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What Are the Different Types of Horses That Exist Today?

For centuries, horses have been our faithful companions. But did you know there are many different types of horses? There are around 2 million horse owners in the United States with a variety of horse breeds.

There is technically only one species of domestic horse with 400 different breeds. Each breed has its own personality and characteristics that make them unique. Before you run out and buy all the horse riding essentials, here is everything you need to know about different types of horses.

Main Types of Horses

There are two main types of horses – ponies and horses. Ponies are smaller than horses and are anything under 14.2 hands. Anything more than 14.2 hands is a horse.

Many horses have been bred for specific uses such as racing, hunting, or working land. Here are some of the most popular horse breeds from around the world that you can ride today.

Arabian Horses

Height: 15 hands

Weight: 450kg

Purpose: Long-distance trail riding and dressage.

Experience Level: Intermediate/Expert

The Arabian horse or Arab horse is a small horse with large eyes and a short back. They are an impressive and graceful breed with a sociable and athletic nature. The breed dates back thousands of years and experts believe it may go as far back as the 7th century.

Arabian Horses have a calm temperament compared to other similar breeds which makes them safer around children and beginner riders. They can, however, become aggressive if they are treated poorly. 

They are a hardy breed and are excellent for long-distance trail competitions. Many Arabian owners use their horses in dressage competitions but they are also used for general horse riding and working. These horses are best suited to someone with an experienced level of horsemanship as they can develop bad habits in the hands of the wrong handler.

Andalusian Horses

Height: 15.1 hands

Weight: 408kg

Purpose: Bullfighting and parading.

Experience Level: Beginner

With long, flowing manes and commanding appearance, the Andalusian horse is an intelligent and spirited breed. They are easy to train and popular with experienced horse riders. Descended from Spanish and Portuguese horses, the Andalusian’s history also spans thousands of years. 

The Andalusian breed is often used for bullfighting in Spain but is also well suited to parades, jumping, dressage, and trail riding. They are also known as the Pure Spanish Horse (PRE) and are most likely seen in gray or bay colors. 

Thoroughbred Horses

Height: 16 hands

Weight: 450kg

Purpose: Racing and polo.

Experience Level: Expert

The thoroughbred breed originated in England in the 17th and 18th centuries and is best known for its racing capabilities. According to a new genetic study, 95% of all male thoroughbred horses can trace back to one stallion. The United States is now the world’s largest producer of thoroughbred horses. 

Thoroughbreds have a successful history as polo and racing horses and have impeccable speed. They can have a spirited and sensitive temperament with a lean body, delicate head, and broad chest. Thoroughbred horses are not suitable for novice riders and should work with an experienced handler.

American Quarter Horses

Height: 14.3-16 hands

Weight: 430-544kg

Purpose: Ranch horses.

Experience Level: Beginner

American quarter horses originated in the 1660s and get their name for racing over quarter-mile courses. They were bred for their performance and speed but became less popular in the 19th century when thoroughbreds were introduced. American quarter horses became favored by cowboys during the open range era. 

The American quarter horse has a gentle and loyal nature and is easy to train. They can be brilliant racehorses, ranch horses, and family pets. Their size ranges from 14-16 hands with a variety of colors and markings.

Hanoverian Horses

Height: 15.3-17.2 hands

Weight: 650kg

Purpose: Competition horses.

Experience level: Beginner

The Hanoverian horse breed originates from Germany and is often seen in the Olympic games. They are large-framed horses with a calm nature that is favored by Olympic competitors. Hanoverians are powerful horses with sturdy limbs and a strong back. 

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