Introduction to Horse Breeds
There are over 300 breeds of horses around the world. The argument continues on what makes a breed a breed. Most agree there should be some genetic component that distinguishes the breed but all breeds are combinations of the original breeds that over time have been recognized as a "breed" of horse. A registry, on the other hand, grants certifications and breeding status to horses that fit within their requirements. Although the word "breed" denotes to most English speaking horsemen a closed studbook (like that of the Arabians and Thoroughbreds), it has a different connotation in the European Warmblood breeding community. Breed refers to the "breeding area" as much as to the strict purity of the bloodlines. Each breeding area sets its own breeding goals and style of administration which, despite shared background and bloodlines, gives specific qualities and characteristics to its horses. Think Dutch versus Swedish Warmblood or Hanoverian versus Westphalen (different parts of Germany).
There is much history to horse breeds and there was a wonderful project out of Oklahoma State that reviews breeds from all over the world. For a comprehensive look at the breeds they covered, check out:
Horses may also be categorized as hot, cold or warm blooded. Hot blooded horses were those recognized as having a lot of athletic ability and endurance for speed and jumping. Cold blooded horses were large boned, strong, and more suitable for heavy work. The warmblood was developed through mixing cold and hot breeds to develop horses with the best characteristics of each. You may easily find different definitions based on perceptions of characteristics of these horses as well as the the geographical area from which they came. Hot blooded horses often originated from warmer climates whereas the cold blooded draft horses were the go to in colder regions who needed them for their hardier build and calmer temperament.
This book will cover the breeds (some created through registries) most often seen in the US. All of which can be found right here in Minnesota!
American Warmblood (Registry – Open Stud Book)
The American Warmblood is a breed created from a registry. Any breeder with a horse that meets the registry’s requirements can have their horse labeled an American Warmblood. This registry is often used by horse owners and breeders who cannot register their horses with the registry of either the sire or the dam because they do not qualify under that breed’s registry. This is an open stud book registry. These horses can be found in every discipline.
Andalusian (Breed - Closed Stud Book)
The Andalusian is a breed from the Iberian Peninsula. This is a closed stud book and a true Andalusian has a dam and sire that are also Andalusian. They have a full mane and tail and are a medium sized horse standing around 15.2 hands on average. The most common color is gray. These horses are most often used for dressage, jumping and driving.
Appaloosa (Breed - not a closed stud book)
True Appaloosa’s have a sire and dam that are appaloosa. The breed was developed over time by American Indian Tribes. The registry actually allows one parent to be something other than appaloosa (although it is strict about what that other can be). HWhen white settlers came to the Northwest Palouse region, they called the spotted horses "Palouse horses" or "a Palouse horse." Over time the name was shortened and slurred to "Appalousey" and finally "Appaloosa." Appys (their nickname) are often recognizable from their “blanket of spots” or leopard coloring as well as by stripes in their hooves, sclera in the eye and their limited manes and tails.
Arabian (Breed - Closed Stud Book)
The Bedouin tribes of the desert first declared the Arabian as their breed of choice. Individual horses were selected for the gentle, affectionate nature, the striking look, and proud spirit the breed is known for today. The Arabian was also bred to withstand long treks across the desert and the tribal wars which sometimes followed such trips. The thoroughbred was begun from arabian stallions mixed with european horses.
The Arabian's head has a characteristic dished profile with a prominent eye, large nostrils and small teacup muzzle. The ears of the Arab are also distinctive with the points at the top tipping towards each other. Arabs can be found in multiple sports like endurance, dressage and often they are used by entertainment troupes. The carrying of the tail high make the Arab appear proud and haughty to humans.
Belgian (Breed - Closed Stud Book)
The Belgian, as the name implies, is native to the country of Belgium. They are however bred outside of Belgium as well.
They are the horses that carried armored knights into battle. Such horses were known to exist in that part of Europe in the time of Caesar. They provided the genetic material from which nearly all the modern draft breeds were fashioned. The North American draft horse is much taller, has a higher stepping gait and other qualities that differentiate it from its Belgian ancestors. For more information see: http://www.belgiancorp.com/
Clydesdale (Breed - Closed Stud Book)
The Clydesdale is a breed of heavy draft horse developed in and deriving its name from the district in Scotland where it was founded. Its type was evolved by the farmers of Lanarkshire, through which the River Clyde flows. The old name for Lanarkshire is Clydesdale.
