There are around four hundred breeds of horses. These breeds can
be classified into several categories: draft horses, ponies, light
harness horses and saddle horses.
Two Eastern breeds emerged early on and had a profound influence
on all the horses that followed. When you think of horse breeds
(or bloodlines of types) it is the Thoroughbred or the Arabian that
comes to mind. Known for their endurance, Arabians are the foundation
for most of the light horse breeds. Many breeds of riding horses
have Arabians in their backgrounds, often through the Thoroughbred
breed, which was developed using Arabians. The Asian breeds, influenced
by Arabian or Persian breeds, are small and relatively plain horses
but known for their intelligence.
Draft horse breeds are "cold-blooded," meaning they are amazingly
calm and good-natured, a necessity considering their power.
The oldest of the heavy working-horse breeds, the Belgian heavy
draft horse descends directly from a prehistoric European horse
and the Ardennais horse. Percheron is the breed of working horse
native to France, one of the most popular large breeds in the world.
The development of warmblood breeds was largely through a process
of selective breeding of the Iberian horse, rather than from outside
influence. Eighty percent of all modern breeds can be traced back
to the Iberian horse.
One of the oldest horse breeds, the Akhal-Teké has been bred and
raced for at least 3000 years. Akhal-Teke blood has influenced the
development of several modern horse breeds, yet its own unique features
have remained largely undiluted for centuries.
At least 77 wild mares passed on their genes to today's modern
horse breeds, from the American mustang to the Shetland pony. Many
breeds are popular as show horses, pleasure horses, and trail horses.
As well as the official breeds, there are many horses who are cross-bred,
meaning they are a combination of several breeds. Relatively few
distinct, pure breeds of horses remain, and their conservation should
be a high priority for horse fanciers and the horse industry.
The thoroughbred are so inbred that the pedigree of every horse
can be traced back to one of three stallions, known as "Foundation
shires". Considering descent through all channels, the top 30 founders
were responsible for nearly 80% of all the genes in today's thoroughbreds.
This equates to one-sixth of the horses in the world and includes
more than 26 distinct breeds.
Societies developed different breeds or varieties of horses for
different uses, each one having special qualities to perform its
task. Often horses may be of different breeds, yet used for the
same purpose. For example, some breeds are usually used as race
horses, and other breeds are used as high-stepping show horses.
Different riding horse breeds have been developed to perform different
jobs under saddle. The Finnish horse is one of the few multipurpose
breeds in the world. Today, the demand is for luxurious and long
About the Author:
Rob Daniels has been an equestrian rider for 25 years. He has studied
various disciplines additional articles are available at: Riding
Stable - http://www.riding-stable.com
and Horse Stall http://www.horse-stall.net
About the Author
Dean Erickson. Journalist,
and web site builder Dean Erickson lives in Texas. He is the owner
and co-editor of horses-for-sale-directory.info on which you will
find a longer, more detailed version of this article.