10 Most Popular Horse Breeds in the World

Posted by Allie Layos

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The world's most popular horse breeds may surprise you ... or not.

There are so many horse breeds that it would take an entire book to cover the subject. A breed for every purpose, horses come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.

Yet, despite the stiff and extensive competition, a number of breeds have become consistent favorites among equestrian circles. While we can't give you a cheat sheet for all of them, here are some of the most common.

1. Arabian

Morgue File The Arabian horse has long been a favorite the world over. Hailing from the Arabian Peninsula, this breed is easy to spot with its distinctive head shape and high, proud tail carriage.

It is thought to be one of the oldest breeds, and is known for its spirit and endurance. Arabians are used today in many disciplines, including western, saddle seat, and even dressage.

2. Quarter Horse

Quarter Horse This American breed is arguably the most popular breed in the United States, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world.

Known as the fastest breed of horse over short distances, Quarter horses are popular mounts for both trail and competition. They are often used for western pleasure riding and other western events such as barrel racing, roping and cutting, but they can also make excellent hunt seat mounts and even race horses.

3. Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred horse farms are a common sight in rural KentuckyThe Thoroughbred is best known for its use in horse racing. Developed in England in the 17th and 18th century, this breed is high spirited and known for its heart.

They make excellent sport horses, and are used as hunters and jumpers, and as mounts for dressage, polo and fox hunting.

4. Tennessee Walker

Morgue File
Flickr/Joe Haupt

The Tennessee Walker is a gaited breed of horse that was developed in the Southern United States during the 18th century for use on farms and plantations.

Its smooth gaits, such as the four-beat "running walk," make it comfortable for riding long distances, so it was the mount of choice for many Civil War generals.

In fact, it is believed that Robert E. Lee's mount, Traveler, was part Tennessee Walking Horse. Today, Tennessee Walkers are used as both show horses and pleasure mounts.

5. Morgan

Morgue File

Compact, brave and agreeable, the Morgan horse is best known for its versatility. One of the oldest breeds developed in the United States, all Morgans trace back to the foundation sire, Figure.

Small in stature but big in heart, they are used today as a riding horse and driving horses and excel in the western and saddle seat disciplines. The Morgan horse is also the state animal of Vermont.

6. Paint

Morgue FileThe American Paint Horse is a unique combination of the conformational characteristics of the western stock horse and the colors of a pinto.

While some people consider the paint a "color breed," the American Paint Horse Association considers them a true breed, as paints have a strict bloodline requirement and distinctive breed characteristics.

Like the Quarter Horse, they excel in many western disciplines and are often used as pleasure mounts.

7. Appaloosa

Morgue File Developed by the Nez Perce Native American tribe in the Pacific Northwest, Appaloosas are best known for their colorful spotted coat pattern.

They are tough, independent, hardy and sure-footed, with big bodies and sparse manes and tails. Appaloosas are often used as stock horses and pleasure mounts, and also make excellent trail horses.

8. Miniature Horse

Morgue FileThe miniature horse was developed in Europe in the 1600s. The breed's two registries have different height requirements, but the horses must fall under 34-38 inches, measured from the last hairs of the mane.

While they are extremely small, they are considered horses and not ponies. In the past, the breed has been kept as pets by nobility and used for work in coal mines. Today they are used as driving horses and sometimes even as service animals.

READ MORE12 Miniature Horses That Will Make You Feel Things

9. Warmblood

Flickr/Molly Goossens

Technically warmbloods are not a breed but a group that encompasses a number of types and breeds, including the Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, and Trakhner.

Warmbloods are characterized by open stud book policies and are known for their prowess as sport horses, excelling in jumping as well as dressage.

10. Andalusian


This Spanish breed originated in the Iberian Peninsula and was first recognized as a breed in the 15th century. It was known for its prowess as a war horse and prized by nobility.

With long, thick manes and tails, the Andalusian is strong, compact and elegant. While in the past many different coat colors were found, most present-day Andalusians are grey or bay. Today they are used for dressage, driving, saddle seat and even jumping.

The list of horse breeds is exhaustive but these 10 are the most popular. Other popular breeds include the Rocky Mountain Horse, Morgan Horse, Shetland Pony, the Gypsy Vanner horse, and the Friesian Horse.  There is a good chance that the horses you see in paddocks along the road are one of these awesome breeds!

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10 Most Popular Horse Breeds in the World