Most of the horses range in size from 16.2 to 18 hands and weigh between 1600 and 1800 lbs. Some of the mature stallions and geldings are taller and will weigh up to 2200 lbs. The most common color in the Clydesdale breed is bay. Black, brown, and chestnut are also seen with roans (solid body color with white hairs throughout the coat) in all of the colors. The preferred markings are four white socks to the knees and hocks, and a well-defined blaze or bald face. The Clydesdale is the breed used to pull the Budweiser wagons and in their commercials. They are preferred because of their high-stepping style of movement.
Buckskin (BREED and color - Open Stud Book)
The Buckskin is thought to of originated from the Spanish Sorraia. The Dun is a breed so old that his actual origin is lost in antiquity. However, there are many indications that even he obtained his coloring from the horses of Spain.
The blood of the Sorraia (and the Norwegian Dun as well) filtered into nearly every breed found in the world today, hence the fact that the Buckskin, Dun or Grulla may be found in nearly every breed.
The Buckskin horse in not a mere "color." Buckskins, Grulla and Duns are noted for many qualities that are not characteristic of other types of horses. Their color is an indication of the superior genetic heritage they possess. Buckskins have been long noted for their superior qualities and strength. They have more stamina, more determination, harder feet, better bone, and are generally hardier than other horses. "Tough as wet leather" is a good description of the true Buckskin.
Fresian (Breed – closed stud book)
The Friesian breed is one of the oldest domesticated breeds in Europe. It is native to the province of Friesland in the northern Netherlands. The Friesian suffered a decline in numbers with the increase of mechanization on the farm and in transportation. In fact, the number of Friesian stallions reputedly was reduced to only three prior to World War I. The breed was rejuvenated by introducing Oldenburg blood. In recent years the breed has attracted a great deal of acclaim and its future seems assured. The Friesian is found in circuses, jousting, driving competitions and can be seen in the dressage ring in the United States.
One of the outstanding characteristics of the Friesian horse is its very long mane and tail. These are never cut and often reach the ground. The breed also has abundant feather and long leg hair reaching from the middle of the leg. The color is always black, and only a white star in the forehead is permissible. The head of the Friesian is carried quite high and the face is expressive. The neck is carried rather vertically and is low-set. The legs and quarters are muscular yet smooth. It stands at 15 hands or taller.
Gypsy Vanner (Breed – closed stud book)
The Gypsy Vanner Horse is a beautiful and rare new breed of horse envisioned by the European Gypsies. These horses have been selectively bred over the past 60 years to create a kind of small Shire that was colorful enough to match their caravans. These horses, bred by the Gypsies, are easily recognizable by their long, flowing manes and tails, and the profusion of feathers on their legs. These make them look as if they fly when they run. The Gypsy Vanner Horse is a new breed to the United States.
Haflinger (Breed – closed stud book)
The Haflinger is an old breed of small horse that originated in the mountains of Austria. The name comes from the village of Hafling, part of Austria prior to the end of World War I, but now located in Italy. The beginning of today's Haflinger can be traced to the year 1874 and the birth of the stallion, "249 Folie," out of a refined, native Tyrolean mare and sired by the half-Arab stallion, "133 El' Bedavi XXII." All purebred Haflingers trace their lineage to this stallion. The Haflinger came to North America in 1958. Haflingers are a smaller breed and are used in the US for driving and riding. Their size and coloring distinguish them from other breeds.
Icelandic (Breed – closed stud book)
The Icelandic horse is descended from horses brought to Iceland by settlers over eleven centuries ago. The Icelandic horse is described as a rather small, sturdy and hardy, but not light in build. Traditionally the Icelandic horse has been raised free range or in a herd.The average height is between 13 and 14 hands. All colors are found except appaloosa marking, with the most common being chestnut. All white markings are acceptable and there are pintos in all of the base colors. The horses have long, thick manes and tails and the winter coat is double. In addition to the standard walk, trot and canter, the Icelandic horse has tolt, a “running walk” Saddlebred. Some are also bred for a special "flying pace" or skold, which is a very fast lateral gait used for racing short distances. Some horses can reach almost 30 miles an hour using this pace.
