as a racing horse by equestrians in France and throughout the world, the French Trotter is all about speed and balance. These horses have a calm disposition that allows it to maintain stability even when under pressure.
French Trotters are well-disciplined and determined creatures. Combined with their high level of energy, they can easily compete with a Thoroughbred’s speed.
33. Paso Fino
Paso Fino riders claim that once you have experienced riding this breed, you could never go back. While it may be a subjective statement, there is definitely something quite enigmatic about this breed. With its striking looks, smoothness of gait, and impressive presence, these equines have certainly earned their bragging rights.
Versatility is another strong feature of the Paso Fino. It works brilliantly in various disciplines including parade riding, mounted shooting, competitive trail riding, and drill team competitions.
32. Fjord Horse
The very first Norewegian Fjord horse is believed to have existed 4,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest, purest equine breeds on the planet. That means they have galloped the earth past the last ice age!
With its brown dun-colored coat, zebra stripes on its limbs and signature dorsal stripe running along the back, neck, and tail, the Fjord horse is one unique-looking beast. They also have a white mane with a dark hue on the center, which accentuates its long and graceful neck.
31. Icelandic Horse
Riding the Icelandic horse is a uniquely pleasant experience, thanks to its infamous gait style called the “Tölt.” They are highly skilled at performing a couple more additional gaits, which does not only help them to conserve energy but also varies the speed to cover far distances.
Although they may not be your average tall horse, these equines are hardy, sure-footed and long-lived. They can withstand the toughest climates because of their double coat. No matter what the task, they are sure to perform them in flying colors.
30. Hackney Horse
Hackneys are regarded for their eye-catching knee action, which makes them amazing driving horses. Their agility and speed are impeccable, along with their balance and grace. Unfortunately, this is an endangered breed with under 200 of them currently existing in the United States.
Driving may be its strongest suit but Hackneys are also suitable for jumping and dressage. A recent addition to their abilities is carriage driving, which has inspired breeders to develop this rare breed more.
29. Orlov Trotter
A versatile breed, this well-known Russian horse has been around for centuries. Orlov Trotters are a combination of stamina, endurance, strength, and speed, making them an all-around equine. However, its most outstanding skills are pleasure riding, sport riding, and driving.
Sadly, cultural changes and political conflicts in Russia have threatened this breed’s survival. Currently, there are only 800 mares registered with its survival in jeopardy.
An athletic horse excelling in showjumping and dressage, the Trakehner is not your average equine. With their agreeable nature, mellow temperament, and level-headedness, they do well with riders of varied levels including the inexperienced ones who are just getting well-versed with riding.
Popular as a dressage horse, they are also outstanding in showjumping, eventing, and driving. Their endurance is exceptional, combined with their speed and strength.
27. Anglo Arabian
The Anglo Arabian is a horse full of contrasts – high-spirited but sweet, fast but steady, and refined yet hardy. Overall, this is the horse breed you want when you prefer a sport horse that makes every ride an enjoyable experience.
It shares the same physical features with the Thoroughbred but the agility of the Arabian horse. With good looks and versatility, the Anglo Arabian is a solid bet for a first-timer and experienced riders alike.
26. Gypsy Horse
Flaunting their feathering and flashy coats, the Gypsy Vanner is one extraordinary equine. They are also calm and gentle, which makes them a good fit for children and beginner riders.
In history, Gypsies were all-around horses. They pulled carts and caravans, assisted with farm work, and transported explorers and traders. Today, they compete at driving and showjumping events, thanks to their reliability and well-roundedness.
25. Canadian Horse
Considered as one of Canada’s strongest equine breeds, the Canadian Horse is quite tough and hardy. They have been around for decades and their popularity continues. In fact, they are Canada’s animal symbol and national breed.
Canadian Horses have some similarities with other draft breeds such as the Percheron, Clydesdale, and Belgian. But they are also unique in a way that during the prime of this breed, one type of Canadian Horse was able to race fast on ice!
24. Barb Horse
Although they are much more preferred for general riding, Barb horses are just as reliable in competitive performances. Their versatility also allows them to do well in the military and agriculture, ever-reliable with doing tasks assigned to them.
With their eagerness to please and intelligence, these horses are a breeze to ride. They are highly trainable, coupled with their docile and mellow nature – a great equine companion indeed.
