Caspian Horse Origin and Characteristics

The Caspian horse is one of the world’s oldest breeds. Its uniqueness comes partially from the fact that it was believed to have been extinct for more than 1,000 years. Rediscovered in 1965, it has been brought back from the edge of true extinction to be a thriving member of the equine family.

The Caspian is also called the Khazar Horse, which is one of the native names for the Caspian Sea in Iran.

Caspian horses have a distinctive growth pattern. Once the breed was rediscovered and a breeding program was initiated, foals were discovered to grow quickly and achieve most of their adult height in their first 6 months of life. Most adult growth involves width and strength.

Mares also tend to wait for a year or more to ovulate after foaling, which makes it difficult for formal breeding programs to establish themselves.

The History of the Caspian Horse

The Caspian horse originates from Northern Iran. Although its size would typically classify the breed as a “pony,” it is still called a horse because it has more in common with the gait, character, and conformation of a standard horse instead of a standard pony. It is believed to be one of the oldest breeds in the world today.

Louise Firouz is credited with the rediscovery of this horse breed in 1965. Iranian breeders were focusing on preserving this breed and she was part of those efforts. No records for the Caspian exist before 1965 because of this, but remains of a horse that were found at Gohar Tappeh in Iran are quite like the modern Caspian.

The remains were dated to 3400 BC, which is why the Caspian is often described as one of the world’s oldest breeds. 

Although the Romans were famous for the roads and infrastructure they built throughout their Empire, it was the Persians who were the first real road builders. They created dirt roads that were long and straight, making it possible for couriers on horseback to quickly move from community to community. They had a man and a horse in place for each day, much like the Pony Express that was famously used for a brief period in the United States.

Persians bred horses specifically for transportation purposes. They needed a breed that would be strong and fast, but with a good stamina at the same time. This is where the Caspian horse is believed to have originated.

After the 8th century, the Persian Empire was virtually eliminated from history, with warfare tearing the continents apart. With no records and no evidence outside of Northern Iran that these horses existed, global equine scholars believed that the breed had gone extinct. 

Today, these horses now thrive between the Elburz Mountains and the Caspian Sea.

Although Firouz passed away in 2008, she was able to see her work take over the equine world. In 1972, a Caspian stallion and mare were given to Prince Philip by the Shah of Iran, who would then assist in importing more Caspians to establish a breeding program in the UK. The Caspian Horse Society of the UK would be formed in 1975, with an international stud book being established in 1978.

The Caspian Horse Society of the Americas would form in 1994 to handle breed registries on the other side of the world. This is Firouz’s legacy.

Characteristics Found in the Caspian Horse

Caspian horses are relatively small compared to other breeds. They have characteristics that are like miniature breeds, but have the length and proportions that are comparable to taller horses. Most horses are shorter than 11 hands, with some being smaller than 10 hands. A few stallions within the breed can sometimes exceed 12 hands high.

Based on the growth patterns of foals within this breed, some believe that the true height of the Caspian was historically around 9 hands high. It is believed that as the modern Caspian is bred to emphasize its natural conformation, it may begin returning to this smaller size.

Most Caspian horses are either black, bay, or grey. Dun and chestnut coats are also possible. White markings are somewhat common, especially along the legs and the head.

Horses that are bred outside of Iran tend to be a little taller than those inside its native nation. This is believed to be due to better feeding conditions that exist outside the borders of Iran. Although global Caspians may be a little taller, all horses from this breed have a fine head that is shorter, but with a pronounced forehead, and short ears. Their eyes seem larger in proportion to their head than other horse breeds.

The nostrils of the Caspian are large, but the muzzle is somewhat small. They have shoulders that slope, strong withers, and a tail that is set relatively high. They are horses that are intelligent, willing, and extremely kind. They are also very loyal and perform well when working with children.

Even stallions can be ridden by children. It is a spirited breed, but that spirit is controlled and displayed appropriately.

What stands out the most about the Caspian horse is the strength of its legs and hooves. The hooves of this breed are so strong that most never need to be shoed. They prefer ground that isn’t stony and prefer a consistent working schedule. This combination creates a breed that has an incredible ability to jump. 

There are some additional anomalies that seem to be unique to this specific breed. An extra tooth on each side of the upper molar tends to be present and the first 6 thoracic vertebrae tend to be comparatively longer for their size compared to other breeds. Their frog is less pronounced and the hoof has more of a narrow, oval shape to it.

At this current time, the Caspian horse is not believed to be in danger of extinction. The status of the breed is still quite rare outside of Iran, however, with only a few exports making their way to the UK, US, Australia, and New Zealand. Political turmoil within the region may still threaten a majority of this breed’s population, but with its establishment as a global breed in the last 20 years, there seems to be nothing that can hold this horse back any more.

Canadian Horse Origin and Characteristics

If one were to ask the average person what breed of horse they thought was one of the most influential in the history of North America, the chances would be slim-to-none that the Canadian horse would be brought up in that conversation. Few people outside of the equine world know of this breed’s existence, much less its origin or characteristics.

The Canadian horse is listed as a critical breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. There are about 2,500 horses of this breed currently living, with most of them calling Canada their home.

It is a breed that has seen a recent surge in its popularity, however, and preservation programs have been implemented to ensure the continued survival of the Canadian horse. This breed has special qualities, a unique history, and it doesn’t take a horse enthusiast to recognize them.

What is the Origin of the Canadian Horse?

Like almost every breed in North America, the Canadian horse can trace its history and lineage to the colonial era. Settlers that came to settle New France and Acadia in the 17th century required work horses to create their homesteads. Those horses came from foundation stock that was imported from Europe, with the first of the population arriving as early as 1616.

French horses were introduced to the region by 1665 when 22 horses, including two stallions, were sent to the colony by Louis XIV from his royal stables. Eight mares were killed on this initial voyage, but the royal stables continued to ship horses overseas to the establishing colonies.

Over the next 5 years, a herd of nearly 50 horses was present in what would become Canada. This would form the foundation of the Canadian horse.

Several different breeds were part of this import process. In the Canadian horse, you will find Friesian, Norman, and Breton genetics. Many of the horses used as foundation horses in the colonial days were of various types, including trotters, draft horses, and pacers, which would be infused into the breed foundation as well.

A complete record of the various breeds that were used to establish the Canadian horse in the 17th century does not exist. Through DNA studies, Barbs, Arabians, and Andalusians bloodlines were known to be added at some point to this breed after the days of its earliest establishment. 

The horses would then be leased to religious groups or qualifying farmers. Payment could be made directly or through the exchange of a foal. The early horses would remain the property of the king of France for a minimum of 3 years. This helped the colony be able to sustain itself.

Once the breed was formalized by the end of the 18th century, no other bloodlines were infused into the Canadian horse. Breeders were working toward a horse that was more refined, a bit lighter, and had the characteristics of a pure breed. This would allow them to have the hard-working horse that had the stamina and strength that was desired from the first days of the colonies being formed in Canada. 

As the breed became more popular, owners began to experiment with their horses to see their full capabilities. For those in Quebec, that meant taking their horses out for races. The events became so popular that they had to be moved to prevent interference from those who were going to church. They would race along the frozen St. Lawrence River and some would go to influence other North American breeds, such as the Saddlebred.

When the population for this breed began to decline, it would be the owners and breeders in Quebec that would help to preserve the Canadian horse. Today, the Canadian horse is formally recognized as being the national breed and has been an official animal symbol for the country sine 2002.

What Are the Characteristics of the Canadian Horse?

The Canadian horse is one of the most versatile breeds in the equine world today. It offers a variety of traits and gaits that allow it to adapt to virtually any circumstance, environmental condition, or task.

Most of the horses in this breed have a darker coat color. Brown, bay, or black is very common. Chestnut coats are possible because of a cream gene that was present in one of the foundation stallions. Gray is also possible, but considered to be extremely rare. 

The height of a Canadian horse is typically between 14-16 hands. Stallions of the breed may weigh up to 1,400 pounds, while mares are typically under 1,250 pounds.

This breed has a head that is set high, with a broad forehead, but shorter length. The neck offers a classic, curved line with a arch that is gracefully beautiful. The muscular body stands out to the eye, with definition pronounced along the chest and loins. There is a bit of a slope to the shoulders, while the tail is set high.

When one looks at a Canadian horse, the impression is that there is agility and strength present within the animal.

Most Canadian horses have a trot that is energetic, animated, and somewhat flashy. They are incredibly hardy and have a stamina to match. In many ways, this breed is the epitome of what it means for a horse to be an easy keeper.

Although they were bred as a working horse, those traits have been funneled into a good recreational horse. Canadian horses tend to be friendly, willing, and extremely intelligent. They are particularly talented when jumping and driving, finding success in virtually every type of competitive discipline.

How Threatened is the Canadian Horse?

Although the population numbers of the horse have risen above 2,500 today, the Canadian horse was on the brink of extinction in the 1970s. Between 1970-1974, there were fewer than 30 total new registrations with the breed association. The total global population for the breed was estimated to be around 400.

That would begin to change in 1987, when a team of Canadian horses won the North American Driving Championships. The existing preservation programs saw more interest from breeders who were interested in keeping the breed and that helped the population begin to take off.

About 80% of the global population for this breed resides in Canada. A majority of the other 20% resides in the United States.

Because of the low population levels, the three main types of Canadian horses have all become extinct. In the past, there was a heavy draft-type horse, a pacer-type order, and one that was called the “Frencher,” which came about from an infusion of Thoroughbred bloodlines. 

Although there is still much work to do to preserve this unique breed, Canadian horses have the stamina and strength to make it through. Their unique look and versatility makes them one of the most coveted horse breeds from North America today. 

Camargue Horse Origin and Characteristics

You’ll see these semi-feral horses in Southern France, specifically within the Camargue region. The history of this breed is somewhat unknown, though it is believed to be one of the oldest horse breeds in the world today. For several hundred years, the harsh environments of the wetlands and marshes in Camargue have worked to create a breed of horse that is incredibly hardy, has a unique agility, and a stamina that is virtually beyond compare.


Although these horses are known for roaming through the wetlands in a semi-feral state, they have been captured and tamed over the years as well. It is the traditional mount for those who are bullfighters in the region and have been used for agricultural and recreational purposes as well.

If you’ve ever seen a picture of a herd of white horses, though technically they are gray, galloping through wetlands, then this romantic image was likely the Camargue horse herds from France. It is one of the most popular images that has come out of this part of France and has been displayed on film numerous times.

The Camargue horse was exported to Italy in the 1970s. There it is called the Cavallo del Delta and is treated as an indigenous breed. About 200 horses are currently registered under this format. The current global population for the Camargue horse is believed to be several thousand. 

What Is the Origin of the Camargue Horse?

The Camargue horse is native to the Iberian Peninsula. When the Celts and Romans would make their way into the region, one of their first points of emphasis was to find the horses in the region because of their hardiness, appearance, and general willingness. Archaeological evidence points to the Camargue being in the region for more than 2,000 years.

The genetics of the Camargue is like other Iberian horses, though the closest relations tend to be those from the north. Some older breeds, such as the Jaca, are believed to have come about through ancient breeding programs that involved the Camargue.

Then, as various ruling entities came into and eventually left the region, the bloodlines of the Camargue were passed along to other breeds. Even South American horse breeds show characteristics that are consistent with the Camargue horse.

The work ethic and strength of the Camargue horse led to it being exported for specific job opportunities that were being conducted in the late 19th century. This breed was instrumental, for example, in the building of the Suez Canal. The exporting process created problems globally with the breed as the lineage was being crossbred indiscriminately because of a need to have work horses more than purebred horses.

It was a practice that would continue for nearly 100 years. It wouldn’t be until 1976 when the government of France would set specific breed standards for the Camargue horse. At the same time, the government began to register the main breeders and horses in their region. In just 2 years, a formal breed stud book would be created.

Breeding farms outside of France are uncommon. In the UK, there is just one herd. In the United States, it is almost impossible to secure a domestically-raised Camargue horse. 

The Expected Characteristics of the Camargue Horse

A Camargue horse is always gray. Their skin is black, though the coat hairs tend to be a white color when the horse reaches adulthood. When this breed is a foal, it may have a coat that trends toward a dark brown or black color, but these dark hairs typically fade and become replaced with the lighter coat over time.

Most Camargue horses are smaller than the average horse, with many standing less than 14 hands high. Although stallions can weigh up to 1,100 pounds, most within this breed weigh between 700-900 pounds.

They may be smaller in size compared to other breeds, but they are quite strong. Adult horses have the strength to carry a grown adult.

This breed is quite like the Barb from a pure appearance standpoint. They have a square-shaped body type that looks a bit heavy, but they are also quite expressive with their stance and reactions. Their eyes should be set wide and be bright, complementing a flat profile and forehead. The cheekbones look to be almost chiseled, creating a contrast that brings the eyes to the expressive ears.

Camargue horses have withers that are defined, but not in a way that is exaggerated. Their shoulders are powerful and their hindquarters are quite muscled. This creates a horse that looks to be well-proportioned, with supportive knees and firm hooves that can withstand the marshy environments of its home. The soles of the hoof are wide and large to create more stability as well.

Camargue horses may be thought of as a rugged horse, but their intelligence is incredibly high. They rely on their strength and stamina, but can learn new skills quickly and are willing workers once they adapt to less of a wild lifestyle. Three registration categories currently exist for this breed.

Although this horse typically exists in a semi-feral state, they are remarkably calm in temperament. They are easy keepers, but retain their independent spirit even if they are no longer in the wild wetlands of France. Their background has given rise to a breed with unique abilities and stamina that makes them useful for long-distance riding events.

The Camargue registry is exclusive for foals that were born or identified in the home region. They are branded before being weaned and are part of the semi-feral herd structure. A second registry features horses that are foaled and identified in Camargue, but do not come from the semi-feral herds. The third registry is for Camargue horses that are foaled and identified outside of the home region.

Terminology for the Camargue Horse

The local dialect offers several specific terms for the Camargue horse that are often used when discussing individual horses, programs, or characteristics. Here is a complete list of the terms that may be found in the description of a specific horse.

  • Cavalot: This is a horse breeding program for Camargue horses in the identified region.
  • Court: This is a Camargue yearling.
  • Doublen: This is a Camargue horse or bull that is 2 years old.
  • Ferrade: This refers to livestock branding that occurs in the Camargue region.
  • Gardian: This is a Camargue herder.
  • Gardianou: This is a Camargue herder apprentice.
  • Grignon/Grignoun: This is a stallion from the Camargue Breed.
  • Manade: This is a Camargue herd of horses, though it may also be used interchangeably with a herd of cattle in the region.
  • Quatren: This is a 4-year-old Camargue horse or bull.
  • Rosso: This is a feral horse that has a proven Camargue lineage.
  • Ternen: This is a 3-year-old Camargue horse or bull.

