20+ Best Horse Breeds in the World (the Most Popular Breeds)

Horses are the most loyal animals, used for multiple reasons, from carrying things, traveling to entertainment through races, bidding, etc. 

According to the research carried out by the Oklahoma State University, a total of 217 breeds of horses have been discovered to date, from the Abyssinian to the Zemaich. 

Till now, we’ve covered a lot of different listicles on the best horses for various use cases including the best breeds for beginners as well as the best ones in terms of speed and dressage. But in this article, we’ve decided to combine all the different types of use cases and come up with a universal list of the best horse breeds in the world according to our experts.

Best Horse Breeds

There is an extensive list of horses that are used for various purposes. 25 of these famous breeds include:

1. Irish Thoroughbred

Credits: Tsaag Valren

Height: They stand up to 15 – 16 hands at maturity.

Weight: An average Irish Thoroughbred horse weighs around 1150 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: These are strong horses with long, lean necks and muscular legs and back which are responsible for their speed.

Irish Thoroughbred is a thoroughbred native to Ireland. Popular for their strength and intelligence and a life expectancy of about 30 years, they are used in show jumping, leisure riding, and other racing events. Their characteristics have earned them the name of Irish Hunter. The Irish Thoroughbred horses are so popular that many ancient Irish mythology sources refer to these horses as heroes and important historical figures. They are often shown or spoken of in Irish poetry, art and films. As a result of Ireland’s friendly environment, these horses are well nurtured to adulthood.

2. Arabian Horse

Credits: Kent Pledger

Height: They have an average height of 14 – 16 hands.

Weight: They weigh around 800 – 1000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Native to the Arabian peninsula, these horses are light in weight, strong, swift, and have powerful muscles.

This is one of the oldest and one of the most significant breeds in the world. Although it is hot-blooded and experienced in warfare, the Arabian horses are still surprisingly friendly to humans; though a professional trainer may be required to train them.

3. Andalusian Horse

Height: They weigh up to 16 hands.

Weight: An average Andalusian horse weighs around 900 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Andalusian is the breed of horse that has both the brains and the brawn (it is a heavily built horse) and hails from the Iberian peninsula. Often referred to as “The Pure Spanish Horse”, their lineage dates back to 1000 years. These horses were used by many Spanish kings, diplomats, governors, etc. Fortunately, nowadays people love Andalusian Horses for their beauty and strength. Due to these characteristics, an Andalusian is a good horse for beginners who want to ride hefty horses.

4. Appaloosa

Height: They can go up to 16 hands.

Weight: They weigh around 1100 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Native to America, this horse was first bred by the Nez Perce people. They are most famous for the unique spotted coat at the back of their body. This breed is an all-rounder as they can do anything a horse does; show jumping, racing, leisure riding, etc.

Appaloosas are extremely docile and easy to tame and train, perfect for beginners who want a horse that is easy to ride and tame but also doesn’t want to miss out on the speed and agility that other horses have in abundance.

5. American Quarter Horse

Height: Their height can go up to 15 hands.

Weight: American Quarter horses weigh between 950 to 1200 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Hailing from America, this is another all-rounder horse breed that is easy to tame, provided that you give them abundant love. They have wide eyes and strong legs that allow them to move quickly.

These horses are the result of a crossbreed between native Spanish horses and English thoroughbreds in Virginia in the mid 17th century. They were given this name because they were able to successfully pull off a quarter-mile race in Rhode Island and Virginia. Due to their calm cooperative nature, they are considered to be amongst the best horses for beginners.

6. Hackney Horse

Credits: Just chaos

Height: Their average height is 14-15 hands.

Weight: They weigh around 1000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Hackney horses were first used as carriage horses but then their image was transformed from another common carriage horse to a show horse. The first hackney horse appeared in the 1800s when a thoroughbred was bred with the Norfolk Trotter. Known for their well-built muscles, wide chest and arched necks, they are mainly used by rich people who fancy a show ride. They may not be very comfortable for beginners as it’s pretty difficult to control and train them.

7. Orlov Trotter

Height: They have a height of up to 15 – 17 hands.

Weight: An average Orlov trotter weighs 990 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: These horses are strong in build, have a lot of endurance, and can withstand blistering cold, and still attain high speeds. These horses hail from Russia and are named after the person who first bred this breed,  Count A.G. Orlov.

In the 18th century, Orlov wanted to breed a special horse that would be speedy in the cold and would be able to run on poorly conditioned roads and have a lot of endurance. He was able to achieve this through the Orlov Trotters which were a huge success in Russia.

