Don’t get me wrong. All horses have a purpose but here I’ve listed 7 of the most popular breeds and their purpose. Some breeds are better suited for a specific purpose but in general most horses can do about anything if they are properly trained for it. That’s not to say I would want to use an Arabian for herding cattle although if they are trained properly they can do it. So let’s dig in and find out what different breeds are generally used for.
Let’s start with one of the most popular breeds and that’s the quarter horse. The quarter horse excels at sprinting short distances. This breed is the most popular horse breed in North America. It also ranks as one of the oldest. There are more than 5 million registered quarter horses world-wide and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is the largest breed registry in the world. One of the reasons the Quarter Horse is so popular is because of its gentle nature, versatility, beauty, speed, agility and loyalty. The breed is very popular as working cow horses because of their “cow sense”. Outside of the cattle world they are very popular in rodeos and various other arena events such as reining, cutting, team penning, and speed events (although they are being replaced by thoroughbreds in barrel racing). There are quarter horse races which are more like sprints rather than distances like thoroughbreds. This type of even remains popular in North America and there have been speeds of 55 miles per hour recorded during these short races. Because of their laid-back personality they make great beginner and family horses.
Next up we’ll dig into the Thoroughbred. My wife has one and she absolutely loves this horse. Their heart is absolutely amazing. Although there are some issues that seem to be more prominent in this breed. Canker seems to be a growing problem with all of the warm blood breeds. The thoroughbred is most widely known for their use in racing. This breed is extremely fast and they are built for speed and agility. They have huge hearts and it takes a lot to get them to give up. Ours has a number of feet issues but keeps pushing himself to get through them. In recent years this breed is becoming more and more common in the rodeo arena as barrel racers are beginning to use them more. My wife always tells me how a thoroughbred could make a great barrel horse because of the length of their stride. It’s less steps for them to go from the third barrel to the barrier. I’ve never really been into barrel racing so I can’t comment on this. Many people ask what OTTB means for horses so since we’re on the topic of thoroughbreds I’ll go ahead and tell you. The term OOTB means Off the Track Thoroughbred.
The Arabian is a very popular breed in the show world. This horse has widely distributed around the world by war and trade. They have great endurance and in many cases are used for endurance trail riding competitions. They are extremely common in arena events such as dressage, english pleasure, Jumping, etc. The horse was used in the U.S. Army for a number of years and finally was retired from service in roughly 1940. The Arabian is easily identified by the “dish” in their face and their long slender bodies. They are full of grace and have a ton of endurance and stamina. For this reason they are considered the best breed for distances.
The Tennessee Walker is loved by many riders of varying experience levels because of it’s smooth gait. It’s widely known for its’ “running walk” because of the smoothness of its movements. They have an elegant bearing and a very sensible temperament which explains their appeal. This breed was developed to provide a smooth, safe, ride for farmers traveling over rough terrain and even though they were bred to do all types of work around the farm, they are now mostly a riding horse equally prized in the show ring or train. The Tennessee Walking Horse is commonly ridden under both western and english tack. They are great for older riders and riders with back problems. They are also a favorite of a large number of beginning riders.
The Paint Horse
The Paint Horse is a very recognizable breed due to it’s flashy coloring, calm temperament, and versatility. The American Paint Horse Association (APHA) has about 110,000 members world-wide and membership keeps steadily growing. This breed is strong, fast, and agile and are ridden and driven in almost every English and Western discipline. They have representatives in almost every sport involving horses. Many people love the Paint’s distinctive color patterns which can be in any combination of white plus another color such as black, chestnut, etc. The patterns vary greatly and no two are exactly the same. A Paint horse can come in several distinct color patterns:
Tabianos exhibit a dark and white color pattern, wish solid dark over one or both flanks and white legs. The head is dark with regular facial patterns such as stars, blazes, and strips. The markings are smooth and regular. The tail and main can be two colors.
Overo is a solid color over the horse’s back. The legs are dark with regular stockings and the face is primarily white. The tail and mane are usually solid colors.
A sabino horse is mainly a solid color with white patches that have random edges. The legs are white, and the face has a number of white markings. Patches of varying sizes, from larges areas of the body to small specks.
Tovero horses are mainly white on the body, while the upper part of the head, chest, and flanks are a dark color. Some Toveros have blue eyes which create a striking appearance.
All of these coat patterns can have white hairs throughout them. This is known as roaning. Any regular coat color may combine with white and in some cases two coat colors will combine with white on the same horse. People can easily get the Paint horse and the Pinto confused. While both have similar coats, with white patches and solid color their key differences lie in their breeds. A Paint Horse (according to the APHA)
“has strict bloodline requirements and a distinctive stock-horse body type”
A Pinto horse can be a variety of breeds. The term “pinto” instead refers to the coat pattern of the horse rather than the breed.
The Appaloosa breed was originally developed by the Nez Perce tribe of the American Northwest, who used strict breeding practices to create a horse that was colorful and intelligent. The modern-day Appaloosa is an all-around versatile horse that is used for pleasure and long-distance trail riding, working cattle and rodeo events. Originally they were used for transport, hunting and battle. This is a breed that is friendly, gentle and loyal.
The Morgan is a loyal and versatile breed and among the most beloved. It is known as “the breed that chooses you” and is a beautiful breed with a strong drive to please. The original Morgan was said to have been able to out-walk, trot, or pull any horse. From the beginning this breed has been the ultimate all-purpose horse. Before cars took over the Morgan highly valued for plowing the fields and pulling the family buggy. They were used as trotting horses on the trace track and cavalry mounts during wartime. In current times the Morgan can be found competing in almost every equestrian sport from endurance riding to saddle seat show classes. They are often used in sidesaddle classes, trotting races under saddle, dressage and jumping.
So what is your favorite breed of horse and why? Let me know in the comments below.
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