Protection of the horses is assured by the strict regulations of the Icelandic government. No horse which has been taken out of Iceland can come back into the country. Also, only new, unused horse equipment may be taken to Iceland. This is to prevent an outbreak of disease which could decimate the population of Icelandic horses.
Because Iceland has no predators, but instead is a country with tremendous environmental danger, such as quicksand, rock slides, and rivers with changing currents, the ability to assess a situation rather than the instinct to flee has been central in the survival of the horse. Therefore, these horses lack the “spookiness” that characterizes most horses. Due perhaps to their lack of fear of living things, they seek strong attachments to people and are quite nurturing and affectionate.
Watch the Icelandic horse in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpoOKASzTk4
Irish Draught (Breed – closed stud book)
The name Irish Draught may be misleading in that many people are surprised to find that the breed is a lighter free-moving animal than the traditional image of the heavy draught horse. The breed has been in existence for a century or more, though it has been nearly lost on several occasions. Traditionally, the Draught was the farm horse in Ireland and it also had to be capable of being used as hunter and ridden. Gradually the breed developed into an animal around 15.2 hh-16.2 hh in mares and 16hh-17 hh in stallions and of any whole color.
The horse has a graceful carriage of head and neck with a big, kind eye, strong limbs with particularly short cannon bones. The feet are one of the most important points and the reason why the Irish Draught is required for the breeding of show jumpers, they have to withstand the concussion from jumping, often on hard surfaces.
Lipizzan (Breed – closed stud book)
The Lipizzan (or the Lipizzaner as it may sometimes be called) trace their history back to the early 1560's when the finest Arab blood was introduced and fused with the local athletic Spanish horses during the Moorish occupation of Spain. Interest in the art of classical riding revived during the Renaissance period when the Spanish horse was considered the most suitable mount because of his exceptional sturdiness, beauty and intelligence.
Born dark, black-brown, brown or mouse-grey, Lipizzans turn white somewhere between the ages of 6 and 10. As mentioned above, only in rare cases does the horse stay the original dark color. Not a tall horse, averaging between 14.3 to 15.3 hands, the Lipizzan presents a very powerful picture. The tail is carried high and, like the mane, is thick and long.
The home of the Lipizzan is the Spanish Riding School. The purpose of the school was (and still is) to perpetuate the art of classical horsemanship. This included the training of the young riders and the horses according to the principles of dressage. The second purpose of the Spanish Riding School is the breeding of the Lipizzan horses. Only the best are kept to continue the line. Lipizzans are also bred in the United States and are carefully maintained through the North American Lipizzan Registry.
Lusitano (Breed – closed stud book)
The Lusitano is found in Portugal. These horses are very similar in conformation to the Andalusian horses of Spain. The two breeds are thought to have originated from a common source but selection in the Lusitano has resulted in a more convex profile reminiscent of the old Andalusian or Iberian horse whereas the Andalusian as developed a more Oriental head shape.
Lusitano horses are generally between 15.1 - 15.3 h.h but there are some that make it over 16 h.h. Often gray or bay, they may be any true color, including dun and chestnut.
Miniature (Breed – closed stud book)
The American Miniature is a "height" breed; they must measure no more than 34 inches in height at maturity. This measurement is the vertical distance from the last hairs at the base of the mane to the ground. These tiny equine are replicas of their larger breed cousins and will look like Quarter Horses, Arabs, Thoroughbreds, and Draft Horses.
These little horses have already proved their worth in therapeutic programs for the disabled child or adult, as well as with the aged. They are also being used instead of seeing eye dogs or assistance dogs as they live longer and are vegetarians!
Missouri Fox Trotter (Breed – closed stud book)
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse was developed in the rugged Ozark hills during the 19th century by settlers who needed easy riding, durable mounts that could travel long distances at a sure-footed, ground consuming gait.