8. Marwari Horse

Credits: Ji-Elle

Height: Marwari male horses reach up to 14.3 hands and the mare up to 13.3 hands.

Weight: An average Marwari horse weighs around 800 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: They are slim and their most unique aspect is their ears, which curve inwards until the tips touch. These horses come from the Marwar region in India. It is believed that they were selectively bred with Arabian horses. 

This rare breed is used for parading in festivals and is also ideal for polo matches. Because of their bone structure, they are perfect for survival in deserts. They are bred in various colors such as grey, bay, chestnut, etc.

9. Gypsy Horse

Credits: Mary E. Graybeal

Height: The average height of a gypsy horse ranges from 13 to 16 hands.

Weight: They weigh up to 1700 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Gypsy horses are draft horses that are ideal for beginners and experienced riders. Their gentle nature makes them perfect for children as well. They are powerful and are well known for their furry coats. 

Initially raised by British Gypsies, these horses are great for pulling carts and are also used for therapeutic riding because of their calm personalities.

10. Akhal-Teke

Credits: Ulruppelt

Height: They stand up to 14.2 to 16 hands.

Weight: An average Akhal Teke weighs around 1000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Also known as ‘Golden Horses’ because of their shiny coats, Akhal Tekes hail from Turkmenistan. 

They are clever and form a special bond with their owners which has earned them the title of a ‘one-time horse’. Akhal Tekes are used for dressage, riding, showjumping, and also for racing in Turkmenistan and Russia.

11. Friesian Horse

Credits: Larissa Allen

Height: An average Friesian Horse has a height of 15.3 hands.

Weight: They weigh between 1200 to 1400 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Friesian horses have thick manes and tails. They are easygoing and most of them have a black colored coat. 

Originally,  these horses were used as war horses. Now, they are used for dressage in movies because of their calm aura. These horses can also participate in classical dressage which requires complex movement and extreme stamina. They are also used for trail riding, in competitions and have the ability to pull carts. Furthermore, Friesian horses are ideal for traveling.

12. Morgan Horse

Credits: Selena N

Height: Morgan horses have an average height ranging from 14.1 to 15.2 hands. 

Weight: They weigh around 900 to 1100 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Most commonly found in the chestnut, bay, and black colors, Morgan horses are muscly and have long, sturdy legs and powerful backs. 

Morgan horses are all-purpose horses with a life expectancy of 30 years. They are used in agriculture, for trotting, and were even used in wars. They are also capable of racing. They feed on grass, grains, and hay in quantities much lesser than most horse breeds which is why a slow hay feeder may not be necessary for them.. Furthermore, they are easy to train and friendly with strangers.

13. Mustang

Credits: Selona

Height: A Mustang has an average height ranging from 12 to 14 hands. 

Weight: It weighs 800 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Mustangs have small backs with an overall muscular build. They hail from Spain and were exported to North America. Although they are wild; with enough training, they have the potential to become carriage horses and can also be used for riding. 

With even more professional training, Mustangs have the ability to participate in various competitions. They are bred in a wide range of colors such as bay, black, white, and chestnut. They have one of the longest lifespans of 40 years as compared to other horse breeds.

14. American Paint Horse

Credits: Cjambla

Height: These horses stand between 14.2 to 15.2 hands. However, the horses with Thoroughbred inheritance tend to be taller.

Weight: An average American Paint horse weighs from 950 to 1200 pounds. 

Physical Characteristics: These horses are gentle with muscular legs and inclined shoulders, because of specialized breeding with American Quarter horses. This breed is found in many colors such as white, black, chestnut, etc.

Their calm character makes them safe to train. They are used for riding, show jumping, trail riding, dressage, ranch riding, and so on. 

15. Tennessee Walking Horse

Credits: Just chaos

Height: They are up to 116 hands tall.

Weight: Their average weight is 1000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Originating from Tennessee, these horses have small ears and an elongating, slanted shoulder. They come in different colors and sometimes in spotted patterns. Their backs and legs are incredibly strong. These horses have a speed of 16 to 32 km/hr. 

Tenessee Walking horses are used in general riding and show rings. Because of their way of walking, they are ideal for riders of all ages. Their special running walk carries riders at great speeds. Other variations of their walks include single foot, stepping pace, foxtrot, etc. For classic flat walks, their front legs slide over the hind legs as they walk.

16. Haflinger Horse

Credits: Paula Jantunen

Height: The height of Haflinger Horses range from 13 hands to 15 hands.