How the Camargue Horse is Used Today

Camargue horses are the traditional mount of herders in the southern regions of France. Herders will typically ride the horses, even today, for their livestock management duties. They have a useful “horse sense” when it comes to working with cattle from the region.

Camargue horses perform well in equitation events as well. They do well in parading events, traditional activities, and local gaming events that involve horses. 

They are also a popular tourist attraction for those who visit the Camargue region. Guided tours that take people out to the wetlands and marshes to see the horses in the wild is a major economic force for the area.

This breed has also been used for movies and shows over the years and has been portrayed in several different books. Although the 1950s was the most popular time for this breed in Hollywood, photographic opportunities for these horses are a good draw for the region. 

The Future of the Camargue Horse

Although the Camargue horse is thought to be a rare breed, its population numbers continue to rise. With strict standards in place, overseen by the French government, and global breeding programs establishing themselves, these horses will continue to have an influence on the equine world, just as they have had for potentially thousands of years.

These horses enjoy being social, but thrive in structure that is hierarchal in design. They follow the leader. You can see this when the horses run. When the lead stallion gets tired of an activity, the rest of the herd follows suit.

Assuming that conditions remain relatively constant, the Camargue will be able to thrive. Although herds living in the wild are less common today than in generations past, ranchers that work with these animals still let them run free from time to time. Whether you see them on the Rhone River or you visit a breeding farm to get to know this horse, meeting one will change your life.

That is a guarantee.

Budenny Horse Origin and Characteristics

The Budenny is a horse breed that comes from Russia. Equine populations in the country were severely depleted after the first world war, then the Russian Revolution occurred and they were completely decimated. The goal of creating the Budenny was to have a breed of horse with the stamina to withstand the challenging Russian climate, the genetics of a stock horse, and the strength and temperament to carry a rider virtually anywhere.

Many of the horses that survived the various conflicts in the early 20th century rode the Don breed. The goal of breeding to the Budenny was to create a horse that was taller, had similar movement to a Thoroughbred, and was extremely versatile. This led to the formal development of the Budenny.

Budenny horses are not common from a global perspective. Although there are a few which reside in North America, much of the population still resides in Russia.

What Is the History of the Budenny Horse?

There are several different names for this breed of horse, depending on how the name is transliterated. It may be called the Budyonny, Budennnii, Budyenny, or Budyoni in addition to the Budenny horse.

The systematic breeding of Budenny Horses began in earners in the 1920s, but uncontrolled development of the first members of this breed began in the 19th century. Local breeders, farmers, and others in the agricultural sector were breeding Thoroughbreds to Dons in an effort to create good work horses. The Dons of the time were smaller and less refined, which meant the offspring could create a horse of larger size and speed to handle the often difficult conditions that were faced. 

The overall goal of developing this breed was to create a war horse. The Russian mounted cavalry needed replacements for their losses and the mixing of local Don and imported Thoroughbred bloodlines seemed to be the answer. Even the name of the horse is based off the Red Cavalry.

Born in 1883, Marshall Semyon Budyonny commanded a large cavalry force which allowed the Bolsheviks to sweep to victory during the Russian Civil War. He formed a friendship with Stalin, which eventually brought him to his final rank. He was brave and popular, despite being the scapegoat for the mistakes of the Soviet army during the second world war.

“A tank could never replace the horse as an instrument of war,” Budyonny once famously declared. His family came from peasant roots and he’d always had a passion for horses. His work was well-noted as a breeder, so when it came time to create a Russia-specific breed for the army, it made sense to name it after him.

There were three distinct phases to the breeding program for the Budenny. The first comes from the local traditions of not interfering with herd breeding patterns for the Dons that were pastured. This had to be replaced by assigning specific stallions to assigned mares.

Young stock would then be separated from the herd of mares so that further domestication could occur. Finally, the most valuable members of the young stock group would go through training and testing to determine how they might fit within the new breeding program.

The Budenny Horse earned its distinction as a separate breed in 1948, although the first official records for the breed were published in 1934. Although no breed associations represent the Budenny globally, there is a stud book which is maintained at the Scientific Research Institute for the Horse, which is based out of Moscow. The Institute is also in charge of overseeing the breeding program for the breed at the national level.

What Are the Characteristics of the Budenny Horse?

The Budenny Horse will typically stand 15-16 hands high. Most of this breed has a coat which is a shade of Chestnut, along with some white marking along the muzzle and feet. Breeding has been quite selective for the Budenny over the last 100 years, emphasizing strong bones, a large muscle mass, and movements that are flowing, agile, and predictable.

Since the 1950s, the average size of the Budenny has grown at the withers by nearly 3 inches.

Black and bay coat colors are also possible within the breed, though less common than the chestnut coloring. All Budenny Horses have a golden sheen to their coat as well, reminiscent of the Akhal-Teke breed, which can be traced to the genetics of the Don horses.

In many ways, the Budenny could be mistaken for a Thoroughbred at a distance. The profile of the breed is virtually the same to the Thoroughbred, though the Budenny does have a sturdier appearance to it. The two breeds share a long neck, slender legs, and a head with a chiseled appearance. 

Several restrictions apply to the stud book of the Budenny, even though it is classified as being open. Arab and Trakehner bloodlines are still allowed within the breed, but there is an upper limit of 75% placed on them. Since the 1990s, the number of Thoroughbred stallions has declined by one-third. The breed has moved away from having Thoroughbred stallions being bred to Don mares as well, with preference now being to have Budenny Horses bred to others.

World War II Changed the Budenny Breed for Good

At the beginning of the breeding program, there were 5 distinct lines that were developed to support the Budenny breed. Once Germany began moving into Russia and a threat of occupation grew, the horses were moved from their breeding farms. The movement, however, did not occur fast enough.

From the original five breeding lines, two entire herds and their distinctive genetics were wiped out because of the war. Because the herds of the Budenny Farms and the First Horse Army were moved immediately and able to stay virtually intact, the breed was able to survive and be officially recognized after the war.

Once the war ended and the breed was established, mechanization threatened its existence, just like every other breed. The Red Cavalry disbanded in the 1950s as well, an acknowledgement that tanks were superior to horses on the battlefield. Except for military parades, the role of the Budenny seemed to have been eliminated.

International equestrian competition helped to bring the breed back from the threat of extinction. The skills needed for the cavalry were the same skills needed for dressage, show jumping, and racing. By the 1960s, the Budenny began growing in popularity as a sporting horse so that by the 1980s, 1 in 4 horses that were used in competition by Russian riders came from the Budenny breed.

The future of the Budenny continues to be optimistic. Exporting is being allowed, though in limited numbers, while sport horses can be imported to improve the breed when necessary. Assuming that responsible breeding practices occur, the Budenny is ready to take the global stage in the very near future.

Belgian Horse Origin and Characteristics

The Belgian horse is a draft horse, originally developed to be at home in the lush pastures of its homeland. The region is known for its ability to develop heavy horses, of which the Belgian is apart, but compared to other heavy draft horses, this breed is a bit lighter.

One can instantly recognize this breed of horse. They share the same coat color and markings, with a sorrel body, white mane, and white tail. Most Belgians have white stockings along the feet and will have white face markings as well.

Originally bred because of the need to have a strong farm horse that could also serve in the halter, this is one of the strongest breeds of horse that exists in the world today. One of the world’s largest horses, named Brooklyn Supreme, was a Belgian, standing over 19 hands at weighing 3,200 pounds. They can pull several tons of weight when working together as a driving team.

The History of the Belgian Horse

In the Middle Ages, those who fought in battle required a horse of superior stature and calm to accomplish military goals. Belgians are a direct descendent of these horses. Developed in central Europe, these heavy draft horses were developed because the climate allowed for intense agricultural opportunities.

It is believed that the Belgian comes from foundation stock provided by the Brabant. Other breeds, such as the Belgian Trekpaard, Brabancon, and Cheval de trait Beige, are all essentially the same breed. Even until the 1940s, the Brabant and the Belgian were basically the same breed. That’s when some horses were selectively bred to be heavier and thicker. 

Croplands and pastures could produce high yields, but farmers were generally not the wealthiest class. They needed a single horse oftentimes to handle the workload in the field, take the family to church, and run errands when necessary. Those needs led to the growth of the Belgian Horse and its superior levels of strength.

Belgium wasn’t the only nation which required heavier horses for agricultural work during the Middle Ages. The difference is that the larger stallions were already present in Belgium, allowing for local development of the breed and greater genetic stability. For this reason, the Belgian Horse is thought to be one of the longest-running distinct breeds that still exists in the world today.

The local government recognized the benefits of having a heavy draft horse as a local resource, so they worked with breeders to create national showing opportunities for the Belgian horse. Generous prizes, inspection committees, and subsidies for efficient breeding programs were established to encourage the breed to thrive. This led to a rapid improvement in the fixed-breed type of draft horse, so that when the 19th century came about, other governments were contacting Belgium about sending Belgian draft horses to improve their heavy draft breeds.

The American Association for Belgian Draft Horses was founded in 1887. In 1903, a Belgian was sent to the World’s Fair in St. Louis, which helped to promote the breed even further.

Like many heavy draft breeds, however, the end of World War II brought mechanization to virtually every industry sector that once relied upon this great horse. Belgian Horses became critically endangered, with a population of under 200 by the 1950s. Since then, recovery efforts have been in place and the Belgian is beginning to thrive once again.

As of today, the Belgian Horse has the largest population of draft horses in the United States.

Characteristics of the Belgian Horse

Because it is a heavy draft horse, the average Belgian is larger than many other horse breeds. Most Belgian horses stand between 16-17 hands high and will weigh more than 1 ton. Horses in North America tend to be a little smaller than European horses, while having a lighter chestnut color to the sorrel coat as well.

The build of North American and European Belgians is similar.

Belgians have been known to stand taller than 20 hands high. One of the tallest horses in the world today is named Big Jake. He’s a Belgian and stands at 20.275 hands.
What stands out about the profile of the typical Belgian is the muscling over the croup. It has massive hindquarters, a wide back, and powerful legs. Visually, a Belgian looks massive and stocky compared to most breeds, including many heavy draft horses.

Belgians have limited feathering around the hooves because of the clarity of their genetic lineage. This is one of the few heavy draft breeds that have not been drastically improved by Clydesdale or Shire bloodlines, which typically have extensive feathering. The hooves are smaller on a Belgian compared to its size against the average ratio for a horse, but it is a sure-footed animal that has a confident and powerful stride.

Although sorrel coats are the standard for the breed, there are roan colors that can be found in North American horses.

It is a cold-blooded horse, so the temperament of a Belgian is even and calm. They’re easy keepers and most prefer to be kept busy. They excel at plowing, which they still do on farms that prefer to avoid mechanization. In difficult areas where logging is required, Belgians are preferred over equipment because of their sure-footedness in difficult terrain.

Belgians have the widest and deepest set of all the draft breeds. It’s also the most compact of the draft breeds and, on average, is the most massive. 

Health Issues with the Belgian Horse

Belgian horses have a higher-than-normal rate of junctional epidermolysis bullosa, or JEB, which causes foals to lose large patches of skin and have other birth defects. Nearly 1 in 5 Belgians in North America are carriers, but almost 30% of mares are a carrier. The condition can be avoided if two carriers are not bred to one another.

In the United States, genetic testing for JEB is required as part of the registration process.

Belgian Horses are also at a higher risk of developing a condition called PDL – Chronic Progressive Lymphedema. This is a disease which causes progressive swelling, fibrosis, and hyperkeratosis in the distal limbs.

Some of this is due to the limited genetics that were in the foundation stock of the modern breed. There were three main Belgian bloodlines in the 19th century and all modern horses come from these foundations.

Belgian Horses may be patient and docile, but there is a quiet intelligence behind their eyes that is almost beyond compare. They learn skills quickly, enjoy having social encounters, and tend to be quite loyal. There make for an excellent family horse, provide help in the agricultural sectors when needed, and is growing in popularity as a riding horse.

Like many heavy draft horses, the Belgian has recovered nicely from the dangers of mechanization and has a bright future waiting ahead.

Arabian Horse Origin and Characteristics

Arabian horses are one of the most popular horse breeds in the world today. They are consistently in the Top 10 because of their appearance and versatility. You’ll find Arabians compete well in endurance competitions, do well on racetracks, and perform in show events at exceptional levels.

The trademarks of the Arabian breed include a strong skeletal structure, high intelligence, and a willingness to please. They are spirited horses that are constantly on alert. There is also a sensitivity to this breed that can make them difficult to handle for those who are not familiar with the breed.

Arabians demand respect. If they don’t receive it, then they are unlikely to offer it in return. 

What Is the Origin of the Arabian Horse?

The Arabian is believed to be one of the world’s oldest breeds. Horses that resemble the physical traits of the modern Arabian have been found through archaeological findings that have been dated to be at least 4,500 years old. Through trade, because of war, and the need for a sturdy and strong horse for agricultural work and transportation, Arabian bloodlines spread rapidly from its early days in the Middle East.

One can find Arabian bloodlines in virtually every modern breed of horse today.

What makes the Arabian genetics so highly prized is how the horse adapted to the arid climate of the Middle East. Often part of the Bedouin tribes, the Arabian grew up in the hottest deserts of the world. It developed a dark skin to help protect itself against the heat and intensity of sunlight. Its hardiness developed because of the need to sometimes go long distances with few supplies.

Its social nature developed because of how these horses were treated in the ancient days. These horses were highly prized, which meant they were commonly stolen. To prevent this from happening, many families would bring their horses into their family homes for shelter, even if that home happened to be a basic tent.

This cooperative relationship has continued until today, even though the Arabian is one of the few horse breeds that is classified as being hot-blooded.

In the past, lineage strains and subgroups were specifically defined within the lineage of each horse. These classifications still exist, but are informal now. Popular classifications include Egyptian, Russian, and Domestic. Each informal classification has its own passionate following, with the virtues of each set of physical characteristics.

What each classification offers, however, is a piece of the puzzle that completes a picture of the beneficial characteristics that the Arabian horse offers to the equine world.

The Characteristics of the Arabian Horse

Arabian horses have a skeletal structure that is different from most horse breeds. Instead of having 6 lumbar vertebrae, then tend of have 5. They also tend to have 17 pairs of ribs instead of 18. This structure doesn’t apply to all Arabians, but it is a common enough trait within the breed.

Arabians tend to have a good croup length and excellent depth at the hip This allows the Arabian to have excellent agility.

Most Arabians stand between 14.1-15.1 hands, according to information that is published by the US Equestrian Federation. Some individuals may be a little larger or smaller than this average range. Because the breed standard falls below the “pony standard” or 14.2 hands, shorter Arabians are still classified as a horse.

Arabians tend to have a greater bone density than other breeds, allowing them to look refined, but remains incredibly strong. Compared to heavier and taller breeds, the Arabian can hold its own because of its sure-footedness, short cannons, and a shorter, but broader back. This also means that Arabians can carry heavier riders compared to breeds of similar size.

What tends to attract or dissuade people from what the Arabian can provide is the temperament of the horse. There is an unusual willingness with the breed, but there is also a spirited disposition that is virtually beyond compare in the equine world. This has created a loyalty between horse and human that is difficult to find in other breeds.

It is this loyalty and even-temperament, despite the hot-blooded nature of the horse, that allows the US Equestrian Federation to allow children under the age of 18 to exhibit stallions in virtually all show-ring classifications.

Arabians learn quickly and this can be an asset or a problem, depending on the circumstances of the horse. An Arabian which picks up a bad habit will not let go of that unwanted behavior without a fight. Trying to teach an Arabian to stop an unwanted behavior can sometimes interpreted by the horse as a lack of respect, which creates a cycle that encourages more unwanted behaviors.

Arabians will not tolerate inept training practices either. They are not typically dangerous to be around should this occur, but it can make for a horse that is stubborn and won’t want to listen to your commands.

What Coat Colors Come with the Arabian Horse?

The Arabian Horse Association will register a purebred horse that comes in five common coat colors: black, gray, bay, chestnut, or roan. Chestnut, bay, and gray horses tend to be the most common.

For those with a roan coat, it is more of an expression of a sabiano or rabicano pattern instead of a true roan. DNA testing shows that the standard roan gene does not seem to exist within the Arabian lineage.

All Arabians, no matter what their coat color happens to be, will have black skin. If the horse has white markings, then the skin is a lighter color as well.

Some Arabians appear to have a “white” coat. This is usually a reflection of the gray coloring that is found within the breed. There is a dominant white lineage of Arabians thanks to a stallion that was foaled in the late 1990s. In a random mutation, a purebred Arabian had pink skin, a white coat, and dark eyes from birth.

A purebred Arabian does not have any dilution genes, so palominos, buckskins, cremellos, or dun Arabians are not actually a purebred Arabian, by definition, today. There is historical evidence to suggest that some of these colors or patterns may have existed previously, but that trait has been removed for the modern breed – except for the sabiano gene.

What Is the Health of the Arabian Horse as a Breed?

There are 6 known genetic issues which affect the Arabian breed. Two of them are always fatal, two are usually disabling, while the other two are often treatable.

The two treatable conditions are a form of juvenile equine epilepsy and guttural pouch tympany. Surgical intervention may be required in some instances to correct malformations, while ongoing medications are usually required to manage physical symptoms, but many foals with these conditions can go on to have a life that is fully useful.

Malformations in the vertebrae in the neck and the base of the skull can cause fusions and this may lead to problems with coordination or, in severe instances, a paralysis of the front or rear legs. Some foals with this condition may be unable to stand to nurse.

Cerebellar abiotrophy is a recessive disorder that may not show any symptoms for up to 6 weeks. At that point, foals may become uncoordinated, develop head tremors, or maintain a stance that is wide-legged.

The two fatal health conditions are Lavender Foal Syndrome and Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disorder. These are both recessive disorders that are fatal if they are homozygous. Foals with LFS are born with a color dilution that lightens the hair of the coat to give it a tone that almost seems purple in color. SCID can cause a foal to be born without an immune system, which causes the foal to die of an infection early in life.

Genetic testing can find some, but not all, of these conditions within Arabian horses.

How Arabian Horses Have Influenced the Equine World

The Arabian breed has an almost incomparable genetic strength. Virtually every light horse breed has Arabian bloodlines as part of its foundation. Even Thoroughbreds have Arabian lineage in their ancestry have the influences written directly into the stud books for individual horses. 
Arabians are also regularly used to strengthen current breeds when endurance, agility, or refinement needs to be added.

Horses that are one-half Arabian even qualify for their own registry, no matter what the other breed of horse may be. Some half-Arabian horses have even been approved for breeding with the registries of full-breed warm-blooded registries.

This means the Arabian is one of the most versatile breeds available to the equine world. Having it be one of the oldest is just another benefit. You’ll find these horses showcased in movies, theater, and other forms of entertainment. They excel in show jumping events, love to compete in racing events, and win at the Olympic level on a regular basis. 

When the classic lines of the Arabian are included into this versatility, along with their spirit and temperament, it is easy to see why they are consistently one of the most popular breeds of horse in the world today.

Appendix Quarter Horse Origin and Characteristics

For many breeding associations, horses that do not qualify for full registry for some reason, but do qualify because they are a member of that specific breed or another qualifying breed, can still be registered in an “appendix.” The appendix is a listing of horses that are not allowed to register for breeding rights, but may be able to do so in the future.

Within the pedigree of many Quarter Horses is a Thoroughbred bloodline. One of the most influential and popular horses in the Quarter Horse breed was named Three Bars and he was actually a Thoroughbred. Because of the definition of an Appendix Quarter Horse, it becomes possible to diversify and stabilize the genetic profile of a breed.

Appendix Quarter Horses are a little different, however, because they must meet a specific definition. To qualify for this classification, a foal must have one parent that is a purebred Thoroughbred and one parent that is a purebred Quarter Horse. An allowance is made for foals that have one parent in the appendix of the Quarter Horse stud book and the other parent is a Quarter Horse that has been granted a permanent registration number.

The Origin of the Appendix Quarter Horse

There are currently more than 4 million Quarter Horses currently registered. This includes those that are registered within the appendix.

By definition, an Appendix Quarter Horse is a first-generation offspring from a Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse or between a numbered Quarter Horse and an Appendix Quarter Horse. Thoroughbreds are allowed within the breed assuming they can meet performance standards. Then, should an Appendix horse meet specific conformational criteria and successfully race in sanctioned events, they can move out of the appendix and into the full registry.

This process allows for Thoroughbred bloodlines to continually improve the Quarter Horse breed. It also separates the appendix horses from the foundation horses that have set the standards for the Quarter Horse breed over the generations. 

Quarter Horses have been a component of American history since the late 17th century. English Thoroughbreds were imported to the colonies and then bred to local tribal horses, such as the Chickasaw. Since the “native” horses came from earlier arrivals or disposals from colonial fleets, the genetics included Arabian, Barb, and Iberian bloodlines.

Breeders noticed that the resulting combination tempered the hotblooded nature of the Thoroughbred, but retained the speed and strength of the horse. Quarter Horses got their name from their ability to run at speed over the distance of a quarter-mile. When flat racing became popular in the 19th century in the US, it was found that the Quarter Horse could outrun a Thoroughbred at that distance.

Some Quarter Horses have been found to run as fast as 55 miles per hour.

Homesteading required a steady and strong horse that had drafting characteristics as well. Many homesteaders who moved out West during the expansion era of the United States were far from wealthy. They could afford one or two horses at most, so they needed one that was versatile and durable. These characteristics were then bred into the Quarter Horse, creating the modern breed that we see today.

Many Appendix Quarter Horses share the same “sense” for working with cattle and livestock that their ancestors showed so long ago. Not only are they fast, but they compete well in rodeo events, and many are still used for ranch work in the US western states today. 

What Are the Characteristics of the Appendix Quarter Horse?

The Appendix Quarter Horse stands at 14.3 hands or higher. There is no maximum range that is currently in place for the breed in any of the associations that support these horses. Some can grow to be as tall as 17 hands, but most tend to top out at 16 hands.

Like their fully registered counterparts, Appendix Quarter Horses come with different body types. There is a racing-type horse and a stock-type horse. Stock horses tend to be a little shorter, have more muscle mass, be compact, but still have the agility that the Quarter Horse is famous for having. Racing horses tend to be a little taller, have a smoother muscle mass, and cleaner lines.

Appendix Quarter Horses that fit the racing-type profile tend to look like a modern Thoroughbred horse.

When compared to a fully registered Quarter Horse, an Appendix horse has a similar personality and the same versatility. These horses are steady, have an even disposition, and are usually easy keepers. They tend to be highly competitive, but enjoy working with others, and be social within their heard. Some may run a little “hot” in their personality, but this can be funneled into an activity, such as racing.

Virtually every color is possible within the breed. Most horses tend to follow the sorrel coloring that is dominant within the Thoroughbred, but there are black, brown, gray, buckskin, and palomino horses within the breed.

Pinto coloration is also possible, but the American Quarter Horse Association will not register horses with that coat. The American Appendix Horse Association will accept the registration, however, assuming there are Thoroughbred bloodlines present in the lineage of the horse.

How Can an Appendix Quarter Horse Become a “Full” Quarter Horse?

If a Quarter Horse is allowed to register in the appendix of the American Quarter Horse Association, then it has an opportunity to move out of the appendix and into the full registry over time. The horse earns this opportunity if it can earn at least 10 performance points within the show-ring, though halter events are excluded from points collection.

Horses in the appendix that have a speed index rating of 80 or higher on the racetrack may also qualify to move out of the appendix and into the full registry.

Breeders or owners of an appendix horse which meets those qualifications can apply for permanent papers for their Quarter Horse with the registry. The ability to qualify for the application does not guarantee that permanent status will be granted for the horse.

If the horse is permitted to move out of the appendix, its status changes. Although it may be an Appendix Quarter Horse by definition, it will be treated as a full Quarter Horse for breeding purposes. Assuming that breeding occurs with another registered Quarter Horse, the offspring would qualify for immediate registration with permanent status.

For horses that are not accepted or horses that may not have a proven lineage, the American Appendix Horse Association also contains a hardship clause. Foals can be registered with them if there is only one registered parent if the foal can meet specific performance and physical standards.

The Appendix Quarter Horse allows for all Quarter Horses to benefit from the rules of breeding so that performance, genetics, and physical traits can all be maintained or improved over time. 

Appaloosa Horse Origin and Characteristics

An Appaloosa Horse is almost instantly recognized because of its unique appearance. Many within the breed have visible spot coating. Most have coat color variations along their hindquarters and face as well, which emphasizes the spotting. 

Not every Appaloosa has this characteristic, however, but a close inspection of the horse can show that it is still from this breed. With a solid-colored Appaloosa, you can still see vertical striping on the hooves, mottled skin around the eyes, and white sclera of the eye.

Today, the Appaloosa is used for many different riding disciplines. They are particularly adept at rodeo competitions, particularly cutting, roping, and reining. Show jumping is another strength for the breed, as is endurance racing. An Appaloosa horse holds the speed record for a 4.5-furlong race as well.

Hollywood loves the looks of an Appaloosa. This breed is often used in Western show and movies and has a strong influence on modern Americana.

The Origin of the Appaloosa Horse

Appaloosa Horses have an established place in human history. Artwork that has been found in ancient European caves has depicted horses that look remarkably like the modern Appaloosa. This includes the leopard spotting that is the trademark of the breed. Chinese artwork has also reflected the trend of spotted horses throughout history.

As for the modern horse, the Appaloosa comes out of the Pacific Northwest in the United States and Southern Canada. From horses that were brought over from Europe, Native tribes and First Nations people, particularly the Nez Perce, developed the Appaloosa through specialized breeding of their tribal horses. Specific characteristics were desired and this helped to refine the breed. Records were even kept about their activities.

During the initial settlement period of Americans and Europeans into the region, the popularity of the horses was immense. An ordinary horse could be purchased for less than $20 at the time. In comparison, the Nez Perce were turning down settler offers of over $600 for a single Appaloosa horse.

In modern money, a common horse could be purchased for about $250, while the Appaloosa was selling for over $10,000. 

Initially called the Palouse horse after a river in the region, the name eventually evolved into “Appaloosa” after the events of 1877.

That was the year of the Nez Perce War. The tribes lost many of their horses during the conflict and this caused the breed to fall into a steep decline. The US Army took more than 1,000 of their horses, sold the ones that they could, and killed the rest of them. A significant feral herd was left in the region, however, and an effort in the 1930s to preserve the breed led to the founding of the Appaloosa Horse Club.

Characteristics of the Appaloosa Horse

Multiple breeds have influences the Appaloosa Horse, which means there isn’t one standard body type within the breed. They can be anywhere from 14-16 hands high, weigh as much as 1,300 pounds, or weigh as little as 900 pounds.

Because the leopard complex gene is part of the Appaloosa breed, body types can vary because of the individualized genetic profile of the horse as well. To help limit large variations in sizing, the Appaloosa Horse Club does not allow ponies or draft breeding within its registration.

Those restrictions have allowed for a somewhat average sizing standard, but there is no color standard. Base coat colors are overlain with several different possible spotting patterns. Most horses have a variable spotting pattern within this breed, which makes it difficult to create specific categories, but there are several different types of spots that have been identified within the breed.

  • Snowcap Spotting. This patterning offers a body that is solid white, but has a hip area that has a contrasting base color and a visible spotting pattern.
  • Blanket Spotting. This pattern has a dark base coat color and then a lighter area around the hips where spotting is pronounced.
  • Leopard Spotting. In most circumstances, this will be a white Appaloosa which has dark spots over their entire body. Some dark coat color horses may have white spotting over their entire body as well, but this is quite rare.
  • Few Spotting. This is a variation of the Leopard Spotting pattern, but with fewer spots. Most of the spotting tends to be focused around the neck, head, or flank.
  • Snowflake Spotting. This is a variation of the dark coat Leopard spotting. As the horse ages, the number of spots and the size of the spotting increases.
  • Marble Spotting. This is another variation of the Leopard Spotting pattern. It mixes the lighter and darker coat colors together to create a look that is reminiscent of a roan coat. There are usually darker areas around the eyes, the face, and around the hip.
  • Mottled Spotting. This is a variation of the Few Spotting pattern, which has solid-color appearance, but the skin shows the mottled appearance that is a trademark of the Appaloosa horse.
  • Blanket Marbling. This coat has the roan patterning around the hips or the croup and is usually limited to that area. Some horses may have spots within their blanket area as well.

The genetic profile also means that Appaloosas have a higher than average risk for certain genetic conditions and diseases. They are eight times more likely, for example, to develop equine recurrent uveitis, which can cause blindness. Stationary night blindness is another issue that affects the breed, especially when the leopard complex gene is present. 

