Horse Breeds

Horse Breeds

In hippology, there are many different breeds of horses from all over the world, each with its own specific coat. Each breed has its own field of predilection in terms of equestrian discipline or according to its use (work, leisure, sport).

brown horse breeds

Horse breeds : equine vocabulary

Each breed has very specific criteria that allow us to judge its physical qualities and defects. A horse's breed is therefore studied from head to toe. When it comes to analysing a horse, model show judges, professionals and horse breeders tend to use language that is difficult to decipher for the layman, with expressions such as

  • he is well out of the front
  • he covers ground
  • he's open at both ends and easily placed

This vocabulary, which is very cryptic for the uninitiated, makes it possible to define the body as a whole, subject to the criteria of beauty (or even defect) established for each breed.

Specific criteria according to the breed of horse

It is the morphology of the horse that defines this or that breed type according to its size, its profile and the relationship between the different parts of its body.

Note : for example, for the size criterion, a distinction is made between small (or "hypometric"), normal (or "eumetric") and large (or "hypermetric") horses.

A geometric approach to breed

To determine a breed, a horse can be placed in a square or rectangle by drawing the topline (upper body limit) in comparison with the limbs. The conclusions of this method are as below :

  • The Arabian thoroughbred fits into a square.
  • The English thoroughbred fits into a horizontally elongated rectangle.
  • The draught horse, on the other hand, is stronger and fits into a vertically elongated rectangle.
  • A concave horse has a hollow back, or even a saddle seat.
  • The convex horse is rather round.

The morphology of the horse : a breed criterion

The whole of the body, including the head and neck, defines the whole of its morphology, more or less harmonious between each part of the body. Certain essential points are highlighted according to the breed. For example :

  • Concerning the general silhouette, a horse is long-legged if its whole morphology is elongated and it is short-legged if it is short or stocky.
  • Mares often have wider hips than males. The latter must have a muscular neck and a good forehand.
  • As for the amplitude of the gaits (ways in which the horse moves), it is based on a long shoulder directed towards the front with a long hip/buttock axis.
  • A good neck, the horse's balance, must be extended, well fixed in its lower part and thick at the base to maintain a good balance. The neck may then be short, inverted, long and slender (not well set on).
  • The ganaches (rear parts of the lower jaw) are different according to the breed. They can define a rather typical head or a heavy head, in relation to the line of the muzzle (part going from the line of the eyes to the nasal region). For example, a typey head is usually reserved for the Arabian thoroughbred because it has a convex muzzle.

How to observe the breed of a horse ?

The morphology of the horse is studied from different angles :

  • Standing still, then in profile : this way of observing the horse makes it possible to define the proportions, lines and angles drawn by its shoulders and hips.
  • From the front and back : this method is very useful for examining the front and back legs and the thickness of the body.

A horse is also observed at different gaits : at a walk or trot, walking back and forth to see the horse from the back, but also from the front.

Number of horse breeds

There are 397 horse breeds in the world, including 37 in USA. The most typical breeds are of the "saddle" variety, which contains the sport and leisure breeds, as well as ponies. 15% of the breeds are draught horses. As for the thoroughbred, whose preferred field is horse racing, it represents 5% of the breeds.

Examples of horse breeds

Below you will find some examples of horse breeds. They are categorised by category, origin and use.

Breeds Category Origin  Usage
Percheron Draught French carriage driving, endurance, leisure, trekking, hiking
Haflinger saddle, sport, pony Austria training, driving, leisure, trekking, trec
Appaloosa saddle, racing, sport USA training, endurance, leisure, trekking, trec
Friesian saddle, draft, sport Netherlands training, driving, leisure
French Trotter saddle, racing, sport French leisure, show jumping, riding
Thoroughbred saddle bronc, racing, sport United Kingdom racing
Anglo Arabian saddle, racing, sport French training, leisure


Identification of equines

Today, for all breeds of horses, it is mandatory to identify all equines. This identification system consists of 15 digits :

  • The first six digits correspond to the country and the database that registered the horse the very first time.
  • The other digits identify the animal.

By Luisina Giovannini

I created Horse Placenta with the aim of showing all the beauty of this incredible animal which is the horse. I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. I invite you to continue reading to find out more.

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