They may be compact and stocky but Haflinger horses are never short of stamina, speed, and confidence. They are talented equines that perform very well in various sports and disciplines including trail riding, jumping, and dressage, to name a few.
Additionally, Haflinger makes it easy to mount because of its size. So, if you are a beginner rider, this may just be the horse for you.
22. American Saddlebred
One look at the American Saddlebred, and it’s easy to be blown away by its show-stopping performance and elegance. These horses are famous for their two extra gaits, which add comfort to every rider.
As for their appearance, they are quite tall and muscular. Their coats are often in shades of brown, black, and chestnut. They are a sight to behold and an enjoyable ride worth experiencing.
21. Hanoverian Horse
A horse of German origin, the Hanoverian horse is a robust and sturdy equine. They are of noble origin and the ride of choice by royals and elites in their home country and other parts of the world.
Hanoverians are noted for their well-proportioned bodies coupled with their smooth stride and flexible movements. Whether they participate in mounted athletics or dressage, they never fail to leave the crowd in awe of their performance.
20. Missouri Fox Trotter
Noted for their ability to amble, the Missouri Fox Trotter knows how to make a fine impression among spectators. These horses show off their majestic gait, and this signature move is what gave this equine its name.
With their precise and smooth movements, these creatures can easily wow a crowd. Their strong build and sure-footedness are only a few of the reasons why this breed has been one of the most sought-after by equestrians worldwide.
An ancient German warmblood, Holsteiners are agile and strong horses. They are champions in two key disciplines – cross country and show jumping. No matter how broad the distance, they can cover it with such great speed and precision.
In spite of its heavy frame, the Holsteiner can maintain a notable range of speed. They are also outstanding carriage horses and suitable for trail riding because of their sure and secure movements.
A genuine gentle giant, the Percheron may seem intimidating because of its build. After all, they have once been war horses! However, they are one of the gentlest creatures out there.
Among their greatest abilities is competing in horse-pull circuits. They can also do well in other types of riding because of its versatility and trainable character.
17. Cleveland Bay
Its lineage is one of the purest and oldest in history. Yet, new generation Cleveland Bay horses maintain the trademark speed, agility, and strength that their ancestors possessed.
These horses are noted for their power and long hindquarters that go perfectly well with their large heads. But if you look at their eyes, you will see the sweetest and gentlest expression. They are massive sweethearts both in and out of the show ring.
The Ahkal-Teke is a rare and exotic horse breed. These creatures were the main mode of transportation by nomads of Turkmenistan and used for trading and exploration. They have been around for centuries, yet their popularity as being one of the fastest and strongest equines remain.
In modern times, Ahkal-Teke horses excel in various activities such as pleasure riding, show jumping, dressage and long-distance riding.
Most commonly seen as the star of harness racing, Standardbred horses is one of the toughest and most powerful equines out there. But when outside the track, they are often seen as relaxed and gentle creatures that make them a fine companion for recreational riding, as well.
Their fame as competitive horses may have taken over but they can perform other tasks, too. Whether it is endurance riding, pleasure driving, or jumping, the Standardbred can do it all.
14. Miniature Horse
Miniature horses are some of the sweetest and friendliest steeds you can find. They are perfect companion animals, although they have performed more rigorous tasks in history such as mine work. With their compact sizes, they can easily fit in tight and narrow spaces.
Today, these horses are taken care of as pets. They also participate in different contests including jumping, obstacle-running, and lead-line, among many others.
13. Belgian Horse
Belgian horses are the largest and tallest equine breed by far. They are noted for their square head, muscular neck, and lean legs with feathering. Their coats also come in a few different colors, although chestnut is the most common.
Being that they are strong and heavy horses, they can perform numerous energy-demanding tasks. These include agriculture work, caravan pulling, as well as draft competitions.
12. Shetland Pony
If you look back at your very first riding days, it may be likely that you had a Shetland Pony as your riding companion. These horses are small, yet strong and brave. They can be trained easily thanks to their intelligence and eagerness to please.
But don’t be deceived by their diminutive sizes; these horses are quite sturdy. In fact, they can even outwork a massive draft horse as Shetland Ponies are hardy and resilient creatures.