Two Appaloosa Associations with Different Missions

In the early days of the Appaloosa Horse Club, there were Quarter Horses that were allowed to register as Appaloosas. This was because certain foals from Quarter Horse parentage would have what is known as a “croupout” coat. The foal would appear to be white, but have spotting or marbling that was like to the Appaloosa. These foals, which were often not allowed to register as a Quarter Horse, could be registered for breeding as an Appaloosa.
Cropouts that had pinto characteristics would help to provide the foundation of the American Paint Horse Association. 

In the 1970s, the Appaloosa Horse Club decided that allowing solid-color Appaloosas into the registry was appropriate. This caused a split within the breeding community, with some breeders deciding to form the American Appaloosa Association in 1983 so that only “characteristic” Appaloosas could be registered.

Appaloosa horses may have been imported during the Colonial Era, but the breed is one that is distinctly North American in style. With herds established as early as 1750 with selective breeding practices, it could be argued that the Appaloosa is the first true American breed of horse.

Andalusian Horse Origin and Characteristics

Andalusians are sometimes referred to as being the Pure Spanish Horse. It is a breed that originates from the Iberian Peninsula and has an ancestry that dates to ancient times. They are known for their stately appearance, with a strong, muscular appearance. Their long tails and thick manes gives the horse a look elegance as well.

There are two groups of Andalusians that are recognized today: the standard horse and the Carthusian horse. Some breeders believe that the Carthusian sub-group is a purer line of genetics for the breed, though no genetic evidence has been found to support this belief. Nevertheless, Carthusians command higher pricing and breeding priorities for many around the world today.

Competing registries have created further uncertainty within the sub-groups of the Andalusian breed, along with who rightfully owns the official studbooks, but one observation cannot be denied: Andalusians are widely regarded as one of the most beautiful horse breeds in the world.

The History of the Andalusian

Andalusians have been recognized as a breed since the 15th century. Even though there are 600+ years of history with this breed, the conformation standards have changed very little over that time. It has been a horse that was prized by royalty, craved by soldiers, and offered as gifts for diplomatic missions over the centuries.

The ancestry of the Andalusian, however, dates much further back. There have been cave paintings that have been dated to 30,000 BC that show horses being present on the Iberian Peninsula. Breeds like the Andalusian have influenced regional cultures within the region for millennia.

Evidence suggests that in ancient times, Barb and Andalusian horses were regularly bred together to improve both breeds.

The Romans used Iberian horses as war horses beginning in the 4th century BC. Early written pedigrees of lineage were kept by Carthusian monks in the 13th century, which is why the Carthusian sub-group is often treated as a “purer” form of Andalusian horse. Stud farms for breeding Andalusians were established by the monks in the 15th century in Seville, Cazalla, and Jerez.

Their stately appearance made the Andalusian the preferred horse of European royalty throughout the Middle Ages. Spain often used this breed as a tool for diplomacy, granting export rights to citizens as a form of favor. By the time the breed was officially recognized, Andalusians could be found throughout the entire Mediterranean region. Explorers were taking Andalusians over to the Americas as well.

By 1642, Andalusian horses could be found the world over. 

Despite their widespread appeal, the lineage of all modern Andalusian horses can be traced to a small herd that was bred by European religious orders in the 18th and 19th centuries. This is because an effort to improve the Andalusian with draft horse genetics failed and caused a complete dilution of the breed’s bloodlines. Only the horses selectively separated by the religious orders could restore the breed to its original status.

Because of this endangerment, the exportation of Andalusians was stopped until the late 20th century. Even today, export opportunities are limited. 

There has also been some controversy over the breed because of the two perceived lines that exist. At one time, all the horses that were accepted for registry as an Andalusian were kept in the same stud book. The stud book was separated into two books in 1966, creating a Lusitano book that was separate from the main Andalusian book. Then there are the hand-kept records of the Carthusian lines to consider with the breed as well, along with stud farm records that may not always be included with the registry records.

Primary Characteristics of the Andalusian Horse

Stallions and mares average a height of 15.5 hands high. Stallions can weigh over 1,100 pounds, while it is rare for a mare to weight more than 1,000 pounds. For an Andalusian to be registered with the Spanish government, the horse must be at least 15 hands as a stallion or 14.3 hands for a mare.

Andalusian horses have a certain elegance to them that is not found in most other breeds. This elegance is complimented by a strong build. Concave or convex profiles are discouraged within the breed. The neck of the horse should be broad and long, with withers that are defined well. The chest of an Andalusian is massive, but the back is broad and short.

The temperament of an Andalusian is generally quiet and willing. These horses are highly intelligent and tend to process information through observation. They are also one of the most sensitive horse breeds in the world today, with a strong desire for social interactions within a herd and with human handlers.

Andalusian horses demand respect. If they receive it, then they are responsive to learning opportunities. If they feel like they are not being respected, then an Andalusian can become stubborn, combative, and display other unwanted behaviors.

Carthusian horses have two specific characteristics that are often noted as evidence that they are a purer form of the breed.

  • There are warts that can be found under the tail, which is a trait that a stallion named Esclavo passed along to his offspring.
  • There are frontal bosses, sometimes called “horns,” they are found at the temple or around the ears, formed from calcium deposits.

Most coat colors can be found in all Andalusian horses. Most horses within the breed tend to be bay or gray. Only 5% of Andalusians have coloring that is chestnut, dun, black or palomino. Rare coloring, such as buckskin or pearl, are accepted and allowed within the breeding registries.

Movement is an important characteristic for the Andalusian breed. Horses that have excessive sideways movement of the legs, have a poor tempo, or do not naturally have good elevation are discouraged from being included on a breeding registry. There should be a smoothness too the forward movement, with high-stepping grace, that promotes a tempo that is elevated and extended with a good cadence. 

Superstitions with the Andalusian Horse

Certain markings and whorls that could be found on Andalusians were often preferred for superstitious reasons during the early days of the breed. Specific white markings were thought to bring either good or bad luck, depending on the size or placement of the marking. A horse with white stockings, for example, was considered to bring extremely good or really bad luck, depending on the legs marked and the type of marking present. Without stockings, the horse would be considered ill-tempered and difficult to manage. Markings on the face were considered to determine if the horse would be honest, loyal, or lazy.

Whorls within the coat would complement the superstitions that were present. Placement was important for the whorls. If the horse could not see them, then it was thought to be unlucky. Andalusians with coat whorls near the heart, but the shoulder, or along the cheeks and temples were considered the worst and many horses were let go or worse because of these markings.

On the other hand, whorls that were placed near the root of the tail were thought to be extremely good luck. It was treated as a mark of courage. Horses with two whorls in this location were highly sought because it was believed that these were the most courageous horses.

Health Issues with the Andalusian Horse

Andalusian horses have an equal risk for health conditions compared to the other horse breeds. There is a higher risk for reduced circulation through the small intestine with this breed, however, that can put some horses at risk for colic. For stallions within the breed, the risk of suffering from an inguinal hernia is up to 30 times greater than average for all horse breeds.

Andalusians also tend to suffer from laminitis as a complication to their colic when it occurs because their sensitivity creates an urge to limit mobility.

Despite the propensity for colic, there is actually a lower risk of suffering obstruction-related colic within the breed.

The Modern Andalusian Horse

Portugal and Spain may be treating Lusitano and Andalusian horses as separate breeds, but not everyone does so. It is only recently that Portugal has even closed its stud book to Spanish horses, so the offspring being produced can have mixed attributes that can make classification somewhat confusing.

Many are calling for the stud books to be reunited to end the confusion.

What can be agreed upon is the versatility of the Andalusian. They are virtually unequalled in the equine world today with the events, disciplines, and riding opportunities that they are offer. In each event or discipline, they strive to excel. The competitive nature of this horse, when supported by a rider who they respect, is virtually unprecedented when compared to other breeds.

This breed is set apart because of its talent, visual appearance, and movement. They are responsive, expressive, and offer a smooth ride. Although ownership opportunities may be limited for some, there is no denying the attraction that an Andalusian horse creates for those who love horses.

American Saddlebred Horse Origin and Characteristics

Life in the early United States was difficult for many. Great distances needed to be traveled to reach towns. Farmers and plantation owners would find themselves in the saddle for hours every day. Conflicts were forming as the colonies rebelled against the idea of taxation without representation.

A good horse was needed. The horse would need to be strong and athletic. It would require a good stamina, but still be comfortable to ride. A mild temperament and an easy gait were highly desired. This led many breeders to work with crossing several different breeds to see what could happen.

This is how the American Saddlebred eventually came about. Through selective breeding programs, imported bloodlines, and an effort to refine specific characteristics that met the demands of the early colonies and the later states, one of the most popular horse breeds to ever come out of the Americas was formed. 

What Is the History of the American Saddlebred?

In the earliest days of US history, there were two breeds of horse that were commonly imported from Britain: Hobbies and Galloways. Once they arrived in the colonies, the two breeds were often cross-bred with each other. This produced the Narragansett Pacer. Thoroughbreds were then crossed with the Narragansett Pacer to produce the breed that would become known as the American Saddlebred.

After the breed was established, Arabians, Canadian pacers, and Morgans were added to the lineage of the American Saddlebred to stabilize the bloodlines and provide genetic variability.

The first documented instance of the existence of this breed occurs in 1776. An American diplomat requested that one of these horses be gifted to Marie Antoinette by the Continental Congress.

When the Revolutionary War came to its conclusion, the breeding programs for the American Saddlebred shifted west into Kentucky. At one point in its history, this breed was referred to as the Kentucky Saddler. Refinement continued to happen up until the US Civil War, where the breed was a popular choice for an officer’s mount.

After the Civil War, a breed registry was formed. Since 1891, the popularity of the American Saddlebred has led registrations to grow rapidly. More than 250,000 horses are registered around the world today, with horses of this breed on all six permanently settled continents.

The American Saddlebred featured prominently during World War I as well. It’s demeanor on battlefields made it a popular breed the world over, but particularly in South Africa. Today, the American Saddlebred is the most popular breed in the South Africa that is not used for racing purposes. 

In the US, as the world recovered from World War II, showing the American Saddlebred became part of the Civil Rights Movement. Joe Louis began horse shows that allowed minorities to exhibit horses when the more prominent shows were placing an emphasis on racial segregation. American Saddlebred shows also grew out of the recessions and shortages in the 1970s as breeders and participants looked for ways to save money. 

What Are the Characteristics of the American Saddlebred? 

The historical influences that helped to create the American Saddlebred have created a breed that has several unique characteristics. American Saddlebreds can either be 3-gaited or 5-gaited, with most horses featuring elegant movements that are highly animated. Their hooves tend to hit the ground individually, much like a walking horse breed, so their ride tends to produce less bounce than other similar breeds.

The historical influences on this breed have also made it possible for any coat color to be found. This includes Pinto-type patterning. For registration, the horse must have an elegant appearance, have a bright expression, intelligent eyes, and a long-arching neck. Most American Saddlebreds stand at least 15 hands high, with some stallions exceeding 17 hands.

Although American Saddlebreds are known for their stature and appearance, their temperament is also quite popular in the equine world. These animals are competitive and spirited, but their interactions with others tends to be gentle and calm. They perform well in dressage and show jumping, while more competitive horses can be used for competitive driving events.

The head of the American Saddlebred should be highly refined. The jaw line appears to be chiseled and smooth, while the eyes are set apart. The ears should be both dainty and sharp, while the back is strong, but short. The tail on this breed is set high, carried proudly, and compliments the movement of the horse.

It has straight legs, feet that are well-formed, and the neck should be slightly arched to promote a look that is visually clean.

American Saddlebreds are highly intelligent horses, but they can also be somewhat sensitive. They enjoy having social interactions within a herd and with people. They are gentle and friendly, but can become agitated with prolonged periods of isolation. With the right amount of attention, this breed has a nice and even temperament, is an easy keeper, and is willing to learn new skills on a regular basis.

Health Concerns with the American Saddlebred

The American Saddlebred is often referred to as the “peacock” of the equine world. Their proud and beautiful stature immediately draws a person’s attention. This stature is often based on the sturdiness of the back of the individual horse. Over time, this has led to a recessive hereditary condition to be found in this breed that is called “lordosis.”

Lordosis, which is usually referred to as “swayback,” creates a lower or softer back on the horse than normal. Although it is known to be a recessive condition, the exact mutation which causes it has not yet been found. The skeletal malformation can affect the movement of the horse and limit its ability to ride.

American Saddlebreds can also suffer from frequent upper respiratory conditions because of their head position when competing in frequent show events. Lameness can also occur, especially in horses that are suffering from a mild swayback condition.

Competition and the American Saddlebred

The first official national-level horse show held in the United States happened in 1856 during the St. Louis Fair. American Saddlebreds were exhibited in local shows for at least 40 years before this first national horse show. The popularity of this breed continued to grow after the Civil War to the extent that World Championship shows for the breed were held beginning in 1917. 

The Grand Prize for the first World Champion was $10,000. Using a standard inflation calculator, that would be the equivalent of offering a prize of over $200,000 today. 

Three primary events are held every year for the American Saddlebred: the Lexington Junior League Horse Show, the Kentucky State Fair World’s Championship, and the American Royal. This is often referred to as the “Triple Crown” for the breed. Only six horses have won all three shows.

The American Saddlebred is a competitive, even-tempered horse that is equally comfortable in a family setting, performing ranch work, or even working on TV. That is why it is one of the world’s most popular breeds today.

American Quarter Horse Origin and Characteristics

The American Quarter Horse gets its name because of its sprinting speed. As a breed, it is the best at covering the distance of a quarter-mile during a race. Some elite horses within this breed have been documented reaching speeds that exceed 50 miles per hour.

There are 11 foundation horses that established the modern Quarter Horse bloodlines. Spanish, Arabian, and English horse breeds have all contributed to the establishment of this distinctly American breed. 

This unique speed has created an intense popularity in this breed. About 4 million American Quarter Horses are currently registered, making it the largest breed registry in the world right now. This breed is also the most popular breed in the United States for ownership today.

Although it gets its name from its speed over a specific distance, the American Quarter Horse excels in numerous performance competitions and working opportunities. They are particularly talented in rodeo events and are sought after by those who need working horses for a farm or ranch. This is because they pick up intricate skills and maneuvers rapidly, allowing for herding, roping, or barrel racing. 

Many American Quarter Horses are shown in driving and English riding disciplines.

What Is the History of the American Quarter Horse?

In the late 17th century, Thoroughbred horses were being imported to the United States from Britain. The goal was to improve colony horses so that they could perform the hard work needed in the establishment of communities. These imported horses were bred with local horses that had been brought to the continent in the century before, creating a breed that was fast, hardy, and willing.

