Horse enthusiasts know that the best horse breeds are valued for their speed, agility, stamina, and look. Some have smooth ambling perfect for beginner riders, while others can handle the most difficult equestrian tricks.
All the best breeds for sport are listed in a legitimate organization to ensure their qualities.
Here are 17 of the best breeds in the world and their characteristics.
- 1 1. Arabian
- 2 2. American Quarter
- 3 3. Gypsy
- 4 4. Friesian
- 5 5. Thoroughbred
- 6 6. Appaloosa
- 7 7. Andalusian
- 8 8. Cleveland Bay
- 9 9. Standardbred
- 10 10. Holsteiner
- 11 11. Shire Horse
- 12 12. Marwari
- 13 13. Irish Sport Horse
- 14 14. Tennessee Walking Horse
- 15 15. American Saddlebred
- 16 16. Welsh Cob
- 17 17. Rocky Mountain Horse
Arabian horses are the oldest and most iconic breeds in the world. They have slim but strong bodies, with high tails, short backs, and sloping shoulders. They are agile and strong but have elegant gaits. Arabian horses have colors such as white, chestnut, black, bay, and gray.
2. American Quarter
American Quarters are a mix of British, Arabian, and Spanish breeds. They are the most popular horse breeds in North America. The horses are perfect for beginner and expert riders, with sure-footed ambling and calm nature. American Quarters have muscular, robust forms, with flat profiles and heavy, muscular shoulders.
Gypsy horses are British and Irish breeds that have straight faces, long “feathering” on their manes and legs, sloped shoulders, thick legs, and muscular builds. They often have dark-and-white patch patterns. The name “Gypsies” came from their popular uses as carriage horses among wandering Romani people.
Friesian horses came from the Netherlands, and they are popular as under-saddle and harness beasts. Their bodies are slightly thick, but agile and elegant. These horses often have black coats, but some have chestnut or bay colors. They have calm nature and are often used in filmmaking.
Thoroughbreds are popular horse breeds for competitive events due to their agility and hot blood. They are popular in sports such as racing, dressage, show jumping, and polo. Thoroughbreds have slim but agile bodies, short backs, short manes, and long necks.
Appaloosa breeds are famous for their unique markings, often appear as spots, patches, or blankets. They have a wide range of colors, such as gray, palomino, bay, black, chestnut, and cream. Appaloosa horses have slim and tall bodies, and they are popular for sports and filmmaking.
Andalusian is one of the purest horse breeds, famous as war horses due to their strong build, powerful gaits, high energy, and intelligence. They have muscular chests, short backs, and long necks.
8. Cleveland Bay
Cleveland Bay is a British breed famous for its bay color (brown with dark mane and tail). Cleveland Bays used to be a pack or carriage horses. Now, they are also used as under-saddle horses, such as for show jumping.
Standardbred is an American breed developed for sporting events that require more strategy than speed or strength. Standardbred horses have long but muscular bodies, powerful shoulders, and strong but refined legs. They are popular for harness race, pleasure riding, and show.
Holsteiner is a medium-sized breed from Germany famous for its jumping ability. The horses have powerful builds, with short backs, sloped shoulders, and lean but steady feet. They have more power and strength than agility or speed. However, they have a calm nature, perfect for beginners.
11. Shire Horse
Shire Horse is one of the biggest horse breeds, first developed for working. They have lean faces, muscular but short backs, wide shoulders and chests, and powerful legs. They have feathering mane and legs. They are used for pleasure riding, land ploughing, and forestry works.
Marwari is a rare breed from Marwar Region in India that has inward-shaped ears. The breed comes in all colorings. They have slim bodies, high tails, curved necks, and long faces. They are popular as safari, sport, show, and ceremonial or religious events.
13. Irish Sport Horse
Irish Sport Horse is a sport breed developed from Irish Draught (Ireland’s national horse) and Thoroughbred. The crossing created stamina, good sense, speed, and agility. Irish Sport Horse has a calm temperament, but it can be tough and lively. It is famous as a jumping horse.
14. Tennessee Walking Horse
Tennessee Walking Horses are horse breeds developed for performance. They have a unique walking style, high stamina, endurance, and calm disposition. Tennessee Walking Horses are tall and muscular, but not stocky. They are also popular for long-distance endurance riding.
15. American Saddlebred
American Saddlebred horses have elegant gait, “high” steps, slim but defined bodies, and calm demeanor. They are popular as show horses, pleasure riding, and harness race.
16. Welsh Cob
Welsh Cobs are small horses descended from Welsh native ponies. These horse breeds are often crossed with larger horses, such as Arabians. They are small and a little stocky, but strong with good temperament. Their movements are free and bold, perfect for dressage, endurance riding, and pleasure riding.
17. Rocky Mountain Horse
Rocky Mountain Horses were developed in Appalachian Mountain regions. They are strong and able to withstand harsh weather. The most prized look is chocolate color with lighter mane and tail. Rocky Mountain Horses are used in field works, endurance riding, and pleasure riding.
These popular horse breeds are not only popular but also have unique characteristics that distinguish them. This list is a perfect start for any beginner riders and breeders to choose the perfect horses.