The distinguished characteristic of the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is the Fox Trot gait; the horse walks with the front feet and trots with the hind feet. This extremely sure footed gait gives the rider little jar since the hind feet slide into place. The Fox Trot is a rhythm gait and the horse can maintain it for long periods of time with little fatigue. The Missouri Fox Trotter also performs a rapid flat foot walk and a smooth canter.
Watch the Trotter’s gait here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1yCmzsXC2k
Morgan (Breed – closed stud book)
The Morgan breed was begun by a stallion with the name Figure owned by a man named Justin Morgan in the late 1700’s in Vermont. Figure sired many children and it is believed that all current Morgan horses can be traced back to Figure and 3 of this offspring.
As America grew so did the feats of the Morgan. New England men answered the call of gold and headed for California on Morgans. In the Civil War, the famed Vermont Cavalry was mounted on Morgan horses. Not only did the Union's General Sheridan ride his Morgan Rienzi, Stonewall Jackson rode his Morgan, 'Little Sorrel,' for the Confederacy as well! In the Indian Wars, the only survivor in the Battle of the little Big Horn was Keogh's Morgan-bred horse Comanche. If the pathways of history are paved with the bones of the horse, surely America's are paved by Morgans.
Present-day Morgans differ little from their mighty progenitor. The average size of a Morgan today is between 14.2-15.2 hands, with some individuals over or under. Morgan coats are predominantly chestnut, bay, or brown, although many black, palomino, buckskin, and even a few grays appear in the breed. The breed's tremendous courage, disposition, substance, and type has remained as important to breeders today as it was 200 years ago.
Mustang (Breed sort of....)
The Mustang is a feral horse found now in the western United States. The name Mustang comes from the Spanish word mesteño or monstenco meaning wild or stray. Originally these were Spanish horses or their descendants but over the years they became a mix of numerous breeds.
Most Mustangs are of the light horse or warmblood type. Horses of draft conformation are kept on separate ranges. The coat color is the full range of colors found in horses. While the Spanish blood has been diluted, many of the horses still exhibit Spanish characteristics. Adopting a wild mustang and domesticating it can be a difficult process similar to adopting and domesticating a feral cat.
Nakota (Breed – closed stud book)
Nokota® horses share a set of physical and behavioral characteristics that reflect their known history since the late 1800s. Their ancestors include early Native American and frontier ranch horses bred for use as war horses, buffalo runners, and all-purpose saddle horses. Many of those horses were descended from Spanish colonial stock. During most of the twentieth century, they lived wild in the rugged Little Missouri badlands, an area of rugged topography, erratic climatic conditions and long, sub-zero winters. During that time, their survival depended on avoiding capture by humans. These physical and social pressures combined to form durable, athletic, intelligent horses.
Those conditions also seem to have selected for the retention of the original phenotype associated with late nineteenth and early twentieth century ranch and Indian horses on the Northern Plains. Historic photographs taken of Nokota® ancestral stock - the Lakota (Sioux) horses and their offspring owned by the Marquis de Mores and the HT Ranch - show that today's Nokotas look remarkably similar.
Nokota® Horses are characterized by a square-set, angular frame, tapering musculature, V-shaped front end, angular shoulders with prominent withers, distinctly sloped croup, low tail set, strong bone, legs, and hooves, and "Spanish colonial" pigmentation. Their ears are often slightly hooked at the tips, and many have feathered fetlocks. Nokotas tend to mature slowly, and some exhibit ambling gaits.
The overall type is somewhat larger and rangier than the Spanish colonial horses of the southern Plains ("mustangs") while retaining typical Spanish coat colors (especially roan, frame overo, and dun) and other points of conformation. During North Dakota’s open range days, ranchers deliberately crossed Spanish colonial and “native” (wild and/or Indian mares) with larger stallions, hoping to preserve the agility and stamina of Southwestern strains while increasing their size and strength. The result was an all-purpose ranch horse that could be both driven and ridden and required little care.
Norwegian Fjord (Breed – closed stud book)
The Norwegian Fjord (pronounced Fee-ord) Horse is Norway's oldest horse breed. The original Norwegian Fjord varied in color and averaged 12.1 hands in size. Selection has increased the height to 13 to 14.1 hands and the breed is one of the few modern breeds exhibiting only the primitive or dun coloration.