As the speed of these horses became known, racing gained in popularity in the colonies. Even when matched against Thoroughbreds, on short and flat courses, the new horses would often win the race. These sprinters would then be included in the local Thoroughbred stud books, creating an intertwined history between the two breeds that still benefits from the association.

During the phase of westward expansion in the United States, the colonial Quarter Horse was then bred with horses taken from the feral herds that roamed the territories. These cross-bred horses had a unique sense for herding that was needed for homesteading. This trait was kept in the following generations of foals and helped to develop the modern Quarter Horse.

The primary duty of the first modern Quarter Horses was to work the ranch. It is a duty that is still needed from this breed today. Despite mechanization, the “horse sense” of working with livestock cannot be replicated. These skills transitioned into rodeo events which are held in the current day.

Yet mechanization was a threat that could not be ignored. From the railroads to the development of the automobile, farming and ranch work was looking at machines to enhance productivity. That left many horse breed on the outside, looking in. 

That’s why in 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association was initially formed to preserve ranch horses and their pedigrees. The goal was to ensure that the qualities of this breed were not left to deteriorate over time. 

Even though this breed is formally established, the appendix has remained open to Thoroughbred horses because of the close association between the two breeds.

American Quarter Horse Characteristics

The American Quarter Horse offers a strong stamina, a powerful chest, and a refined head. There is an intelligence behind the eyes, alert ears, and a curiosity that can sometimes get an independent horse into trouble. Most horses within this breed will stand 14.2-16 hands high, but some horses can exceed 17 hands, especially if they are outside of the stock-type of build.

These horses come in virtually all colors, but what is unique about them is that the most common coat color is sorrel. Many other breeds would consider this color to be a variation of chestnut. Bay, brown, and black are common within the breed as well. Spotted patterns are discouraged within the breed, but if DNA verification proves that both parents are registered Quarter Horses, a spotted foal will be accepted as well.

With the American Quarter Horse breed, there are three specific types that are recognized.

  • Stock Type. This horse is the type that is suited for working with livestock. They have a sense for working specifically with cattle. These Quarter Horses tend to have powerful legs and hindquarters, giving them the ability to make quick movements and agile turns. They are a little taller, have a smoother gait, and a topline that is close to level.
  • Halter Type. This horse is the type that is built more for driving and strength-based competitive events. These Quarter Horses tend to be more muscular than the other types. They have a smaller head as well, wider jowls, and a muzzle that appears more chiseled. These horses may weigh 200-400 pounds more than the standard Quarter Horse as well.
  • Racing Type. This horse is bred for pure speed. They have long legs, a lean profile, and powerful muscles in the hindquarters. Many have a profile that is like that of a Thoroughbred. They are primarily trained to race distances of up to 870 yards and then top performers retire into breeding programs.

The legs of the modern American Quarter Horse are quite sturdy. They shouldn’t be coarse, while their haunches and shoulders should have supportive musculature.

Temperament for the Quarter Horse is often linked to individualized lineage. Those who have heavy Thoroughbred influences tend to feature more hotblooded than warmblooded traits. Individuals with a history of Quarter Horse parentage over 2-3 generations tend to have more warmblooded traits.

Most are equally comfortable under the saddle for competitive events, recreational riding, or general working needs.

Health Concerns with the American Quarter Horse

There are several genetic conditions that affect the American Quarter Horse breed, partially due to the establishment of the modern lineage. A stallion named Impressive, foaled in 1969, was an appendix American Quarter Horse that was allowed full registry two years later. He became a World Champion in 1974, despite carrying just 48 halter points. His status created a high demand for studding and Impressive was prolific. He sired more than 2,250 foals, with 30 becoming World Champions in their own right.

Impressive also had HYPP, or hyperkalemic periodic paralysis.

HYPP can cause substantial muscle weakness, involuntary muscle twitches, and paralysis when active. It is a dominant gene, so only one parent is required to pass it along to a foal. DNA testing is available and required by the registry. Since 2007, some horses with the genetic disposition for HYPP have been excluded from the registry. 

Any horses with Impressive in their lineage must also have their status and risks of HYPP in their paperwork. The issue with this condition is that it can cause a seizure in the horse at any time. If a rider is under saddle and the seizure occurs, it could be dangerous for all parties involved.

American Quarter Horses are also highly susceptible to Malignant hyperthermia, which alters how the body of the horse supplies oxygen, regulates body temperature, and removes carbon dioxide. If not treated immediately in an effected horse, the condition can lead to circulatory collapse. Triggers for the condition include overworking the horse or stress.

These additional conditions are somewhat common within the American Quarter Horse community as well.

  • GBED – Glycogen Branching Enzyme Deficiency.
  • EPSM – Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy.
  • HERDA – Hereditary Equine Regional Dermal Asthenia.
  • Lethal White Syndrome.

With proactive testing and immediate treatment, many of the concerns that these issues present can be managed or eliminated. For this reason, many Quarter Horse foals are tested to ensure their good health can be passed to future generations.

American Quarter Horses Continue to Grow in Popularity

Over the last two decades, the total registered global population of American Quarter Horses has grown by over 1 million individuals.

What makes this breed so popular is that it is so highly versatile. It is one of the few breeds that has managed to cement its place in the agricultural sector, despite continued advances in mechanization. If you go to the ranches of the US West, you are likely to find Quarter Horses working with livestock every day.

Their popularity is also due to their speed and agility, especially within the world of rodeo. Many world champions have come out of this breed in multiple disciplines, especially when cattle are involved in the sport. The intuition of these horses is unique and has helped homesteads to grow, ranchers to thrive, and families survive in sometimes difficult environments.

Despite their strength, stamina, and endurance, most Quarter Horses could be classified as an easy keeper. They are willing to work, love building social relationships within a herd and with humans, and enjoy competing in multiple events. 

For the quarter-mile event, you will not find a faster horse than the American Quarter Horse. They have established themselves as an integral part of US history because of their versatility and that has helped their popularity to grow throughout the world. 

American Paint Horse Origin and Characteristics

The American Paint Horse is a breed that features Pinto-type patterning with light and dark coat colors, while at the same time exhibiting the characteristics of a Western stock horse. It is a breed that was developed with Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse lineage, but with spotted versions of both breeds.

The popularity of this breed has led to its association, the American Paint Horse Association, to become one of the largest breed registries in the Americas.

What Is the History of the American Paint Horse

The history of these spotted horses in the Americas can be traced to the Colonial Era of the early 16th century. Hernando Cortes is believed to have brought at least two horses from Europe that had Pinto-type patterning. As colonies established themselves, the popularity of the breed soon made these horses the preferred riding horse of the native tribes throughout the continent.

Up until the 17th century, horses that had Paint or Pinto attributes were very popular. When it became less socially acceptable to own this type of horse, many owners shipped them over to the new colonies, where they were just released to fend for themselves. This helped to establish the feral herds that continue to roam the western United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.

The native tribes would capture the horses with the loudest color patterns and work to tame the horse. Once “domesticated,” the Paints would be used for a variety of purposes, including as a war horse. The Comanche tribe was especially fond of the Paint Horse because of its demeanor and desire to support a rider.

There was also a component of reverence within the native tribes for the Paint horses. The various shapes and patterns became powerful symbols of what the horse could do. Many tribes would add painted markings to these horses to connect with them on a spiritual level. 

Throughout the 19th century, when settlers continued to make their way to the western lands beyond the borders of the United States, the tribes would create art that reflected their victories and showed them riding these athletic horses.

Some of the Pinto-type horses that were brought over from Europe escaped or were let loose and joined with the feral herds that ran free during the 16th and 17th centuries. This helped to preserve the population of the American Paint and spread its influence throughout the various tribes. As settlers moved west, the strength and athleticism of this horse captured the hearts of homesteaders as well, making the horse become part of western society in the southwest.

Historically, a Paint horse was defined more by its appearance than its genetics. With modern DNA testing and lineage tracking, however, the American Paint has specific requirements that must be met for it to become a recognized member of this breed.

The American Paint Horse may come from a common ancestry with Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, but for several generations, they were kept separately from these breeds. Even when there was a preservation effort in 1940 to ensure stock horses could survive and have conformity with their body type, Paint horses were excluded from those efforts.

It wouldn’t be until 1965 when supporters of the spotted stock horses would come together to preserve the American Paint Horse as a separate effort.

What Are the Characteristics of the American Paint Horse?

Almost every Paint Horse has a combination of white and another coat color that is displayed in a variety of patterns. Tobiabo, Overo, Sabino, and Tovero horses can be found within this breed. Some registries even allow for solid-colored American Paint Horses if the lineage can be proven within the breed.

American Paint Horses are often referred to as “Pintos,” but there is a lineage difference between the two terms in the equine world. Pinto horses can be any breed or combination of breeds and have the spotted patterning. A Paint must have Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, or American Paint Horse parents for it to qualify.

There are no height requirements that have been published by the American Paint Horse Association, but most Paints stand between 14.2-16 hands. Most American Paints weight less than 1,500 pounds, but have good strength and stamina.

There are three basic types of American Paint Horses and each has unique physical features that help to separate it from the other two groups.

  • Stock-type American Paints feature good physical characteristics, stand taller than the other two types, and is a good all-around general purpose horse.
  • Saddle-type American Paints are a little smaller and lighter, but have more speed. Their temperament tends to be a bit calmer than the other two types as well.
  • Athletic-type Paints feature more of the Thoroughbred characteristics within their personality and build. They can be temperamental, but are also highly competitive, performing well in several different events

Although the breed has a hotblooded history built into its lineage, most American Paint Horses tend to be calm, mild-mannered, and extremely willing. In many ways, they are closer to draft horses in their personality than a sporting horse. This means most of the horses that belong to this breed are easy keepers, train well, and make for an excellent recreational horse. They are an ideal first horse or an addition to a larger herd.

American Paint Horses are also quite versatile in what they look to do for work. They can go from dressage or driving to ranch work, then finish the day off with a nice trail ride. Add in the unique coat coloration and each horse feels like it can bring individual qualities to every experience and that is one primary reason why this horse is so popular in the equine world today.

Why Are Paint Horses Paired Based on Pattern Type?

There are genetic problems that creep up with the American Paint Horse because of the patterning genes that are present within the breed. Pairing the horses based on pattern typing helps to reduce the chances of a serious genetic condition occurring. It also adds more variation to the markings that are present within the breed.

Of particular concern is the pairing of two Overo-type Paint horses. The most common type of gene for this pattern, called “frame,” has the capability of producing Lethal White Syndrome. This syndrome results in a foal that cannot survive once born because their colon does not function properly. Within a few hours after birth, the signs of colic begin to appear and the foal typically dies within a few days.

With modern breeding practices, the American Paint Horse has become a popular horse because it is helpful, friendly, and visually beautiful. Their lack of popularity in Europe turned them into one of the Americas greatest contributions to the equine world.

American Cream Draft Horse Origin and Characteristics

Draft horses developed in the United States are quite rare. Only one breed, the American Cream Draft Horse, continues to exist. It is a horse that instantly recognizable thanks to the unique coat characteristics of the breed. These horses have the champagne gene, which then works with a base coat color that is typically chestnut. It also has the amber eyes that are a trademark of the champagne gene.

Many of the horses of this breed will therefore have a cream color to them, although the champagne gene does not always display and this causes some of the horses to have a chestnut coat.

It is a recent breed as well, developed in Iowa during the early years of the 20th century. By 1944, a breed registry was formed to help encourage growth within the breed. Farming mechanization has since threatened the breed for the last several decades, even leading to the breed registry becoming inactive for some time.

Since 1982, however, the American Cream Draft Horse has been making a comeback. Although it is considered to have critical population numbers, it is believed that there are more than 1,000 horses within this breed that exist today and the numbers continue to grow. 

What Is the History of the American Cream Draft Horse

It is believed that the American Cream began after 1900, but before 1905, thanks to a foundation mare that was given the name “Old Granny.” She was purchased in 1911 at an auction and then sold to the Nelson Brothers Farm. Her cream color was passed along to most of her foals, along with her pink skin and amber eyes, and that has become the defining characteristics for the breed itself.

When the breed registry was formed, only 2% of the horses that were accepted to the breed traced their lineage outside of the family that Old Granny started.

In the next 20 years, the generations of foals within the American Cream breed that was being established maintained the color characteristics. Stallions with the cream coloring produced foals with cream coloring and local veterinarians worked with farmers to keep them as stallions to encourage breed growth.

At the time, however, Iowa only allowed stallions of official breeds to be part of a public stud service. Since the American Cream wasn’t recognized, breeding syndicates were started to continue the growth of this unique draft horse.

When the Great Depression came along, it became difficult for farmers to maintain their herds. Bankers and debtors looked at horses to pay off debts. One popular stallion at the time, named Silver Lace, was hidden in a neighbor’s barn during a collection attempt so that he wouldn’t be taken to auction and sold.

The strategy paid off. Silver Lace would become one of the most influential foundation stallions of the American Cream Draft Horse.

From the late 1950s until 1981, the registry for this breed ceased operations. There were only 200 living horses registered and population numbers were dwindling. Those who had been interested in establishing the American Creams were aging and unable to care for their horses. Families had no desire to continue with the work because of the expense, especially in the aftermath of World War II.

In 1982, three families who had preserved their American Cream lines joined together and reactivated the registry once again. It was reorganized into an official organization in 1994 and breeding programs are in place to preserve the American Cream. About 30 new horses are registered every year and up to 300 active adult breeding mares for the breed are available.

What Are the Characteristics of the American Cream Draft Horse?

Blood-typing for American Cream horses began at the same time the registry was reactivated. By 1990, the gene marker data proved that the American Cream is a distinct group with the draft horse classification. Registrations and records that date back to Old Granny show that the breed has stayed within its own bloodlines and only minor changes occurred, most during the time of the Great Depression.

This has led to a horse breed that has a remarkable level of consistency. American Creams have a refined head that features a flat facial profile. Many of the horses will have a white stripe that moves from the forehead down to the nose, a distinctly different shade than the cream coloring along the rest of the coat. The tail and mane color typically matches this striping on the face. 

Like other draft horse breeds, their size tends to be what catches the eye first. Then their well-muscled profile, especially within the legs and hindquarters, shows the strength of this breed. Their leg proportioning is solid and as a draft breed, they are extremely sure-footed.

Unlike other draft breeds that tend to move with a somewhat clumsy appearance, the American Cream operates with a distinguished smoothness. Free and easy movements are a trademark of the breed, which has made them an attractive carriage horse.

They are somewhat small as a breed when compared to other draft horses, with both stallions and mares averaging about 16 hands. Some mares may be around 15 hands. Mares tend to weigh around 1,500 pounds, while stallions within the breed can weigh close to 2,000 pounds.