Weight: They weigh around 800 – 1300 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: These horses hail from Austria and have a chestnut brown color throughout their body. They have a beautiful, shining white mane. This breed has a timid body compared to other breeds however, they are equally strong and well structured like the other opponent breeds. They also have distinct face markings in which some have a fire – like markings and others have star-like markings. This is a determined and useful horse used for harness work, dressage, and riding.

17. Icelandic Horse

Credits: Andreas Tille

Height: An Icelandic Horse stands up to 14 hands.

Weight: They weigh an average of 600 – 800 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: They come in 42 colors and are also known as the purest breeds. The government of Iceland has placed restrictions on cross-breeding this horse breed with any other. Many believe that these horses were transported to Iceland centuries ago by ships under the control of the Vikings(also known as the Norse settlers). 

Just like Haflinger horses, these horses are also small in size but strong in strength. In fact, they are also known to be one of the strongest horse breeds in the world.

18. Dutch Warmblood

Height: They can go up to 15 – 17 hands.

Weight: Their average weight is about 1400 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: These horses have long legs and are responsive to emotions. The modern-day Dutch warmblood evolved from these two native Dutch breeds. They are willing, intelligent, and are very easy to control and train, making them a perfect match for beginners. Because of these characteristics, today’s Dutch Warmblood is a horse that is suitable for all horse activities such as show jumping, leisure riding, etc.

19. Clydesdale

Height: They can go up to 18 hands in height.

Weight: Clydesdale horses weigh around 2000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: These enormous horses originate from Scotland, wherein, in the 18th century two breeders bred Flemish stallions with local draught horses. This horse was originally used for agricultural purposes but it can also be used for riding. This breed has a straight nose, huge ears, and a long but arched neck. They have a mane and big lumps of hair around their enormous hooves. Moreover, it is an active and intelligent horse breed.

20. Standardbred

Credits: Izzypie

Height: A Standardbred’s height ranges from 15 to 16 hands.

Weight: Their average weight is around 1000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Standardbreds were first developed in America and were bred into many other breeds. They have a lot of endurance and stamina and are mainly used for harness racing. This breed is also the world’s fastest harness racing horse. It is a very friendly, willing, and intelligent horse breed, making it a very good match for beginners who are trying to get their hands on easy horses to ride.

21. Hanoverian

Credits: nick

Height: A Hanoverian’s height varies from 1.6 meters to 1.7 meters. 

Weight: Their average weight is 1400 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: They have straight, clever eyes with powerful shoulders, a deep chest, and strong, muscular legs. Because of their Thoroughbred heritage, they have an athletic nature with warm conduct.

Hanoverian horses are mainly used for riding and farm work because of their patience and temperament. Their diet comprises grass, dried hay, and grains. This species has won thrice in the Olympics and also participates in show jumping competitions.

22. Brumby

Credits: Cgoodwin

Height: A Brumby’s height ranges from 12 to 15 hands.

Weight: They weigh between 800 to 1000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: This is a strong breed that is easily trainable. Mainly found in Australia, they are used for show horses, in therapy, and, despite coming from the wild, they also make good companions. Many people hold these horses responsible for harming the environment, because they overgraze farmlands, angering the locals. Thus, they slaughter them, however, and certain animal rights groups are working for their perseverance.

23. Shetland Pony

Credits: Herbythyme

Height: These horses can go up to a height of 102 cm with a maximum of 117 cm.

Weight: Their average weight ranges from 400 to 450 pounds. 

Physical Characteristics: They make excellent beginner horses because of their friendly nature. They are strong and adaptable. Over time, these ponies have been used for pulling carts and also as pit ponies. Their main colors are grey, bay, and black.

Shetland Ponies grow thicker coats, tails, and manes during winters. They are not willing to cooperate with their owners at times which has earned them the titles of being ‘opinionated’ and ‘snappy’ horses.  

24. Connemara

Credits: Rozpravka

Height: Their height ranges from 13 to 15 hands, or 54 to 60 inches.

Weight: They weigh up to 450 kgs at maturity.

Physical Characteristics: Connemaras have sharp features and strong bones. They are friendly which also makes them great for beginners. They have short, strong legs and are sure-footed owing to their Irish environment. These horses are bred in colors such as bay, brown, chestnut, and black.

Initially, they were used to pull carts and were heavily exploited without rest but now they compete in show jumping, dressage, and side saddle, etc. Despite maturing at only 5 years, this breed lives to the 30s. They are used for riding by both children and adults.

25. Shire Horse

Credits: Michael Fiegle

Height: The average height of Shire horses is almost 68 inches.

Weight: They weigh up to 900 kgs or 2000 pounds.