All breeding in Norway is now controlled by a Norwegian government agency. Only champion stock can be exported. The Fjords now have registries in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden. The Fjord Horse is distinguished by its unequaled dependability. For centuries Norwegian breeders have been determined to improve the breed while emphasizing the calm and gentle temperament. They are easily broken and need no retraining, even after spending months at pasture untouched.
These dun-colored horses are nearly identical to the unfamiliar eye. Each has a dark dorsal stripe, initiating in the center of the forelock and running through the center of the mane, back and tail. Dark bars on the legs and black fetlocks complete the description. They can be ridden English or Western, hunted, or driven in shows, parades and down country roads.
Paso Fino (Breed – closed stud book)
The Paso FIno is a small gaited horse. Originally from Spain, they are now bred around the world. It is the lateral four-beat gait that distinguishes the Paso Fino . As it moves, the horse's feet fall in a natural lateral pattern instead of the more common diagonal pattern. Rather than trotting, causing that seat thumping bounce that can be unpleasant for horse and rider, the Paso Finn's medium speed is a corto, during which the rider is reassuringly seated.
The basic gaits of the Paso Fino in order of speed are the paso fino, paso corto, and paso largo. They also walk and canter. These are not trained movements, but are natural to the horse from the moment of its birth. Paso Fino owners pride themselves in the naturalness of their animals.
The Paso Fino generally ranges in size from 13.2 hands to 15.2 hands. Colors run the spectrum with a variety of markings from chestnut, bay, palomino, black, grey and roan to pinto.
Watch the gaited paso fino in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP2dTIAikTc
Pony of the Americas (Breed - open stud book)
The Pony of the Americas was the result of a breeder who combined shetland ponies with appaloosas. To be registered as a POA, strict guidelines are followed. The pony had to be between the height limits of 44 inches to 52 inches. The head was to be small and dished as the Arab; the body was to be muscled as the Quarter Horse; and the coloring had to be Appaloosa, visible at 40 feet. This was to be a breed for children to ride and show. Adults could only show the animals at halter or with a cart. They must also be gentle and easy to train.
Percheron (Breed - closed stud book)
In the early 19th century the French government established a stud at Le Pin for the development of army mounts. In 1823, a horse named Jean Le Blanc was foaled in Le Perche and all of today's Percheron bloodlines trace directly to this horse.
Thousands of Percherons were imported to America in the last half of the 19th century, and importations continued up until World War II. The Percheron quickly became the favorite of both the American farmer and the teamster who moved freight on the nation’s city streets. The Percheron was so popular that by 1930, the government census showed that there were three times as many registered Percherons as the other four draft breeds combined.
Following World War II, the invention of the modern farm tractor nearly made the breed extinct. As America modernized and mechanized, the Percheron was all but forgotten. However, a handful of farmers, including many Amish, dedicated to the preservation of the breed, kept it alive through the next twenty years of the draft horse depression.
The 1960's, saw a renaissance in the draft horse business as Americans rediscovered its usefulness. Percherons are now back on small farms and working in the forest. Thousands of Percherons are used for recreation such as hayrides, sleigh rides and parades.
Percherons are shown in competition hitching and halter classes at many state and county fairs across the country. Percherons are used in advertising and promotion of other businesses. They are a common sight on many streets as the carriage business flourishes in many of our larger cities.
Quarter Horse (Breed - open stud book)
The American Quarter Horse is an American breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances. Its name came from its ability to outdistance other breeds of horses in races of a quarter mile or less. The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States today, and the American Quarter Horse Association is the largest breed registry in the world, with more than 5 million American Quarter Horses registered. A true Quarter Horse must be in the registry and parentage can be other than a quarter horse.
The American Quarter Horse is well known both as a race horse and for its performance in rodeos, horse shows and as a working ranch horse. The compact body of the American Quarter Horse is well-suited to the intricate and speedy maneuvers required in reining, cutting, working cow horse, barrel racing, calf roping, and other western riding events, especially those involving live cattle. The American Quarter Horse is also shown in driving, jumping and dressage.