To be accepted as foundation stock, the American Cream must have pink skin, a white mane, and a white tail. Mares with darker skin may also be accepted if they have amber or hazel eyes and a white mane and tail. An appendix registry allows for purebred registrations for foals that may be too dark to meet the standards, but can assist with bloodlines to strength the genetic profile of the breed.

Like most draft breeds, the American Cream is a very calm horse. They are willing to work and prefer to be somewhat active. They are easy keepers, like to form relationships with their human counterparts, and be social with other horses.

Why Do American Cream Horses Have Coat Color Variations?

Although there is some variation within the coat color of the American Cream, the presence of the champagne gene does create consistency within the appearance of this horse. Anything that ranges from an almost pure cream to a very light chestnut is generally considered to be acceptable.

Because there have been other draft breeds used to help improve the American Cream over the years, you’ll also find that there can be white striping or speckling in the socks of some horses. Belgians, Percherons, and Shires have been involved in shoring up the foundation of this breed, so some may show light feathering around the hooves as well. 

Despite the variations, all American Cream Draft Horses will have the light mane and tail. Some may have varying colors within their tail and still be considered an acceptable horse for breeding, while others may be considered “tracking stock” and allowed breeding rights under tight regulations.

Temperament of the American Cream Draft Horse

The American Cream is a good riding horse. They are calm, gentle, and intelligent. Their size can make some beginners feel nervous about riding them, but these horses know how to take care of their people.

Like many draft horses, there is a certain sensitivity within the breed. If the horse feels like it is being ignored or isolated, it is not uncommon for the horse to draw attention to itself in some way. This may include kicking, biting, or other unwanted behaviors.

For the most part, however, this is one of the better breeds that can be a family horse. They typically work very well with children, aren’t afraid of some hard work, but can also be trained to compete in show events or pulling competitions.

One issue that does affect this breed is an autosomal recessive condition that is called JEB. It stands for “junctional epidermolysis bullosa. It is a genetic disorder that has lethal consequences. Foals that are born with JEB will lose large areas of skin and may have other birth defects or physical abnormalities. Testing is available to determine if a horse is a carrier and JEB can be avoided if two carriers do not get bred to each other.   

Will the American Cream Draft Horse Continue to Survive?

The breed registry for the American Cream has adopted regulations that allow for embryo transfers and artificial insemination so that foals produced by these methods can be registered. Horses that are registered in the appendix registry help to promote genetic diversity and allow for the population to continue moving upward in numbers as well.

The American Cream Draft Horse is one of the most unique breeds of draft horse in the world today. It is the only US survivor of a bygone era when horses were an integral part of families and our greater communities. Although the population numbers for this breed remain at critical levels, preservation programs are in place and have a proven record of success so far to ensure that breed numbers continue to increase.

Akhal-Teke Horse Origin and Characteristics

The Akhal-Teke horse is often thought of as one of the most beautiful breeds of horse that is in the equine world. It has a coat that tends to glisten in the sun, giving it an almost “metallic” appearance. It is also a recent addition to the global community, since much of the breed’s recent development occurred behind the curtains of the Soviet Union.

The Akhal-Teke is generally regarded to be a riding horse. It features a gait that is comfortable, a strong stamina, and better-than-average speed. This breed is highly intelligent, trains easily, and benefits from the development efforts that have occurred over the centuries.

History of the Akhal-Teke Breed

Although the recent history of the Akhal-Teke breed is sporadic at best, this horse could arguably be considered one of the most cultured breeds in the equine world today. Primarily developed in Turkmenistan and parts of Russia, these horses were the partners of the nomadic tribes that populated the region.

Excavations that have found the skeletal remains of horses with fine bones like the Akhal-Teke breed have been dated to 2400 BC.

They were required to travel long distances, endure difficult conditions, and be willing workers. Akhal-Teke horses were often considered to be part of the family, sometimes even being invited into the tents of their owners. Breeding focused on the needed traits for each tribe, which helped to develop the modern breed that we see today over centuries of work.

It is thought to be the only remaining pure strain of Turkmene horse that exists today. Persians, Massagets, and Parthians all have helped to influence the modern breed. The name, however, came about in the 19th century.

The geography of its region also contributed to the development of the breed. With access to the Caspian Sea, mountain barriers, and deep deserts, horses had to withstand incredibly hot temperatures, periods of deep cold, and do so on food supplies that could be meager at best.

Russian Influences Began About 5 Centuries Ago

This breed was brought to Russia in the 16th century. Called Argamaks, the horse was highly sought because of its refined, tall look and above-average strength. These traits were continually developed within Russia to create a breed with a stamina that is almost beyond compare, considering the extremes that it can successfully survive.

It has created several different breeding lines, or sub-groups, within the breed as well. The Akhal-Teke breed may have been popular in Russia, but breeding lines were maintained outside of the Soviet Union as well. The conditions within the rural Soviet Union, however, helped to continue enhancing the traits of the breed and help it become what it is today.

There were many challenges within the Soviet Union for this breed as well. Many of the stud farms were not managed well, causing several horses to be sent to slaughter inadvertently. Some family farms were forced to use their horses as livestock because of a lack of local food supplies. Breeding stock was not protected.

The conditions which led to the development of this breed are difficult to find outside of the Turkmenistan region. Private efforts are underway to protect the breed and the various sub-types that are present.

What Are the Characteristics of the Akhal-Teke Breed?

There is some debate about what type of horse the Akhal-Teke happens to be. Many describe this breed as being warmblooded. An argument could be made that it is a hotblooded horse, like Arabians and Thoroughbreds. The Akhal-Teke has historically been used to help influence the athletic characteristics of Throughbreds. Most would place the breed somewhere between being hotblooded and warmblooded.

The appearance of the Akhal-Teke is completely unique. These horses are skinny and appear thin to the point where the untrained observer may feel like the animal is undernourished. The head is chiseled and quite long, with most having a broad forehead. The ears tend to be upright and expressive, with a somewhat almond-shaped appearance.

The neck of the Akhal-Teke is set high and quite straight on the shoulders. This gives the withers a very prominent look. The chest of the horse narrow, with lean muscling that stays close to the skeletal structure of the horse. The skin is very thin to deal with hot temperatures, but the coat can be thicker to withstand colder temperatures.

Most coat colors are possible with this breed, but bay, black, and gray tend to be the most common. There are Palomino and Buckskin Akhal-Teke horses that have been registered as well. Each has the metallic sheen that overlays on top of the coat color.

The breed itself has 17 different sub-groups that are currently recognized, but most of the horses are distinguished into three basic types.

  • Type 1 horses are what is normally seen and fits the generalized description of the breed.
  • Type 2 horses tend to be somewhat smaller than the average Akhal-Teke, but has more speed than its counterparts.
  • Type 3 horses tend to be stockier and a little slower, but has a superior stamina compared to the other types.

The various sub-groups have created a wide range of physical characteristics that are associated with this breed. A typical Akhal-Teke can stand anywhere from 14.2 hands to 16 hands and meet breed expectations. The quality of individual horses is determined by the manager of the studbook, who will assign a specific class to the horse being registered.

Health Issues with the Akhal-Teke Breed

There are several genetic diseases that affect the Akhal-Teke breed because the genetic diversity of the breed is quite low. Common diseases and disorders include having hairless foals, hereditary cryptocidism, and Wobbler syndrome.

The first studbook for the breed was created in Russia in 1941, with breed associations then moving to Turkmenistan and throughout the rest of the world. What makes this breed unique is that the Russian and Turkmenistan breeding programs for the Akhal-Teke do not exclude cryptorchids from breeding like most American and European breeding programs.

Ligament disorders and osteochondritis dissecans are also commonly found within the breed.

Because the skin of this breed is remarkably thin, the horses typically need a higher level of skin care to maintain their good health. They are more susceptible to sunburns and pulmonary infections as well. Blankets and daily skin care treatments may be necessary for some horses, especially if they happen to be living in difficult climates.

The Akhal-Teke horse has more than 3,000 years of history within its story. We may not have all the pages to complete its tale, but the equine world has joined the journey with this beautifully unique horse. Its characteristics, trademark coat, and overall intelligence make it a popular breed and that popularity shows no signs of stopping soon.

Abaco Barb Horse Origin and Characteristics

The Abaco Barb Horse can trace its lineage to Spanish horses that were being bred during the late 15th century. It is a breed that is technically extinct today, though there are tissues being preserved so that cloning technologies may be able to revive it in the future. 

When this breed was surviving, the entire population lived together as a small herd within a conservation area in the Bahamas on Great Abaco Island.

The horses came from Spain to the Bahamas because of the exploration efforts that occurred during the European Colonial Era. The early explorers would bring their horses with them on the ships that crossed the Atlantic. For the Abaco Barb Horse, it is believed that some of the horses made their way to the island because of shipwrecks and pirating activities that happened in the region.

Since 2002, the Abaco Barb Horse has been recognized as its own breed by the Horse of America’s Registry. DNA testing that was performed at the turn of the 21st century showed that the lineage to Spanish Barb horses was accurate.

One of the most unique characteristics of this horse is that they only have 5 lumbar vertebrae. They also have differences to other Barbs within the first bone in their necks that is next to the skull of the horse.

History of the Abaco Barb Horse

The wild population of the Abaco Barb Horse was estimated to be over 200 in previous centuries. As development of Great Abaco Island began, the population of the breed began to decline. New roads brought challenges to this breed, including dogs coming to chase the horses instead of boars and other animals being hunted.

Wild dogs would kill the foals that were born. Hunters would mistakenly kill horses when their dogs indicated the presence of an animal. By the middle of the 20th century, only 3 horses from this breed remained. At that time, a farm in Treasure Cay intervened and gave the surviving horses refuge from their circumstances.

A forest sanctuary was also provided to the herd of nearly 4,000 acres. It was surrounded by five miles of electrified fencing and powered by a solar array. 

By 1992, the herd had managed to increase from 3 to 35 horses. A hurricane blew through the islands and drove the horses out of their preserve. Trying to live amongst the citrus plantations proved to be difficult, as the combination of chemical exposure and pasture lands that had poisonous plants to the horses caused many difficulties.

None of the mares were able to foal after 1999. Two attempts in 1998 resulted in failure. 

From that point on, the breed quickly diminished. In 2010, there were only 6 horses remaining in the herd. Three years later, only a single mare named Nunki remained inside the nature preserve that was setup to protect the breed remained. She passed away in 2015. 

What Stands Out About the Abaco Barb Horse?

Abaco Barb Horses share many traits with Spanish horses, which is why their ancestry is believed to have originated during the Colonia Era. This rare breed has tails that are set low, faces that are convex and strikingly thick, with a long tail and mane. The forehead tends to taper toward ears that are very alert and pointed.

Coat colors can vary, but are generally either bay or brown. Pinto characteristics are common with this breed as well.

The breed is somewhat stocky, with shoulders that are flat, but upright. Their feet are durable, supporting legs that are hard and slender. The hind quarters of this breed tend to be rounded. Although it is a tough and strong horse, they are somewhat small, often standing below 14 hands.

Historically, the horses of this breed weigh between 800-1,000 pounds.

What stands out about the Abaco Barb Horse, however, is the splashed white pattern that is common with the coat. The white coloring can be in the mane and tail as well, creating a unique look that is rare in the equine world.

The Personality of the Abaco Barb Horse

Barb horses are known for being very tough and resilient. The breed comes out of the heat of the Mediterranean region and the deserts of Northern Africa. This has created a breed that has an exceptional stamina and remarkable power. The Abaco Barb Horses share these characteristics with their distant cousins.

The Abaco offshoot also shares the fiery temperament that Barb horses typically possess. They work well as a light riding horse, but must be handled by someone with expertise. Beginners will struggle to get a grasp of what the horse needs and this could lead to dangerous situations. 

This made the breed useful for the agricultural work that takes place within the Bahamas. They were used for moving logs, maintaining plantations, and other generalized work during the Colonial Era. For the modern era, the horses were generally allowed to roam free.

When the horses are cared for, they tend to be easy keepers. Their fiery personality serves them well when they are living out in the wild or when taking them out for a ride, but the horses are generally friendly. Some do have the tendency to wander, but keep to a fairly stable routine that is predictable despite that trait. 

When Are the Abaco Barb Horses Coming Back?

The Bahamian Government has authorized a plan that will help to restore this unique breed of horse.

There is also hope that a single stallion remains on Great Abaco Island. Named Capella, this horse was used as the model that was created to inform the world about this unique breed of horse. His body has never been recovered, but he has not been seen in several years either. It is possible that he is still wandering the nature preserve.

When the cloning project is finalized, the best hope for survival of the breed is to pair Capella with the cloned horse from Nunki’s tissues.

There is also hope in the Cuban horses that are also believed to have come from Spanish descent. The horses of Cuba don not similar appearance to those that were in the Bahamas and DNA testing has never been officially completed on the Cuban breed. If the origins are similar, however, there is the possibility that a new lineage could be created in conjunction with the cloning efforts.

The hope is that one day, the Abaco Barb Horse will continue to tell its story to the rest of the equine world. Until that day comes, more information about this beautiful breed of horse and the 30+ years of preservation efforts undertaken to preserve the breed can be found at

9 Indian Horse Breeds

India has been a unique place of equine development for several horse breeds. The horses that have come from this nation each have unique traits, tend to have high levels of endurance, and have a distinctive look. Many that are on the list of Indian horse breeds tend to be classified as rare, endangered, or are at-risk in some other way. 

#1. Bhutia

This Indian breed of horse originates from Sikkim and Darjeeling. These northern horses are quite like breeds that come from Mongolia or Tibet. They tend to be smaller in size and prefer to live in the mountains. Most have a coat that is grey or bay in color.

Their native environment has created an inherent toughness within this breed that is difficult to find elsewhere. They adapt to changing environmental conditions quite well and are sure-footed as a breed. Bhutia horses tend to have legs that are shorter than average, but above average in strength, and this helps them with changing mountain conditions.

Most tend to be between 12-13.2 hands, though some can be a little taller. With a deep chest, a straight back and shoulders, and a well-set tail, this breed offers the classic equine look.

#2. Kathiawari

Named after the peninsula that it calls home in Western India, the Kathiawari was initially intended to be a desert war horse. Its stamina is world-class, able to handle rough terrain, hot temperatures, and long distances with a minimal amount of food or water. This breed is closely related to many of the Marwari horses that have come out of the same region.

The history of the Kathiawari horse, however, is unknown. As early as the 16th century, there were known to be indigenous horses on the peninsula where this breed happens to be. Conquerors bringing Arab horses that crossed with the local stock may have created the foundation for the breed, which was then refined locally to adapt to the local climate.

