If you’re not an equestrian aficionado, you may be surprised to learn how many different horse breeds there are. To get you started, we’re counting down the 10 most popular breeds of horse in the world, from work horses to race horses to dressage horses and beyond.
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10. MISSOURI FOX TROTTING HORSE
The Missouri fox trotter was developed in the Ozark Mountains in the early 1800s. Breeders mixed Arabian horses, Morgan horses, Tennessee walking horses and other breeds from the neighboring states of Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas. The breed is known for the gait that gives it its name, resulting in a smooth, surefooted and comfortable ride.
9. ANDALUSIAN HORSE
An ancient breed, the Andalusian horse is mentioned in Homer’s “The Iliad,” and there are even cave paintings from 20,000 years ago that depict Andalusian-like steeds. They are exceptionally agile horses with physical capabilities that make them well-suited for dressage competition, an equestrian sport that displays the highest level of horse training. Most Andalusian horses are gray, but sometimes are found in other colors.
8. TENNESSEE WALKING HORSE
Like the Missouri fox trotter, the Tennessee walking horse was developed in America during the 19th century. The breed is defined by the its unique “running walk” gait that is both fast and smooth. Although appreciated by pleasure riders, Tennessee walking horses are often seen in competition as well.
7. MORGAN HORSE
Morgan horses can be traced back to a horse named Figure who lived in 18th-century Vermont with owner Justin Morgan. Figure was likely a mix of Arabian and Thoroughbred horses, and perhaps some other breeds. He combined strength and endurance with a calm demeanor and intelligence, a desirable mix of traits that was passed on to his descendants.
6. APPALOOSA HORSE
The history of the Appaloosa is tied closely to the Nez Perce tribe of Native Americans. Horses imported from Mexico reached the Nez Perce people, who lived in what is now Washington, Oregon and Idaho, in the 18th century. The Nez Perce grew into excellent horse breeders, creating strong, intelligent horses with leopard spots. These were the first Appaloosas.
5. THOROUGHBRED HORSE
The term "thoroughbred" sometimes is used as a synonym for "purebred," but thoroughbreds are in fact a specific breed of horse. Extremely athletic animals, thoroughbreds are best known for their ubiquitousness in the sport of horse racing. Their speed and stamina has made them popular in other equestrian sports as well.
4. MINIATURE HORSE
Miniature horses have been around for hundreds of years, but their presence and development in the United States is relatively recent. The breed came to the States in the 1930s and for a few decades were used for working in coal mines. In the 1970s, registries for miniature horses began to establish them as a unique breed.
3. PAINT HORSE
American paint horses are known for and identified by their various pinto colorings and markings. The terms “paint” and “pinto” often are used interchangeably, but in fact, “paint” is a specific breed type, while “pinto” describes a type of color pattern that can occur in different breeds. Paint horses are regarded for their amiable personalities and intelligence.
2. QUARTER HORSE
Quarter horses are noticeably muscular horses that one often can find at rodeos or working on ranches. They’re also known for speed and are popular as race horses. It’s the most popular horse breed in the United States, with more than five million registered with the American Quarter Horse Association.
Next: Cool Horse Facts!
1. ARABIAN HORSE
Arabian horses aren’t only the most popular horse breed in the word, but also one of the oldest. There is archeological evidence placing Arabian horses in the Middle East nearly 5,000 years back. Today, the breed is one of the all-around most excellent breeds in the world due to their intelligence, grace and strength. Hailing from harsh desert conditions, they have large lung capacity and incredible endurance. Arabian horses are excellent for riding, work, competition and everything in between.