Rocky Mountain Horse (Breed – closed stud book)
The basic characteristics are of a medium-sized horse of gentle temperament with an easy ambling four beat gait. Because of its cold blooded nature, it tolerated the winters in Kentucky with a minimum of shelter. For these reasons, in small groups, the breed was preserved, sustained and gradually increased in this area.
The established characteristics for the breed are: (1) The horse must be of medium height from 14.2 to 16 hands, a wide chest sloping 45 degrees on the shoulder with bold eyes and well shaped ears. (2) The horse must have a natural ambling four beat gait (single foot or rack), with no evidence of pacing. When the horse moves you can count four distinct hoof beats which produce a cadence of equal rhythm just like a walk, left hind, left fore, right hind, right fore. This is a naturally occurring gait present from birth that does not require training aids or action devices. (3) It must be of good temperament and easy to manage. (4) All Rocky Mountain Horses® have a solid body color. Facial markings are acceptable so long as they are not excessive. There may not be any white above the knee or hock.
Watch the Rocky Mountain Horse’s gait here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrVsy3BdWgk
Saddlebred (Breed – closed stud book)
American Saddlebreds have been successful in most equine disciplines from cow horses to jumpers, dressage to carriage horses. If conditioned and trained properly, Saddlebreds are capable of almost any task they are asked to perform.
This breed has a long and proud history, from the battlefield at Gettysburg to the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, and a tremendous legacy of service in between. The creation of man and nature in concert, the American Saddlebred Horse is truly "The Horse America Made." Saddlebreds are shown in breed specific competitions using the “saddleseat” style of riding. They are also popular driving horses.
Shetland (Breed – closed stud book)
Perhaps the oldest breed of horse in Britain is the Shetland Pony. Named after the islands where it originated, it is now one of the most popular ponies in the world. The little Shetland is probably so shaggy because it was conditioned by its environment. The Shetland Islands, lying off the northern coast of Scotland, are mostly barren and have a harsh climate. For many centuries the Shetland Pony lived in the open, protected from the elements only by this thick hair, long mane, and forelocks. The Shetland Islanders domesticated the ponies to do useful work for them. The pony carried peat down from the bogs to the cottages for use as fuel. They also hauled seaweed up from the shore to the fields to be used as fertilizer.
The Shetland is probably the strongest equine relative to its size, yet even the stallions are gentle and docile. The body of the British Shetland is full with short, muscular legs. It has substantial mane, forelock, and tail. Coloring varies by the season. Many colors are seen in this breed, the most common being black and dark brown. Shetlands are now mostly pets, but compete in weight-pulling events, are shown in halter classes, and put to small vehicles for driving. It stands on an average of 9.3 hands, and does not exceed 10.2 hands.
Shire (Breed – closed stud book)
When the demand for draft horses developed in our country, the Shires of England became one of the primary sources for the improvement of equine stock.
An American horseman from that period, a dealer in several breeds and an acknowledged expert, had this to say about the Shire. "I have had opportunity for extended personal observations and inquiry as to the result of crossing them on native American mares, as well as on the grades and crosses of other breeds, and the evidence is of unqualified satisfaction. They have been found competent to transmit and impress their own characteristics with remarkable certainty, and the name "Shire Horse" had become a synonym for strength, constitution, energy, and endurance."
Standardbred (Breed – closed stud book)
The Standardbred horse is considered to be the fastest harness horse in the world. Harness racing has been a passion in the United States since the early 1800's. The breed gains its name from the fact that a horse must meet a certain "standard" of either timed speed at the mile or breeding in order to be properly registered. The increased brilliance of the Standardbred breed itself has reduced times for the mile by a minute -- down 30 percent from the original record.
In many respects the Standardbred resembles its ancestor the Thoroughbred. It does not stand as tall, averaging 15.2 hands, although it has a longer body. The head is refined, set on a medium-sized neck. The quarters are muscular yet sleek. The clean hind legs are set well back. Individual Standardbreds tend to either trot or pace. This breed appears in varying colors, although bay, brown, and black are predominant.
Watch a Standardbred pacer in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E1sQhi7Q2E. Notice that unlike trotting, where the diagonal hind limb and fore limb move together, pacing involves moving the hind and forelimb on the same side of the body. The video shows pacing in slow motion at 2:17.