Most Kathiawari horses are bred on the peninsula still today, though there is some activity in Rajasthan and Maharashtra as well.

#3. Manipuri Pony

Although the exact origin of this breed is a matter for debate, it is an ancient breed that was developed in India. First noted in the late 16th century, the most agreed upon history of this breed is a combination of Arabian and wild horses or Tibetan ponies.

Manipuri ponies are calm under pressure and develop skills with rapid speed. This made them prized in the 17th century as war horses. Their athleticism made them become the in-demand horse for polo in the United Kingdom beginning in the 19th century. These are the tasks that are still typically asked of this breed today.

With sloping shoulders, pronounced withers, and a deeper chest, most Manipuri ponies stand 11-13 hands high. Most tend to be bay in color, but chestnut, gray and even pinto coats have been seen within this breed. Because of their shorter height, a shorter mallet must be used by polo players when riding this breed for an event.

#4. Marwari

The Marwari breed is unique because of its inwardly turned ears. Originating from the Kathiawar region, it is a horse that also has an ambling gait and a superior level of hardiness. It is believed that the Marwari has been bred since the beginning of the 12th century with strict standards of lineage.

Marwari horses have been banned from export from India since the 1930s when the breed almost disappeared completely. A combination of poor breeding practices and lack of oversight created a severe shortage in available stock. Since 2008, however, some limited visas have allowed for Marwaris to temporarily travel outside of India.

The average horse of this breed stands between 14.2-15.2 hands. Some may be as tall as 16 hands, depending on what part of India from where they originate. Gray horses tend to be the most prized in this breed, though they can be of almost any coat color. Black horses in this breed are thought to be unlucky and a representation of death. 

#5. Spiti

From Himachal Pradesh, this northern India horse is primarily a mountain-based breed. It is an endangered breed as well, though not classified as being at-risk, with an estimated 4,000 horses for its population. Part of the reason for these limited numbers are the traditional breeding methods in its home area around the Spiti River.

A group of villages will keep their mares and stallions separate from each other. One stallion is used to cover all the mares each year. A different stallion is then used the next year until a full rotation is achieved. Then the process starts over.

Although it is a mountain horse, it does not handle high altitudes well. It does, however, have a good stamina is very resilient to colder temperatures. It is often used as a pack animal, though some use Spiti horses for riding as well. 

#6. Zaniskari

This is another small breed of mountain horse that comes from northern India. It originates from the Zanskar Valley in Kargil and is quite like Spiti horses. The primary difference between this breed and the Spiti is that Zaniskari horses adapt better to higher altitudes.

This breed is not officially listed as being endangered, but it is believed that only a few hundred purebred horses make up the population. Local village needs for horses have created many indiscriminate breeding practices so that current lifestyles can be maintained. India has also tried to create more roads in the region, which has lessened the need to have a riding or work horse for many.

This breed is noticeably strong and compact for its size, which is typically 11-13.3 hands high. The body length is up to 45 inches only. Most have a grey coat, but chestnut, brown, black, and bay are also possible.

Zaniskari horses are prized as pack animals for adventures or agricultural workers who regularly travel or work at high altitudes. It’s a sure-footed breed and can handle temperatures which drop as low as -40C. Like some of the other Indian horse breeds, individual horses which are athletic and responsive tend to be used for polo as well.

#7. Chummarti

Although this horse breed is believed to have originated in the Chummarti valley of Tibet, they tend to be available in Himachal Pradesh. It is a horse that is similar to the Spiti and often used for similar purposes. Most Chummarti horses are quite small, achieving a maximum height of less than 13 hands high.

This small mountain horse loves its native Himalayas and can easily survive cold temperatures at high altitudes or a hot Summer’s day. Their bone structure is solid and they are well-muscled as a breed.

It’s also one of the few breeds in the world that has five recognized gaits. It trots on its laterals instead of its diagonals, which creates a comfortable ride. Most within this breed are trained to work as pack animals and breeding practices are based on traditional family “secrets” that are passed down each generation.

#8. Deccani

This is the horse breed that was the prized possession of Dhangar women in Indian. Located in the Deccan plateau, these horses are used as general work horses. They transport cargo, help to give tired children a ride, and provide support for working out in the field. It is a remote breed with limited numbers and some may even argue that it doesn’t deserve to be included as a full-status Indian horse breed.

For local workers or rural villages, these horses provide the strong backs for whatever pack work needs to be done. Since women and children tend to care for the younger animals that are owned by the family, the horses are used to help keep these tasks organized. They’ll even be included in the tasks of setting up a camp, carrying sick animals, and doing so under cold rains or brutally hot Summer conditions.

#9. Sikang

Although not necessarily a formal breed as of yet, the story behind the Sikang horses is quite interesting. In World War II, US forces were using animals almost as often as any other nation, despite the fact that their equipment was so mechanized. During one mission, more than 2,000 horses were led to Sikang. With 3 gorges to cross, not every horse was able to make it through the challenging trail and were abandoned by the cavalry.

Those that survived the abandonment formed into semi-feral herds that are like the Mustangs in the US West. Some were recaptured and tamed again. Their strength, stamina, and taller standing were attractive attributes, so they were cross-bred with local horses to begin the foundation of what may be a new future Indian horse breed. 

These Indian horse breeds have helped to provide a foundation for the equine world in the APAC region. Their unique strengths and strong stamina have created horses that are willing, independent, and intelligent. Some may not be formally recognized, but their contribution still stands.

3 Curly Horse Breeds

Curly horse breeds are less formalized as independent breeds, unlike their counterparts. They come in all different sizes, body types, and colors. What sets them apart from the other breeds is one specific gene. Instead of having a straight coat of hair, they have a unique curly coat that affects their mane and tail, in addition to the hair on their bodies.

Many simply refer to horses with this type of coat as a “Curly.” They may also be referred to more formally as breed type. There are three specific names that are used if referring to a specific type of Curly.

  • Bashkir Curlies
  • American Bashkir Curlies
  • North American Curly Horses

Although they are primarily known for their coat, most Curlies have a temperament that is friendly and calm. They tend to be willing when it comes to training and are highly intelligent. They also tend to have a strong stamina and are resilient to changing conditions.

Their intelligence tends to have them stop and evaluate situations before deciding to act. This makes them less susceptible in picking up negative behaviors. Most Curlies tend to have a strong work ethic, enjoy being around people, and are thought to be a very reliable horse.

What Is the Origin of the Curly Horse Breeds?

The known origin of the Curly horse breeds is a subject of debate. Because most of the horses that are Curlies tend to come from North America or Russia, it is believed that the ancestry of these horses originates from either or both of those areas.

There is artwork which appears to depict the existence of Curly horse breeds that has been dated to the 2nd century AD.

We also know through the diaries and journals of Charles Darwin that there were Curly horse breeds in South America in the 19th century.

In North America, the Sioux tribe believed that the Curly horse breeds were sacred animals. Horses with a curly coat were reserved to be used by their medicine men or their chiefs only.

There is also evidence to suggest that Curly horses could have originated on the Iberian Peninsula. Various cross-breeds from this region tend to produce foals which can have curly hair on a regular basis.

Because of the disagreements regarding the origins of this breed, it is difficult to separate the different curly horses into specific breeds. Each of the three different types that are listed as individual breeds have individual definitions that are used in the Curly horse community. That means the Curly horse breeds could all just be one breed, could be three separate breeds, or there could be more that are just not known.

It may also be possible for the Curly horse breeds to be more like the color breeds, with possible traits being passed through multiple breeds. This would potentially account for the various discrepancies being seen in the lineage of the Curly horse breeds, but there is no definitive answer. Research is ongoing to determine more about these horses and their unique coats to determine if there are genetically separate breeds that can be identified. 

Could the North American Curly Horse Be the One True Breed?

The first documented Curly horse in the United States was in the early 20th century. Rancher John Damele in Eureka, Nevada managed to catch a Mustang that had curly fur, then managed to tame it and then sell it. This success caused the Damele Ranch to focus on producing Curly horses as part of their business.

In 1932, Nevada was hit with a particularly difficult winter season. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, times were tough for everyone. By the end of that winter, the only horses that had managed to survive were the Damele Curlies and those who had purchased on from them.

Their stamina and resilience convinced the Dameles and others in the region to invest into more horses with the Curly trait. Twenty years later, another bad winter season convinced the famly to become serious Curly horse breeders. They found a stallion to serve as their foundation and have worked on creating a firmer Curly horse breed. Although not officially recognized as a stand-alone breed, the Dameles offspring are found in hundreds of different pedigress in the modern equine world. 

Are Curly Horse Breeds Hypoallergenic?

There are many claims that Curly horses are the only type of horse breed that are hypoallergenic. It is true that people who are allergic to horses tend to have reduced reactions when they are around a Curly horse. Some may not even experience a reaction. The reason why this is possible is that a protein in the hair is missing with Curly horse breeds and it is this protein that is believed to be the cause of most horse allergies.

Even when a Curly has their winter coat fully grown, the reduced allergic reactions are still present.

It is the winter coat that makes the curly hair become obvious with these horses. Although you can see the hair curl or kink in the mane and tail all year long, the longer and thicker coat of winter for these horses is quite apparent.

Most Curly horses can be separated into three basic coat types, based on the type of curl that their coat happens to have.

  • Minimal. Curly horses in this category tend to have curly hair at the fetlocks, a kinked tail and mane, and may have curled hair inside their ears. The rest of their coat may have a slight wave to it or may appear to have no curl at all.
  • Moderate. Horses in this category have curls that can be seen all over their bodies. Their mane tends to have dreadlocks form within it and even their eyelashes and guard hairs tend to have some level of curl to it.
  • Extreme. These curly horses have tight curls which form all over their body. The curls are so tight, in fact, that when a horse in this classification sheds their winter coat, they may go completely bald. The summer coat, when it does grow in, tends to have more of a wave to it, but the tail and mane may exhibit extreme curling.

There are some Curliest that will not have any curl to their coat at all, despite being the offspring of two purebred Curly horses. That is because the trait for the curly hair is carried as a heterozygous type.

The Curly horse breeds do have split manes. They tend to be left unbraided or clipped when the horses are being shown.

Most tend to have a chestnut coat, but any coat color is possible throughout the Curly horse breeds. Some have even been known to have markings that are like the Appaloosa breed. There are pinto patterns as well, along with color breed options, such as palomino or cremello.

Organizations and Registries for the Curly Horse Breeds

There are 4 recognized organizations and registries for Curly horses.

  • American Bashkir Curly Registry. When it first accepted registrations in 1971, there were just 21 horses which qualified. Now there are more than 4,000 of these horses, with most of them in North America. They have a closed stud book and are considered to be the original Curly breed registry.
  • Canadian Curly Horse Association. This association was formed in 1993 and focuses on creating community events to help people get to know the Curly horse breeds a little better. Their focus is primarily on Canada, but their outreach efforts do extend to all of North America.
  • Curly Sporthorse International. This registry was formed in 2003 to help support those who had Curly horses which were more of a sporting type. It is one of the more popular types of this horse and the focus here is to improve the breed while creating marketing opportunities to spread awareness of these horses. This registry sponsors several awards.
  • International Curly Horse Organization. This registry was formed in 2000. More than 800 horses have been registered for North America and is focused on the coat trait more than the genetics or lineage of the horse. Any horse which exhibits curly hair qualifies for registering with this organization.

Curly horse breeds excel when competition is present. They move well, have good endurance, and a heart to win. Although they are not always formally recognized as a breed, you will find them competing at high levels in dressage, show jumping, and other events.

Many Curlies have a superior patience as well, which makes them good therapy animals for those who would benefit from experiential treatment. They are a reliable mount and typically quiet and level-headed.

For those who are allergic to horses, having a Curly horse makes it possible to learn how to ride. They work well for beginners to those who are advanced handlers. Curlies are also one of the friendliest horses that you will ever meet. With their natural ambling gait and unique look, it is easy to understand why the Curly horse breeds are so highly coveted.

Tennessee Walking Horse Temperament and Personality

The Tennessee Walking Horse is best known for its unique gait. It is one of the few horse breeds in the world today that has a four-beat running walk that can be used for high speed movement. That means three hooves are always on the ground during this gate. It makes for a very smooth ride when mounted, eliminating much of the bounce that is experienced with other breeds and their gallop or fast gait.

Tennessee Walking Horses have a temperament that can be put into two different categories. The first are horses that are called “performance individuals.” The other are “flat-shod” and trained for different movements and tasks. The training that each discipline requires creates a different overall personality and temperament, but both are based on the common ground of the overall breed characteristics.

History of the Tennessee Walking Horse Temperament

This breed was developed in the late 18th century by bringing together local Pacers in Kentucky with Spanish Mustangs that were brought from Texas. The Mustangs all had the unique running walk gait, which was then brought into this new breed of horse. This allowed local farmers to work more effectively in their limestone pastures, offering a better “pace” of life.

In the early days of the breed, they were actually called “Tennessee Pacers.”

There is a certain stubbornness that is built into the temperament of the Tennessee Walking Horse. They demand to have their pacing and will resist any training that attempts to hamper it. That is why you’ll see the two general types of temperament within this breed, based on the training that it goes through.

Competition horses within this breed tend to be taught exaggerated movements to show off the unique pacing. Flat-shod horses, on the other hand, tend to emphasize the natural movements of the running walk gait. For this reason, completion Tennessee Walking Horses tend to be a little more stubborn and agitated compared to their counterparts.

Because this is a true warm-blooded breed, you’ll also see the usual traits of such lineage. These horses prefer to be active, enjoy being social, and love a good competition. They serve well as a family horse, but some individuals within the breed may find that pace of life to be a little too slow for them.

The Sensitivities of the Tennessee Walking Horse Temperament

Tennessee Walking Horses have a very sensitive personality. They enjoy companionship and love a good workout, but they also like having some time dedicated to them every day for a social encounter. Owners and handlers will find that if they don’t spend a regular amount of time with their horse to foster their relationship, their horse will begin to stop listening to directions or develop other negative habits.

When there is a strong relationship with a Tennessee Walking Horse, most will find that the individual is quite adaptable to changing circumstances. They don’t mind Western or English gear, though changing between the two regularly can cause some irritation with the horse. This breed tends to be calm and usually docile, creating a dependable experience for riders, owners, and handlers whenever they are around the horse.

The sensitivity of the breed tends to be a positive aspect of this breed’s temperament, but it can also be a challenge with some individuals. If the horse feels like the relationship isn’t being fostered, then the “hurt” that the horse feels can translate into negative behaviors over time. You could spend 3 hours per day with some Tennessee Walkers and they would feel like it isn’t enough attention, so they’d start lashing out.

