To assist our users in selecting the right horse for them, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of horse breeds. We hope this offers great value.
This article will be continuously expanded and updated, in order to keep the list as complete as possible.
We aim to create the most exhaustive source of information on the topic available. People often ask, “what is the best horse breed?”, the truth is that it really is up to the individual.
Let’s get started.
Well known for their success in Horse racing, the thoroughbred horse is technically a specific breed, although many people use this term to refer to any pure bred horse. These tall, slim , athletic horses originated in England. Their scientific name is Equus ferus caballus. They can gallop up to 48km per hour, can weigh up to 450kg and can measure up to 1.8m at the whithers. Racing legend’s like “Secretariat ” have made this horse breed a firm favourite. According to Britannica, the breed has it’s origins in 3 specific horses, Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Barb. The breed is represented by the Thoroughbred breeders association, here in South Africa.
Want to learn more about why people love thoroughbred horses? Take a look at this video about the story of the famous ” Black Caviar”:
Originating in the Arabian peninsula, the Arabian or Arab horse is instantly recognisable by the distinctive shape of it’s head. According to Arabianhorses.org, Historical figures like Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Alexander The Great and George Washington rode Arabians. This gives them a heritage that is hard to beat amongst horse breeds. Science daily states that there is archaeological evidence of horses that resemble our modern Arabians that literally goes back 4500 years. Arabian horses can weigh up to 450kg and stand up to 15.1 hands tall. They have one less vertebra in their backs, making them stockier than other horse breeds and able to carry heavier loads.
Image via Horsyland
To learn why people breed and love this majestic and friendly horse breed, here’s a video.
The SA Boerperd.
A modern horse breed from South Africa with quite a remarkable history. Known for reliability, trainability and intelligence, these even-tempered, versatile horses have stamina and rideability that is very well suited to South African conditions. They are eager to please and are great sporting horses.
Take a look at what makes the magnificent Boerperd so special, in this video by Riana Pretorius:
These surprisingly graceful horses originate from the Netherlands, and more specifically from Friesland. Hence the name. Although they resemble draught horses, they are actually quite nimble for their size. They usually range in size from 15 to 17 hands. The breed is represented in South Africa by the Friesian horse association of South Africa.
These horses excel in the disciplines of show driving, driving, mixed competitions, dressage under saddle and also recreation. They have strong, powerful hindquarters that give them ample power and they tend to be eager to work. Friesian’s are harmoniously built and well proportioned.
South Africa has a fantastic reputation for breeding incredible Friesian horses, as shown in this interview with Marlise Botes from Pretoria at the award-winning Doorndraai Stud.
Well known for it’s colourful, spotted coat pattern, Appaloosa horses are very popular in South Africa. This versatile American horse breed is available in various body types. The scientific name is Equus ferus caballus. They were originally selectively bred by the Nez Perce people who lived near the Palouse River in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Although they are common in endurance riding competitions, they often excel in other disciplines too.
They are usually defined by their spots, however mottled skin around the eye,s muzzle and genitals can also be an identifier in animals that have a solid colour.
Appaloosa’s tend to be healthy and hearty and the lifespan is around 30 years. They are not prone to lameness. Owners should take care to protect exposed areas of the skin with equine sunblock.
The Appaloosa has a rare characteristic that is not seen in other horse breeds. ie, the white portion of the horse’s eye, called the sclera is visible. This is not common in other breeds of horses.
For a brief history of the Appaloosa take a look at this video.
These intelligent, hard-working draft horses neigh with a French accent. 😉 They originate from a valley in France known as Huisne river in the Perche region.
They’re usually Black or Grey in colour and were originally bred to be war horses. Later on, they pulled stagecoaches and were used in agriculture.
Percherons are known to get up to 18.1 hands high and have a powerful, rugged appearance. These mild-mannered horses had a very significant impact on American agriculture. They’re represented in South Africa by the Percheron breeders society.
You can learn some more about the Percheron horse breed in this video:
American quarter horse
The quarter horse as the name indicates originates in America. It is very well suited for Western disciplines such as Rodeo, Calf roping, reining, cutting and barrel racing.
Standing up to 16 hands high, they tend to have a small, short and refined head. They typically have a straight profile and a body that is strong and well muscled. They have a chest that is broad and hindquarters that are round and powerful.
There are different types of American quarter horses such as ‘stock’, ‘halter’ and ‘racing and hunter’ type. Each one has slightly distinguishing characteristics.
To learn more about these magnificent horses, here’s a video.
These athletic and versatile horses are known for their great dispositions. Hailing from Ireland, they’re large ponies that are very intelligent.
The largest display of this horse breed takes place each year at the Clifden Show in Connemara, Ireland. They’re known in Old Irish as Capaillín Chonamara.
They’re great with kids and are as a rule, hardy and tough.
Here are some great examples of Connemara ponies:
SA Sport horse
The SA sport horse is an interesting breed that is popular in South Africa. What makes it unusual, is that it is based on phenotype and not genotype. It’s essentially a mixed breed horse that conforms to certain physical characteristics. It must be supple and athletic. This horse breed is represented by the SA Sport horse federation .
The Clydesdale is one of the most magnificent horse breeds out there. Originating out of the County of Clydesdale in Scotland, these beautiful horses are not as common as they once were. They’re extremely strong and have been used over time for agriculture, driving, logging and even hauling coal. They are usually Bay in colour and have white markings that usually occur on the face, feet and legs. Clydesdales are known to grow up to 18 hands high and weigh up to 900kg.
To see these gentle giants in action, check out this video:
Originating from the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th century, these horses are also known as the ‘Pure Spanish horse”. These compact, strongly built horses have elegant, thick manes and tails. Most members of this breed are grey. They’re extremely versatile and are used in dressage, driving and show jumping. In the past, they have been used in bullfighting and also as stock horses. They have been called the ‘most noble horse in the world’. Their dramatic looks have earned them roles in various movies, particularly in the fantasy genre, such as ‘The Lord of the rings’ and ‘The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe’.
To learn more about these friendly and beautiful horses, watch this video:
The Akhal-Teke is true equine royalty. These intelligent horses are known for their speed and endurance. Their incredible metallic sheen makes them stand out from all other horse breeds and has helped make them the national emblem of Turkmenistan. They are an ancient breed of horse and it is believed that there are only roughly 6600 left worldwide. Akhal-Teke’s stand up to 16 hands high. They are natural athletes and were originally used by tribesmen for raiding. These day’s, they excel at dressage, racing, show jumping, endurance riding and eventing. The breed is represented worldwide by the International Association of Akhal-Teke Breeding (MAAK) .
You can see these Regal horses in action here: