How Many Horse Breeds are There?

How Many Horse Breeds are There?

The creation of horse breeds is to serve people’s wants and needs. You may be curious to know, how many horse breeds are there?

In the past, horses were for work and transportation. Similarly, today we enjoy their companionship and sports activities. However, we still improve the horse breeds as it has always been for centuries. 

The Original Domestic Horses

The origin of the ancestor of today’s domestic horse is in Eurasia. That is hundreds of centuries ago. Hence the beginning of domesticating horses was approximately sixty centuries ago in the Eurasian Steppe. In addition, a 2017 study shows that modern horses are the descendants of two breeds. That is, the Turkoman horse- similar to the Akhal-Teke breed and the Arabian horse.

Horses spread in the world through theft, gifting, war, and trade. As a result, people started breeding to get desirable characters so that they could meet work requirements. Thus, breeding was for finding characters such as stamina, strength, and speed. Hence, breeders would keep track of the traits and lineage of their horses. 

The studbooks emerged in the 1700s, in which they held the official record of their horse’s pedigree. As a result, numerous types and breeds of horses we see today arose. 

What are the Main Horse Types?

There are two main types: ponies and horses. Ponies are below 14.2 hands tall, while horses are 14.2 hands or more. Furthermore, there are stock horses, driving classes, and draft horses. Their primary purpose is companionship, meat, racing and riding for light horses, hunting, or working livestock. Thus, most horses are more than one of the basic types.

Horse Breeds Development

The development of most horse breeds was when the horses were mainly used as a mode of power and transport. For instance, strong horse breeds like Percheron, Belgian, and Clydesdale were for pulling heavy carts. Other horse breeds development was for racing. These include Thoroughbred and the American Standardbred.

The development of Arabians was for swift rides in the desert. Cleveland and Hackney’s horses breeding was for pulling buggies and carriages. Riders use the Kentucky mountain saddle horses to comfortably and efficiently ride them over mountainous terrain. Some horse breeds like Andalusian and Lipizzaner were in use to carry soldiers during the war. 

Moreover, breeds like the Welsh pony and Shetland pony worked on farms and in mines. In addition, there are also breeds for companionship and entertainment, which include miniature horses and the tiny Falabella. All these horse breeds have their origins from various locations across the world. As such, each era has people developing species that will serve specific needs. That is why there are numerous horse breeds. 

Color Breeds

Some horses qualify for registration because of their color, regardless of their original breed. They have the most desirable and flashy colors like pinto, buckskin, and palomino. There are color breeds with a pedigree component, but some care about the horse’s coat color. Of course, certain horses with documented lineage can register with a color breed registry and breed registry. This way, their value is increased. 

Number of Horse Breeds

How many horse breeds are there? Calculating the exact number of horse breeds is difficult. Most horse types are either blended into other kinds severally or sprouted from other species. Oklahoma State University has a resource named the Breeds of Livestock. Here, they have a list of 217 different horse breeds from Zhemaichu to Abyssinian. Elwyn Hartley Edwards had a horse encyclopedia with a list of more than 150 horse breeds. It includes most ancient species that don’t exist but whose descendants we see today.

Most horse breeds in the encyclopedia are horses whose registries exist. Therefore you can trace the bloodlines to ensure purity. Generally, the horse breed numbers keep increasing. This forces equine lovers to compile the endangered and rarest horse breed data. 

Breeds of The World

There is no exact number of horse breeds in the world. It means that people have manipulated horse genetics to create horses with diverse traits. However, here is a list of common horse breeds around the world.

1. Asia


This horse breed is valued for its intelligence, speed, gentleness, beauty, and stamina. Its development was in the 7th century in Arabia.

Arabian Thoroughbred Horse

Marwari Horse 

The Marwari horse is among the rarest horse breeds. Its origin is in the Marwar of Rajasthan, India.


Bali horses are self-sufficient and quite hardy. They can survive by themselves. You cannot shoe them since they are tough animals. 


It’s a Turkmen horse breed known for its intelligence, endurance, distinctive metallic sheen, and speed.

Przewalski horse

This horse is one of the wild horses found in Mongolia. They are considered ancestors to the domestic horse.

Japanese Native Horses

There are two recognized horses; the Yururi island horse and the Kandachi horse. 


The Yili is a miniature horse from Xinjiang, China.

Vietnamese Hmong horses

They are believed to originate from the Timorean, Sichuan, and Mongolian horses. The Vietnamese Hmong horses have a diminutive size ranging between 10 to 11 hands.

Manipuri Pony

Manipuri pony is a miniature horse from a traditional Indian breed. They originate from Manipur and Assam in north-eastern India.

2. North America

American Bashkir Curly

These horses vary in body types, colors, and sizes but have one curly hair gene. They are believed to originate from Nevada.

American Cream Draft Horse

The development of the Cream Draft horses was in the 20th century in Lowa. They descended from a cream-colored mare.

American Miniature Horse

Miniature horses are elegant and of small equines.

American Morgan Horse

They are famous for their versatility and are used in both Western and English disciplines. Their origin is in the United States.

American Mustang 

Mustangs roam freely in the American West. They are the descendants of horses imported by the Spanish to America. The Mustang is often described as a wild horse. But since they are descendants of a domesticated horse, they are referred to as feral horses. 

American Paint Horse

The horse is well-balanced, strong-boned, and short-coupled with a versatile build. In addition, the horses have a remarkable degree of beauty and refinement, specifically the head and neck. Its coat pattern is the most apparent breed, hence defining the breed. 

American Quarter Horse

The stocky and short Quarter horses have heavy muscular developments like broad and deep chests and tiny wide heads. Besides, they have essential qualities for cutting cattle from herds. These qualities include short-distance speed, fast starting, and stopping. In addition, they have excellent turning ability. 

American Saddlebred 

They have short and strong backs. Unlike most light breeds, they have rounder barrels. The Saddlebreds are descendants of the riding-type horses that existed in the American Revolution era. 

Appaloosa Horse 

These are American horse breeds that were once Spanish horses. They are famous for their spotted coat pattern. The variety has various types of body sizes influenced by horse breeds throughout history. 


The Azteca horse’s origin is in Mexico. It has a subtype in the United States called the American Azteca. They may have any solid color while their subtypes have Paint coloration. This horse is famous for competing in some English disciplines and most Western disciplines. 

Canadian Horse

Canadian horses come from Canada. They are well-muscled and robust and are usually dark-colored. 

Chincoteague Pony

These are wild horses common in Assateague Island. They are feral animals hence descendants of domestic horses that transformed to a wild state.

Colorado Ranger 

This horse breed originates from the high plains of Colorado, United States. They are descendants of two stallions that were imported to the United States from Turkey.

Florida Cracker Horse 

These miniature saddle horses are 13.2 to 15.2 hands tall and weigh between 700 to 1000 pounds. Their origin is in Florida, United States. 

Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse

This breed comes from Florida, United States. Their builds and genetics are similar to most Spanish-style horses.

Kiger Mustang 

This horse breed location is in Oregon, United States.

Missouri Fox Trotter 

The origin is from Missouri, United States. Their development was by settlers of the Ozark Mountains in the 19th century. They transformed into gaited breeds and were appreciated for their smooth gaits, stamina, and stock horse abilities. 

Palomino Horse 

Palomino horses are distinguished by their gold, yellow, or cream coat and silver or white tail and mane. They originate from Spain.

Paso Fino

The Paso Fino has a beautiful appearance, smooth-riding gait, and brilliant presence. Its origin is from Colombia.

Peruvian Paso 

Though new in North America, their origin is South America. The Spanish settlers imported them to Peru four centuries ago. 

Pinto Horse 

Pinto horses have coat colors consisting of large white and other color patches. They originated from the United States. 

Pony of the Americas 

The first development was in the Lowa, United States. 

Rocky Mountain Horse

Rocky Mountain horses are hardy, surefooted, and good-natured. Their origin is the Appalachian Mountains in the United States.

Spanish Mustang

The Spanish Mustang is an American horse breed and descended from Spain. Breeding was during America’s conquest.


Spanish-Norman horses are versatile horses originating from France.


This horse breed was developed in the 1800s in New England. The breeding purpose was for horses that could race, pace, and trot in harness and under saddle.

3. Europe

Belgian Draft Horse

Their origin is Belgium, Europe. Primarily, their breeding purpose was to knights during the war. 


Breton horses are used for heavy farm and draft work, with their origin being France. Their development was from crossing Oriental and European horse breeds.

Don Horse

The horse is one of the oldest Russian riding horses. They originated from Southern Russia over two centuries ago.

Exmoor Pony 

The Exmoor Pony is a British Isles native known as an endangered breed. Wild horses like Potok probably influenced the Exmoor ponies. 

Highland Pony 

Highland ponies are very hardy, great for riding for both adults and children. They originated from Scotland. 

Irish Draught Horse 

The Irish Draught horse is an Ireland breed. Its development was for farm use. 

Spanish Barb 

The Spanish Barb horse results from a cross between the Berber horse or African Barb with the local horses of the Iberian Peninsula.


Thoroughbreds development was in England. They are mainly for jumping and racing. The breed origin is from Barb and Arab horses imported to England in the 3rd century.

Welsh Ponies

Welsh Ponies are breeds from four horse breeds that were closely related. They include cob and pony types originating from Wales, United Kingdom. 

4. South America

Argentine Criollo

Criollo horses are hardy and known for endurance. Their origin is the South American regions of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Chilean horse

This South American breed descended from Spanish horses.

5. Australia

Australian Stock Horse 

Breeding of this horse was for conditions in Australia. As such, they are very hardy. You will appreciate the Australian Stock horse for its excellent temperament, agility, and endurance. 

6. Africa


Their first invention was in Turkey.


The first breeding of Zebra was by the U.S government in the 20th century. Its use was investigating telegony and inheritance. Although they are related to horses, they are not of the same species. However, they are fast and can do up to 65 kph while galloping.


Getting the exact number of horse breeds in the world is almost impossible. However, some types checked out and developed over centuries. It doesn’t matter what you need from a horse, either for hunting, sports, or pleasure riding; there is always a perfect breed for your needs.