This page is a list of horse and pony breeds, and also includes terms used to describe types of horse that are not breeds but are commonly mistaken for breeds. A breed is defined generally as a viable true-breeding population, and its members are called “purebreds”. In most cases, bloodlines of horse breeds are recorded with a breed registry. However, in horses, the concept is somewhat flexible, as open stud books are created for fairly new types of horse that are not yet fully true-breeding. Registries also are considered the authority as to whether a given breed is listed as a “horse” or a “pony”. There are also a number of “color breed”, sport horse, and gaited horse registries for horses with various phenotypes or other traits, which admit any animal fitting a given set of physical characteristics, even if there is little or no evidence of the trait being a true-breeding characteristic. Other recording entities or specialty organizations may recognize horses from multiple breeds, thus, for the purposes of this article, such animals are classified as a “type” rather than a “breed”.
Horses are members of Equus ferus caballus that generally mature to be 14.2 hands (58 inches (150 cm)) or taller, but many breed registries do accept animals under this height and classify them as “horses,” as horse characteristics include factors other than height. For the purposes of this page, if a breed registry or stud book classifies the breed as a horse, it is listed here as a horse, even if some representatives are pony-sized or have some pony characteristics. Pony breeds are listed in the next section, below.
Ponies are usually classified as members of Equus caballus that mature at less than 14.2 hands. However, some pony breeds may occasionally have individuals who mature over 14.2 but retain all other breed characteristics. There are also some breeds that now frequently mature over 14.2 hands due to modern nutrition and management, yet retain the historic classification “pony.” For the purposes of this list, if a breed registry classifies the breed as a “pony,” it is listed here as such, even if some individuals have horse characteristics.
(Please note: Because of this designation by the preference of a given breed registry, most miniature horse breeds are listed as “horses,” not ponies)
There are some registries that accept horses (and sometimes ponies and mules) of almost any breed or type for registration. Color is either the only criterion for registration or the primary criterion. These are called “color breeds,” because unlike “true” horse breeds, there are few other physical requirements, nor is the stud book limited in any fashion. As a general rule, the color also does not always breed on (in some cases due to genetic impossibility), and offspring without the stated color are usually not eligible for recording with the color breed registry. The best-known color breed registries are for the following colors:
- Buckskin (horse)
- Pinto horse
- White (horse). Some of these animals are registered in the United States with the American creme and white horse registry, which was once called an “Albino” registry until it was understood that true albino does not exist in horses. (see White (horse) and Dominant white for details)
There are breeds that have color that usually breeds “true” as well as distinctive physical characteristics and a limited stud book. These horses are true breeds that have a preferred color, not color breeds, and include the Friesian horse, the Cleveland Bay, the Appaloosa, and the American Paint Horse.
Types of horse
A “type” of horse is not a breed but is simply a term used to describe a group of breeds that are similar in appearance (phenotype) or use. A type usually has no breed registry, and often encompasses several breeds. However, in some nations, particularly in Europe, there is a recording method or means of studbook selection for certain types to allow them to be licensed for breeding. Horses of a given type may be registered as one of several different recognized breeds, or a term may include horses that are of no particular pedigree but meet a certain standard of appearance or use.
- AQPS (“Autre Que Pur-Sang”), French designation for riding horses “other than Thoroughbred,” usually referring to the Anglo-Arabian, Selle Francais and other Thoroughbred crosses. There is a registry for AQPS horses in France.
- Baroque horse, includes heavily muscled, powerful, yet agile Classical dressage breeds such as the Lipizzaner, Friesian, Andalusian, and Lusitano.
- Canadian Cutting Horse – any cutting horse in Canada, most of American Quarter Horse bloodlines
- Cob (horse)
- Colonial Spanish Horse, the original Jennet-type horse brought to North America, now with a number of modern descendants with various breed names.
- Draft horse or Draught horse
- Feral horse, a horse living in the wild, but descended from once-domesticated ancestors. Most “wild” horses today are actually feral. The only true wild (never domesticated) horse in the world today is the Przewalski’s horse.
- Gaited horse, term used to describe any of a number of breeds with an intermediate speed four-beat ambling gait, including the Tennessee Walker, Paso Fino, and many others.
