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Horse Breeds by Rob Daniels

Horse Breeds

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 lined horses.


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.