You’ll see this begin by having the ears lay back or having the horse snip at you as you approach. You may also see more aggressive behaviors within the herd as the individual tries to dominate others to make sure they have the amount of human attention that they believe is necessary.

Attempting to correct these behaviors with discipline may cause them to increase. That is why there are some individuals within this breed that can be a challenge to own. For the average Tennessee Walking Horse, however, the temperament is one that is friendly, outgoing, and willing.

Soring and How It Affects the Tennessee Walking Horse Temperament

Competition horses with the Tennessee Walking Horse breed are encouraged to have exaggerated movements within their gait. Some owners and handlers, to obtain this movement, may engage in a practice that is called “soring.”

Soring is the intentional abuse of the horse to exaggerate the gait. The bottom of the foot is purposely injured so that the horse experiences pain every time they place their foot on the ground. Their reaction to the pain causes them to lift the leg higher, creating the desired gait for competition.

To create the sore, a combination of chains and caustic chemicals are typically used. Some may even shove objects between the hoof and the shoe to avoid evidence of injury when the horse is inspected for competition.

The practice of soring has been outlawed since 1970 in the United States, but the practice is difficult to regulate for many breeds. Beginning in 2017, The Tennessean reports that the USDA will begin banning the gear that is used for soring, including the chains that may be placed around the hooves and ankles of the horses.

Sometimes metal bands might be strapped across the hooves and then tightened to create the discomfort “needed” to encourage the higher gait.

The unfortunate fact in this practice is that with a little extra time, most Tennessee Walkers would love to learn the skill of the new gait on their own.

New regulations will also require inspectors to become trained, then licensed, through the USDA Inspection Service. This will take away the common tools that are still used for soring, which should hopefully create happier horses.

As one can imagine, living in a world of chronic pain will cause many negative changes to the temperament of a Tennessee Walking Horse – or any other breed, for that matter. If the horse fails to perform as expected after the soring has occurred, continued abuse may be used to “teach” skills to the horse, such as using a chainsaw bit.

The bottom line is this: soring creates negative behaviors that are often passive aggressive. Their response creates a negative spiral that usually results in something happening to the horse when it was the trust of the horse that was violated in the first place.

The Tennessee Walking Horse temperament is generally willing and docile, making it a good family breed. They may be a warm-blooded breed, but there are several personality traits that are more reflective of the larger cold-blooded breeds. They are strong, athletic, and love having attention. When they are happy, they will be playful, and this creates a fun relationship to explore for anyone who loves horses. 

Hanoverian Horse Temperament and Personality

Hanoverians are one of the oldest warm-blooded breeds that exists in the world today. They were originally bred to be a carriage horse, though there have been Thoroughbred lineages added to the breed over the years that make it a good competition horse as well. These horses are agile, athletic, and are graceful.

These traits are combined with personality traits that are more similar to cold-blooded breeds than those that are warm-blooded. The typical Hanoverian is a bold horse, but intelligent with the choices that it will make. Most are sensible with their attitudes toward humans or their herd, while having a willingness to train or work that is atypical of many warm-blooded breeds. That is why they are so popular for dressage, along with recreational riding or mounted activities.

The History of the Hanoverian Horse Temperament

Developed in Germany, there was a need to have a horse that was versatile enough for farmers with limited income or resources. With the right horse, they could have a worker who could be out in the fields plowing, yet still be able to drive the carriage if the family needed to go into the town. That is why this is one of the oldest breeds that is still actively managed in the world today.

The temperament is remarkably calm for such a warm-blooded breed and its history. It’s calmness was initially bred into the horses so that it could transition from activity to activity with ease, but in the 19th century, this calm temperament also made Hanoverans the perfect war horse in Europe.

Since the end of World War I, the breed’s temperament has evolved more into a horse that is willing and easy to train. It has transitioned from being a work horse into a performance horse. You’ll still see some attitudes that are reflective of the older days, especially when the lineage comes from a rural area, but for the most part, the Hanoverian is an athletic and strong horse breed that has some fire within its personality.

That fire, however, can be controlled effectively well when the right owner or handler comes along for each individual horse.

Personality Traits in the Hanoverian Horse Temperament

When you see a Hanoverian for the first time, what stands out are the clean and muscular lines of the breed. Once you approach the horse, you’ll notice how patient the breed tends to be with others. They tend to be somewhat docile in their interactions, but approach work, training, or a ride with a specific fierceness that few breeds can match.

They’re able to take this fierce approach to work because of how discipline most individuals are with their temperament. They keep their new traits or skills and continue to build upon them on a regular basis. Hanoverians also implement what they’ve learned with a consistency that is almost unmatched when comparing them to other warm-blooded horses.

There are negative behavior traits that can develop in certain individuals over time within this breed. For the most part, negative behaviors are the result of boredom with this horse. Hanoverians like to be active on a regular basis. If they are kept in a stall or turned out in small areas, then their energy gets the best of them and the negative traits will begin to show.

For inexperienced owners, the intelligence of this breed can also be challenging. These horses shouldn’t be left on their own to figure out new skills. They are incredibly crafty, able to figure locks, latches, and even weaknesses that may be in a fence. 

These traits also grow in Hanoverians that are kept on their own. It is a breed that is extremely social, so horses that are kept alone need to have regular human interactions to maintain their positive personality traits. Without a stall-mate and regular tending, the characteristics which are so prized within the Hanoverian horse temperament will  slowly fade away.

What to Know About the Hanoverian Breed

Hanoverians are usually patient as a breed, though there are individuals who will become stubborn and impatient at the drop of the hat. They are quick horses who think on their feet and the troublemakers within the breed use their intelligence to look for “alternative” ways to have some fun – often at your expense. 

Hanoverians are known to be practical jokers. You can tell if it was a prank or a negative behavior trait based on the body language of the horse. If your Hanoverian seems to be laughing at you, then you’ve been had. If not, you might consider changing the environment for the horse.

If you have some experience with horses, most will be able to handle the temperament of the Hanoverian breed. Most make for good riding horses.

What you need to watch for within this breed are three specific health issues.

  • Osteochondritis Dissecans
  • Osteochondrosis
  • Wobbler Syndrome

Up to 1 in 4 horses within the Hanoverian breed may experience one or more of these issues. Because of the rigorous testing which occurs within this breed, those with health issues are usually restricted from breeding so that the lineage of the breed can continue to improve. 

These health issues are more common within the Hanoverian breed than most others. The presence of one of these concerns can alter the temperament of the individual horse as well. You’ll see signs of distress develop over time, with high levels of discomfort creating a horse that will be agitated and defensive. Treating the health issues can ease the symptoms the horse experiences, which can then begin to restore the true personality of the individual.

These horses are very talented and can perform multiple tasks with relative ease, even if they have been shown limited training. They pick up jumping and general riding skills quickly and many love the challenge that a dressage competition presents. Their abilities as a breed are one of the primary reasons why this breed is such a popular one. 

Is the Hanoverian Breed Right for You?

One of the issues that owners and handlers face within the Hanoverian breed is the cross-bred genetics that are occurring right now. In an attempt to alter the health issues that this breed faces, there have been instances where negative behavior traits have become the norm. Certain individuals may even become overly aggressive as the cross-breeding temperament overwhelms the desired Hanoverian traits.

On the whole, however, the Hanoverian breed is considered to be one of the best family horses that you can find right now. They are consistently patient, have strength and energy to spare, and enough speed to create an exciting trail ride. Assuming that the breeding patterns remain as they are, with the occasional exception to the rule, the Hanoverian horse temperament is one that is highly valued and will continue to be as the years pass by.

12 Heavy Horse Breeds

Heavy horse breeds are often tied to a specific location. Certain regions of the world have specific breed preferences because of the unique environmental conditions where the horses would have been working in the past. Though heavy horse breeds are not needed for drafting purposes as often today, the regional preferences still exist.

For that reason, there are several heavy horse breeds which are unfamiliar to many. Here are some that may be more unfamiliar than the Clydesdale, Shire, or Suffolk.

#1. Italian Heavy Draft

This heavy draft horse is one of the more recent additions to this type of breed. Its developed can be traced to 1860 and has continued since by focusing on domestic Italian horses. It is a versatile breed that has helped to improve local stock, while having a horse that can be competitive in pulling and harness events.

Since the 1970s, selective breeding programs have focused more on meat production than competitive or riding preferences. The Italian Heavy Draft is considered more of a livestock animal regionally than the traditional definition of a horse.

#2. Freiberger

This heavy draft horse had its foundations established in the 17th century, but it never really had any guidelines or conformations established. It wouldn’t be until the 1800s when it would become established as a formal breed. This horse tends to be one of the smaller heavy breeds, especially with recent breeding efforts to cross Alsatian genetics into the bloodlines.

The studbook has been closed since 1997 and a better overall set of guidelines has been established. For competition purposes, Freibergers tend to excel in harness events. Some individuals with Thoroughbred bloodlines in their lineage can also compete in some racing events. 

#3. Posavac

This breed was developed in Croatia in a region that runs along the Sava River. It has often been used for pulling wagons because of its strength, though the size of the horse is somewhat diminutive. It is usually less than 15 hands and weighs about 1,200 pounds. The head and neck are short and small, but the body of this breed is very stocky and muscular. The shoulders are deep and broad. 

Like many heavy horse breeds, the temperament of the Posavac is easy-going, patient, and obedient. This horse prefers an environment where hard work is available on a regular basis.

#4. Rhenish-German Cold Blood

In the Rhineland, local farmers were struggling to work their fields. Their horses were just not powerful enough to work the heavy soils that were in the region. Seeing the heavy draft horses from other regions, the communities got together to import Shires, Suffolks, and Clydesdales to breed with their local stock.

The result would be this unique heavy draft horse. Used for farm work and pulling wagons, the aftermath of World War II almost destroyed this breed. More than 50 years of division prevented any interbreeding, which allowed three distinct sub-groups to develop. These sub-groups are now genetically distinct from one another, but still considered to be part of the same overall breed.

#5. Soviet Heavy Draft

This heavy horse breed was established in the 1940s, but its foundation was started in the late 19th century. Multiple regions were used to begin the breeding process for this horse, allowing for a wide range of genetic diversity. Belgian, Suffolks, and Percherons were used to incorporate the desired genetics for a heavy Russian horse.

This breed generally stands above 15 hands and can weigh over 1,700 pounds. Soviet Heavy Drafts have a pronounced jaw, a lean profile compared to other heavy breeds, and a back that is wide and strong.

#6. Jutland

This endangered breed has an estimated population of just 1,000. They are calm, like most cold-blooded breeds, but there is also a playful energy to them that makes Jutlands more active than most heavy breeds. Used to transport heavy goods, it was one of the best horses anyone could how for heavy draft work. Even the US Government promoted the benefits of owning this breed at the turn of the 20th century.

The actual origin of this breed is shrouded in mystery. Some believe that Jutlands came from the lineage of Viking horses that were brought to Great Britain in the 9th century. There is some belief that the origins could date back to ancient Roman horses. Most of the horses in this breed today are used for urban work or bred for horse shows. 

#7. Latvian

This is one of the few warm-blooded heavy horse breeds. Bred specifically for harness work and racing, purpose-driven breeding since the 1960s have transformed this breed into more of a sporting horse. It is a horse that is average in height, but weighs more than 1,300 pounds on average. 

Ten different breeds were used to establish the foundation of the Latvian in 1890. This included Oldenburg’s, Hanoverian, and Holsteiner horses. Some of the harness-type horses still exist, though most of the breed has transitioned to a lighter, more sporting type of horse thanks to Arabian and Thoroughbred infusions that occurred through 1970.

#8. Noriker

This Austrian heavy horse breed comes from the Alpine region. Legend has it that the breed came out of the highest mountain in Austria, called the Grossglockner. What is unique about this breed is its coat, created because of 5 different sire lines that are within the Noriker breed. Standing up to 16 hands and weighing around 1,700 pounds, the coat is dependent on the line.

It is the Elmar Line that is most distinctive. Most of the Norikers from this line are leopard spotted and have the appearance of an Appaloosa. Some of the other lines produce smaller horses, while others were created to for specific working purposes. About half of all Norikers belong to the Vulkan Line, which was established in 1887, and tends to be the heaviest of the lines.

#9. Murakoz

This is a smaller heavy horse breed that was developed in southern Hungary. Although it may not be classified as a heavy draft horse in other nations, it is the established breed of this type for Hungary. Much of the initial breeding for this horse breed occurred around the farms that hug the Mura River. Ardennes, Percheron, and Noriker lineages were brought together with native mares and a handful of stallions to establish this breed.

It does stand at 16 hands, though the weight tends to be more toward the generalized average for all horses. What is notable about this horse is that it has a high work output with extremely low care requirements. The breed matures young as well, allowing horses to begin working sooner than other draft breeds.

#10. Vladimir Heavy Draft

This horse is a strong all-around draft horse, coming out of the former Soviet Union. It is the heaviest of all the Russian breeds, with stallions weighing up to 1,700 pounds and standing above 17 hands on average. Mares average 16 hands and about 1,600 pounds. This breed has a distinguished look, with a Roman nose, supported by a face that is long and quite large.

The temperament of this horse is very calm, but it does have an active gait and a headstrong personality when it comes to work. Most of the horses are bay in color, but chestnut and black are possibilities. White markings on the legs and face are believed to be influenced by Clydesdale bloodlines.

#11. Finnish Horse

This breed is strongly muscled and dry, with solid hooves and a sturdy bone structure. It is a versatile heavy breed, though on the lighter side of this category, making it a good candidate for racing, riding, and general work needs. Early examples of this breed in Finland date back to around 1400 AD, though an official studbook was not established until 1907.

This breed stands at an average of 15 hands, though there are pony versions that are licensed and registered in a separate section of the studbook. There are two other specific breed sections in the studbook as well, with each having distinctive breeding goals. Horses can be registered in multiple sections at once.

The Finnish Horse is also one of the fastest cold-blooded horses which excel at trotting. Many are still used for harness racing.

#12. Comtois

This may be one of the oldest proven heavy horse breeds. It is believed that the Comtois was brought from Germany to France around 300 AD. Breeding programs have existed since the 6th century. They have been used for agricultural work, as war horses, and for hauling wood. The ancient Comtois was likely very different from the modern, however, because several draft horse bloodlines were bred into this breed, producing a horse with stronger legs and better footing.

These heavy horse breeds have been influenced by some of the more popular cold-blooded breeds. Some stand out with centuries of breeding. Many of these horse breeds are endangered, so action needs to be continue to preserve their history. By doing so, we’ll also be preserving our own history.