- Galloway, a term used in Australia to collectively refer to show horses over 14 hands but under 15 hands.
- German Warmblood or ZfDP, collective term for any of the various warmblood horses of Germany, of which some may be registered with the nation-wide German Horse Breeding Society (ZfDP).
- Grade horse, a term used to describe a horse of unknown or mixed breed parentage.
- Hack, a basic riding horse, particularly in the UK, also includes Show hack horses used in competition.
- Heavy warmblood, heavy carriage and riding horses, predecessors to the modern warmbloods, several old-style breeds still in existence today.
- Hunter, a type of jumping horse, either a show hunter or a field hunter
- Hunter pony, a show hunter or show jumping animal under 14.2 hands, may be actually of a horse or pony breed, height determines category of competition.
- Iberian horse, encompassing horse and pony breeds developed in the Iberian peninsula, including the Andalusian, Lusitano and others.
- Mountain and moorland or “M&M” is a general term which covers several breeds of pony native to the British Isles.
- New Zealand Warmblood, a developing warmblood type based on Hanoverian and KWPF breeding.
- Oriental horse, referring to the “hot-blooded” breeds descended from the Oriental prototype under the “Four Foundations” theory, below.
- Polo pony, a horse used in the sport of polo, not actually a pony, usually a full-sized horse, often a Thoroughbred.
- Riding Pony, a term used in the United Kingdom to describe certain types of show ponies.
- Sport horse or Sporthorse, includes any breeds suitable for use in assorted international competitive disciplines governed by the FEI.
- Stock horse, heavily-muscled riding horses of several different breeds, suitable for working cattle. Not to be confused with the breed Australian Stock Horse
- Warmblood, a group of Sport horse breeds developed for modern Dressage and other Olympic disciplines, including the Dutch Warmblood, Hanoverian (horse), Swedish Warmblood, Westphalian (horse), etc.
- Windsor Grey, the gray carriage horses of British Royalty.
- ZfDP, see German Warmblood, above.
Prior to approximately the 13th century, few pedigrees were written down, and horses were classified by physical type or use. Thus, many terms for Horses in the Middle Ages did not describe breeds as we know them today, but rather described appearance or purpose. These terms included:
- Charger, see Courser (horse)
- Courser (horse)
- Destrier or “Great Horse”
- Hobby, see Irish Hobby
- Jennet, sometimes called Spanish Jennet
- Steppe horse, refers to various domesticated horse and wild horse species, particularly those from Siberia and other parts of western Asia
Extinct species and breeds
These horses and ponies either were a recognized, distinct breed of horse that no longer exists as such, or varieties of Equus ferus caballus that have become extinct at some point since domestication of the horse. This section does not include any species within evolution of the horse prior to modern Equus caballus.
Before the availability of DNA techniques to resolve the questions related to the domestication of the horse, various hypothesis were proposed. One classification was based on body types and conformation, suggesting the presence of four basic prototypes that had adapted to their environment prior to domestication. More recent studies suggest that all domesticated horses originated from a single wild species and that different body types were entirely a result of selective breeding after domestication, or possibly landrace adaptation.
- The original domesticated animal has sometimes been called the “Tarpan subtype,” due to its probable external resemblance to the Tarpan, though the Tarpan that survived into modern times was a separate subspecies and not able to be domesticated.
The other prototypes are:
- The “Warmblood subspecies” or “Forest Horse” (once proposed as Equus ferus silvaticus, also called the Diluvial Horse), with a later variety once proposed as Equus ferus germanicus. This prototype may have contributed to the development of the warmblood horses of northern Europe, as well as older “heavy horses” such as the Ardennais.
- The “Draft” subspecies, a small, sturdy, heavyset animal with a heavy hair coat, arising in northern Europe, adapted to cold, damp climates, somewhat resembling today’s Fjord horse and even the Shetland pony.
- The “Oriental” subspecies, (once proposed as Equus agilis) a taller, slim, refined and agile animal arising in western Asia, adapted to hot, dry climates, thought to be the progenitor of the modern Arabian horse and Akhal-Teke.
These were human-developed breeds, now no longer in existence
(Adapted from Wikipedia)