Wow!  That is a good question.  There are many different breeds, including Draft Horses, Mustangs, Mini Horses, Quarter Horses, and so many more.  

How Many Breeds Of Horses Are There?

Around the world, there are around 350 nationally recognized horse breeds.  There are also 100 pony breeds.  In addition, there are approximately 1,400 different horse breeds that are not recognized by the national registries and they do not seem to be duplicates either.  The reason that some are not recognized by the national registries is that breeding is not highly regulated so it is hard to keep records.  

This is especially true when people crossbreed or mess with bloodlines.  Each day new horse breeds are developed.  This is not always bad but when it comes to genetics being passed down that probably should not be, it can be bad.  When horses are crossbred, there can be side effects.

Four Main Horse Groups

  • Light horses—these horses weigh on average 1,000-1,300 pounds.  They have small bones and thinner legs to go with their stature.  These groups include Morgans, Tennessee Walkers, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds
  • Heavy horses—these are of a workhorse stature, starting at 2,000 pounds.  They have bigger legs that are not as agile and bigger bones.  This group include Percherons, Clydesdales and other Drafts, Belgian
  • Ponies—these are less than 58 inches tall.  This group includes American Shetland, Dartmoor, Dales.

Top Ten Horse Breeds In Order

1. American Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse

This is a horse that is embraced by both professionals and beginners around the world.  It is famous for its athleticism, agility, and docility.  During the 1600s, it was bred from the Native American Chickasaw and English thoroughbred horses.  In the world, this horse has the largest breed registry.  They are shining stars in the show ring and on the trail.

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They range from 56-64 inches and weigh 950-1,200 pounds.  They have a finely chiseled head, flat profile, wide forehead, and medium-boned.

2. Arabian

Arabian

This horse has the oldest breed registry in the world, with lineage going back as far as 3000 B.C.  Every light horse breed can trace their ancestry back to the Arabian.  These horses include Morgans, Appaloosas, and Andalusians.  It is a loyal, loving breed but also rather spirited.

It also stands from 56-64 inches and weighs 800-1,000 pounds.  It has a compact, lithe body with a wedge-shaped head along with a short back with powerful hindquarters and sloping shoulders.

3. Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred

In North America, this is the most popular racing horse and is considered a “hot-blooded” horse.  This means it is known for its speed, spirit, and agility.  This multipurpose horse often has a career in equestrian competitions like jumping and dressage.  It lives its life as a companion animal.

It stands 60-68 inches tall and weighs 1,000-1,300 pounds.  It has a lean body with a deep chest and long, flat muscles.

4. Appaloosa

Appaloosa

This is a colorful, spotted horse that was developed originally for battle and hunting by the Nez Perce Native Americans.  It is thought to be a descendant of wild horses mixed with the thoroughbred, Arabian, and American quarter horse.  It is a versatile, hardy horse that is great for pleasure riding, herding, long-distance trail riding, and more.

It stands 56- 60 inches and weighs 950-1,200 pounds.  It has mottled skin with a colorful coat pattern, and striped hooves.

5. Morgan

Morgan horse

This is a popular horse breed due to its elegance and strength.  It is the official horse breed of Vermont.  The muscles of this horse were used for tilling and clearing New England farms during colonial times.  Today, it is popular for riding and driving.  Over the rough trails, it is surefooted but yet dignified in the show ring.

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It stands 56-60 inches and weighs 900-1,100 pounds.  This horse has a crested neck, expressive eyes, and small ears.

6. Warmbloods

Warmbloods

This term is used to categorize a horse’s size, origin, and temperature.  These horses have European heritage and are medium-sized.  They include the American quarter horse, Canadian, and Cleveland bay.  They have just a touch of a calm demeanor of the “cold-blooded” working horse combined with a touch of the temper you get from the “hot-blooded Arabians or thoroughbred.

7. Ponies

Ponies

Most horses that stand at 57 inches or less when they are full-grown are considered a pony.  There are two exceptions to this thought, which are the Icelandic horse and the miniature horse.  With their short stature, they are a great first horse for children.

Grade Horses

This horse has no particular breeding and is considered the mutt of the horse world.  They are different from crossbreeds.  The reason is that crossbreeds are the result of known pedigreed horses, which are intentionally bred.  This horse may not have a pedigree that is distinguished but they are just as loyal and versatile as other horses.  They also very seldom have many of the genetic diseases that are passed through purebreds.

Gaited Breeds

These horses have been selectively bred for an ambling gait or smooth ride.  They tend to go at an intermediate gate with a four-beat movement.  Some of these horses include the Kentucky mountain saddle horse, Tennessee walking horse, and the Icelandic horse.  This is the horse that is a popular choice for riders who have joint issues, older riders, and anyone that is looking for a bounce-free ride.

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Draft Breeds

These are heavy “cold-blooded” horses that are known for doing work pulling heavy loads.  Being “cold-blooded” means they have an even, gently nature.  These horses have thick manes and coats, which enable them to endure cold weather.  They are also not easily spooked.  

Conclusion

  • The wild ancestor of the domestic horse originated around 160,000 years ago in Eurasia.
  • Horses have first domesticated about 6,000 years ago.
  • All modern horses descend from two distinct lines, which are the now-extinct Turkoman horse and the Arabian horse.
  • Horses spread around the world via war, gifting, trade, theft, and more.
  • When measuring horses, one hand is equal to four inches.
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