Tennessee Walking Horse (Breed – closed stud book)
Over one hundred years ago, in the Middle Basin of Tennessee, a unique breed was created - the Tennessee Walking Horse. The early settlers of this region who came from Virginia, the Carolinas and other surrounding states, brought with them fine Standardbreds, Morgans, Thoroughbreds, Canadian and Narrangansett Pacers. By combining the traits of these great horse families, the foundation was laid for the Tennessee Walker who developed distinctive qualities of its own.
The most prominent characteristic of Tennessee Walkers is their swift and smooth "running walk." This gait is inherited and cannot be taught to a horse who does not possess it naturally. It is a square four-beat gait with a gliding motion, and a bobbing of the head and swinging of the ears accompany each step. Some Walkers are even known to snap their teeth in time. When performing the running walk, these horses will overstride, placing the back hoof ahead of their forehoof print. Traveling at speeds from 6 to 12 miles per hour, Walkers can sustain this gait for long distances without fatigue to themselves or their passengers.
Tennessee Walkers are also known for two other gaits. They are the "flat-foot walk" which is a slow, bold, and even gait; and the “canter" which is a refined gallop with a slow and high rolling motion. The canter is full of spring, rhythm and grace, and is often referred to as the "rocking chair gait.” All three gaits of the Tennessee Walker are extremely easy on the rider.
The breed is seen in a variety of colors including brown, black, bay, chestnut, roan, palomino, white or gray. Their face, legs and body may also be marked with white. Average height is 15.2. Their manes and tails are usually left long and flowing.
The Walker is a popular pleasure, trail and show horse.
Watch a Walker’s gaits in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWtj5lmxwaE
Thoroughbred (Breed – closed stud book)
The term Thoroughbred describes a breed of horse whose ancestry traces back to three foundation sires -- the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and the Byerly Turk. Named after their respective owners -- Thomas Darley, Lord Godolphin and Captain Robert Byerly -- these three stallions were brought to England from the Mediterranean Middle East around the turn of the 17th century and bred to the stronger, but less precocious, native horse. The result was an animal thatcould carry weight with sustained speed over extended distances, qualities which brought a new dimension to the burgeoning, aristocratically-supported, sport of horse racing.
Four slender legs must carry more than 1,000 pounds of body weight over extended distances, traveling at speeds of 35-40 miles per hour, yet still have the strength and suppleness to respond to changes of pace or direction as dictated by racing conditions. If there is one place where these attributes are reflected, it is the shape and carriage of the head and the look of the eye. The head should be correctly proportioned to the rest of the body, displaying a good flat forehead and wide-set intelligent eyes. Carried relatively low, the head should sit well on a neck which is somewhat longer and lighter than in other breeds.
Power comes from the hindquarters and all-important is that the bone structure of the upper hind leg is such as to make room for long, strong muscling. These driving muscles act between the hip bone and the thigh bone which should be long and the angle it makes with the hip bone wide.
Thoroughbreds destined for the racetrack will have an upper lip tattoo and registration with the American Jockey Club. Thoroughbreds are found in every discipline as the numbers of thoroughbreds in the United States is second only to quarter horses.
Welsh/Cob (Breed – closed stud book)
The pure Welsh pony may be any color: black, gray, bay, roan, cream, or chestnut. He can never be piebald or skewbald.
The founders of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society in 1901, in their wisdom, decided to register and record this ancient breed together with the Welsh Mountain Ponies and the larger Welsh Ponies in the Welsh Stud Book, dividing them into four sections according to height and type. Essentially the description for each section is similar - the typical short Welsh pony head with small ears, the large prominent eyes and open nostrils, the well-laid shoulder, short back and powerful muscular quarters With gay tall carriage - standing on good clean legs with dense bone on sound feet. The characteristic fast trotting action of the Welsh Cob and Pony of Cob Type like that of the Mountain Pony should be true, bold and free, covering the ground with forceful impulsion from the hocks.
Nowadays the Welsh Cob has come back into his own after a long period of disregard and neglect. He has proved himself as the ideal trekking animal - safe, sure-footed and responsive - and for private driving he is unrivaled. A natural jumper, he is also, owing to his tractable and gentle disposition, perfect for the disabled rider.