Home Fun Facts Equine 411: The Horse Types Defined

Equine 411: The Horse Types Defined

by Modi Ramos

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Horses are truly magnificent creatures. They come in all shapes and sizes, and each has a purpose or a job to do. Fun fact for you: Did you know that there are over 350 breeds of horses and ponies all over the world? It would be impossible to remember them all. However, each of these 350+ breeds fits into a type of category. Do you know what the horse types are? We’re here to break them down for you so that you can add to your growing index of horse knowledge—in case you didn’t already know them!

what types of horses are there

A Quarter Horse

The Horse Types are as Follows….

Warmbloods, Coldbloods, and Hotbloods

These terminologies are used in relation to the horse’s temperament and the task in which they perform. 

With warmbloods, this descriptive is used to classify a medium-sized horse, and this relates to the temperament of the horse. The Cleveland Bay, Quarter Horse, and Hanoverian are a few examples of this horse type. Warmbloods are a middleweight horse which was bred by crossing a hot blood light horse and a cold blood draft horse.

what are the types of horses

Hanoverian Horse

Warmbloods excel at equestrian Olympic sports, dressage, and jumping. This particular blend of temperaments allows for the athleticism of the hot blooded Arabian or Thoroughbred while matched with the calm demeanor of a working horse which is “cold-blooded.”

Your hotbloods are descendants of the Arabian horses. These horses are incredibly fast and are bred specifically for speed and agility. They have thin skin, long, lean legs and elegant frames.

types of horses

Arabian Horse

Warmbloods are just as their name implies. They are a middleweight horse created by the cross between a coldblood draft horse and a hotblood light horse. Generations of this refined breeding has resulted in the best of both worlds.

Today, these are the types of horses you will see in show arenas all over the world. Due to the warmbloods constant interaction with people, they’ve grown to become some of the most intelligent of all horses.

types of horses

Friesian Horse, originally bred as a draft horse

Your coldbloods are big, strong, and born to work. Your draft horses will fall into this classification of horse. Breeders expertly designed these horses to do work on farms, etc. These massive equines pull plow, carriages and plows. And they do so with ease.

Some of the most famous American coldbloods are the Budweiser Clydesdales. On average, draft horses weigh over 1600 lbs, are 16 hands tall or more, and have the ability to pull double their weight for short distances. These large horses are known by many for their calm disposition and level-headed attitude.

horse types

Pinto Horse

Light Horses 

A light horse is the complete opposite of a draft horse. Their important purpose is to use their endurance, speed, and agility. These horses can be found from ranches to racetracks. They excel at being ridden as they were bred for this exact purpose.

A light horse can vary in several factors, including build, coat color, weight, and height. Some examples of light horses include: Paints, Morgans, American Quarter Horses, and Pintos. The light horses of today can be traced back through their Thoroughbred and Arabian ancestors. They can also perform light work, such as pulling buggies. The temperament of the light horse can also vary based on the breed of horse in which they are.

Portrait of a appaloosa horse foal in the wild

Appaloosa Horse

Gaited Horses

Given the adjective to describe this classification, it should come as no surprise that these horses are mostly known for their gait. When it comes to gaited horses, they offer a smooth ride which can be labeled as a walk, trot, or gallop. The Tennessee Walking Horse is likely the most famous and easily recognizable horse of this type. This type of horse offers the rider a smooth ride and can be ideal for those wanting to avoid bouncing around too much. They typically follow a four step pattern and are a great riding choice for those with joint issues. A gaited horse is an excellent choice for those who enjoy trail riding.

types of horses

Icelandic Horses

MajesticRider.com tells more about these favorites of the equine world:

A gaited horse moves each leg independently, so there is always one foot on the ground, since they are transferring weight to different legs but never suspending themselves in the air, as is done with a trot, there is less energy used by the horse.  This use of less energy gives the horse more stamina and enables him to travel long distances without as much energy that would be required by a trotting horse.

A few other gaited horse breeds include the Icelandic horse, the American Saddlebred, the Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse, and the Appaloosa.

types of horses

Shetland Ponies


A pony is any mature horse which comes in under 14.2 hands. The miniature horse and the Icelandic horse are the only two exemptions to this ruling. Despite their smaller size, these horses are incredibly versatile and excel at many tasks. Ponies have been used for centuries for riding, packing, jumping, and even plowing.

Some of the most popular ponies include the Welsh Mountain Pony, Shetland Pony, and the Highland Pony.

horse types

Welsh Mountain Pony

Fun history fact for you: On the pony express, the word “pony” was used because these horses selected were under 14 hands—but not actual ponies. There were typically Morgans, Thoroughbreds, Pintos, and Mustangs that were used depending on the area of the trail.

Did you learn anything new and exciting about horse types? Share this article with other equine enthusiasts so they can learn something new, too.

horse types

Belgian Draft Horses


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