Physical Characteristics: Mainly found in the bay, brown and black, Shire horses have a lot of white hair on their legs and feet. They have large heads with big eyes and are very clever. They also have short, muscular legs and a strong stomach.

Shire horses are commonly used for obstacle driving, and other sports such as timber snigging. In this sport, the horses complete an obstacle race while pushing logs along the way. They are also able to pull heavy objects which makes them greater at pulling carts and carrying heavy loads.

FAQs Related To The Best Horse Breeds In The World

Listed below are a series of FAQs about the best horse breeds in the world:

The best horses are bred by which country?

The United States breeds the best horse breed, which is the Appaloosa breed. These horses were initially brought by explorers from Spain in the 1600s and were then bred by the native tribe of Nez Perce. The breed got its name after the Palouse river where their breeders lived. 
Appaloosas are extremely versatile horses used for pleasure, trail riding, racing, cattle grazing, etc. Moreover, the horses of this breed are also used in movies because of their striking appearance. It is a soft-hearted horse which makes it very easygoing and trainable. It is also easily recognizable because of its spotted pattern. 

Which horse breed is the fastest?

Thoroughbreds are undoubtedly the fastest horse breed. It holds a Guinness world record because of its speed of 70 – 76 km per hour. These are hot-blooded breeds, which means that they are fiery and active. Their body is slender which makes them quick, and they have long legs and a deep chest which help them move fast and breathe calmly, thus not slowing down their speed. Even American Quarter horses are incredibly fast; but only for short distances, for long distances Thoroughbreds are faster owing to their deep chest. 
Thoroughbreds hail from the world’s fastest breeds which are the Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman horses, and stand out at every competition. They participate in events such as show jumping, barrel racing, and so on.

Which is the most beautiful horse in the world?

The most beautiful horse is the Golden Akhal Teke from Turkmenistan. It is a Thoroughbred which is around 155 cm tall. People believe that it was born with its golden coat for camouflaging with the environment. This horse has a silky coat, large eyes, and a long neck. Its strong muscular legs support it to carry huge weights and run long distances. 
Since it is a Thoroughbred, it has incredible speed and is also one of the oldest breeds in the world. 

Which is the most loyal horse breed?

American Quarter horse is the most loyal breed in the world. These are the second most popular racehorses, after Thoroughbreds, and are very loyal to their owners. They form a special bond with them and are always friendly towards them. These horses are used for cattle work, riding, races and show jumping, etc.

Which horse breed is the rarest?

Marsh Tacky is the rarest breed in the world. They were brought to America by Spanish traders. This is a sturdy breed and was believed to be extinct until recently they were discovered through some documentaries. Marshy Tackys are mostly found in solid colors and have impressive survival skills. 
This breed was also used in the war against Nazis. Nowadays, it is being protected by animal rights workers who are striving to preserve this breed. 

Which is the strongest horse?

A Belgian draft horse is the strongest horse breed in the world. It weighs from 1800 to 2000 pounds. Initially used as cavalry Belgian horses have now transformed into horses used in the agricultural sector. This breed holds pulling records and has a calm temperament.

Which is the most expensive horse of all time?

Fusaichi Pegasus, an American Thoroughbred is the most expensive horse of all time. It was the winner of many awards and competitions, one of which was the Kentucky Derby in 2000. Later that year, the horse was sold for a price of 70 million dollars. It was named after his owner, Fusao Sekiguchi, who was a Japanese businessman and a thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast.

Is there a most popular horse breed?

Arabian horses are the most popular horse breed in the world. These horses are super tough. This breed can adapt easily to its surroundings. They are also one of the most successful horse breeds in resisting diseases. Furthermore, they have a lot of endurance, speed and are very muscular. 
These horses have long necks and sharp features. This breed has adapted to harsh environments over the years and is best for experienced riders. Their life expectancy is 30 years and they walk smoothly. Arabian horses are agitated when abused and may react harshly. The most fascinating fact about this species is that their Bedouin owners cherished them to such an extent that they were kept in the same house, which developed their trust in their owners. 
These horses have less appetite because food is scarce in deserts, which means that they can easily travel without food for a period of time. However, they do need the right amount of nutrition from grass and grains to survive.

Conclusion

Horses are sensitive animals that form lifelong bonds with their owners, no matter what breed they belong to. They survive all kinds of environments and stay loyal. For long periods of time, they go without food without retaliating.

Since its diet mainly consists of water grass, it is low maintenance which means it is not costly to take care of it.

They are alert animals and have social abilities, always keen on making new friends.  Moreover, horses are easy to travel with as they carry huge loads and protect their riders from harm.