11. Friesian Horse
Sleek and graceful, Friesian horses are made for sporting and competitive events. They are nimble equines that can get from point A to point B with very minimal effort.
They may be prized for their athleticism and impeccable performance in jumping and driving. However, they are also suitable for recreational riding. Thus, even children riders should find these horses a joy to ride with, thanks to their gentle demeanor.
10. Tennessee Walking Horse
For people who suffer from a bad back, the Tennessee Walking Horse is a great option for a riding companion. These horses are famous for their smooth walks, which will not irritate a painful back at all.
Combined with a level-headed character and stability, these horses can make any ride comfortable. They can also do farm work well, so they are perfect not just in shows but in the vast outdoors, as well.
9. Shire Horse
Shire Horses are magnificent beasts that are one of the tallest in the world. They have feathering on the legs and massive hooves, which are part of their appeal. Although they may seem intimidating for some people because of their enormous build, they are actually calm and docile creatures.
Because of its gargantuan physique, Shire Horses worked in farms and fields, pulling carts and wagons. Today, they are excellent riding companions for show and leisure.
8. Clydesdale Horse
A mighty steed, the Clydesdale Horse is among the heaviest equine breeds. They have a high-stepping, powerful gate and an imposing stature that is impossible to miss.
Historically, these horses engaged in military work as war horses and transported armed soldiers. They also helped out farmers by hauling logs, pulling milk wagons, and performing strenuous hauling jobs.
7. Andalusian Horse
Andalusian horses are stunning creatures with long and flowing manes. Their beauty is coupled by their graceful movement and mellow character.
With its impeccable charm and strength, Andalusians are also amazing in several disciplines such as trail riding and dressage. They are versatile fellows that never fail to impress their fans in the show ring.
6. Arabian Horse
Arabians are a combination of striking looks and balanced character. They are mild and gentle creatures that make it one of the easiest to train. Beginners should have a comfortable experience riding this beautiful equine.
As they have lived in harsh conditions in their home country, these horses are noted for their stamina and endurance. They also have no problem with long distance riding.
Known mainly as race horses, Thoroughbreds are actually multi-purpose equines. They can serve as driving horses just as well as a racehorse. It is their athleticism and spirited personality that helped them perform strenuous tasks with ease and grace.
Clad in chestnut, gray, brown, or black coats, these are fine-looking horses. They also have some leg or facial markings while others are plain and lacking any distinct marks on their bodies.
4. Morgan Horse
Versatile and friendly, the Morgan Horse is a dear friend to humans. This is why it is one of the easiest to keep because of its amicable character.
During wartime, Morgans served as trotting horses and pulling wagons, especially in the American West. But nowadays, they participate in various equestrian sports including driving, jumping, trotting races, and sidesaddle classes.
3. American Paint Horse
As the name implies, the American Paint Horse is quite eye-catching with its unique coloring and coat patterns. They are popular horses for many activities such as general riding, working, as well as jumping.
These are genial creatures with a mellow personality. Training them is relatively easy as they are always driven by the desire to please their owners.
2. Black Forest Horse
The mighty Black Forest Horse is a rare German draft breed. In fact, there are only around 700 mares of this breed that are currently registered. They are noted for their graceful movements and their gorgeous long mane.
Beyond their good looks, Black Forest horses are prized for their stellar demeanor. They are hard working fellows that get the job done whether it is farm work, carriage pulling, or competitions.
An ancient horse breed, the Lusitano has come a long way since its development in the rugged Iberian Peninsula. This graceful and enchanting equine has been the preference ride of choice by royals, members of the nobility, and heroes of years past.
With its majestic stature, eagerness to please, and confidence, Lusitano horses excel in a number of competitions and equestrian disciplines such as driving and dressage.
What Is The Most Expensive Horse? The most expensive horse breed is the Thoroughbred. In fact, a Thoroughbred named Fusaichi Pegasus holds the record as the world’s most expensive horse at $70 million.
What Is The Most Common Breed Of Horse? With 3 million or so currently registered in the world, the American Quarter Horse is one of the most common and most popular horse breeds in the United States.
What Is The Most Common Horse Color? The most common horse color is bay, which is also the base color of many breeds. Other common hair colors are black and chestnut, with the latter appearing in either a darker or lighter shade.