Outdoor Life

Types of horses

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Horse jumping
Show Hunters are a type of sports horse that perform on a course, jumping over fences
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There are many types of horses - learn about each type and its characteristics.

My grandparents used to breed and race thoroughbreds, and I always loved visiting their ranch. I have fond memories of riding behind my grandfather, hanging on with all my strength while his horse Ink galloped around the corral. I was just a kid at the time, and I had no idea how many dozens of horse breeds there are around the world. The number is overwhelming, but each breed fits into a general category known as a type. Types of horses are groups of breeds that are similar in either the appearance of the horse, or the way the horse is used.


The Warmbloods is a group of sports horse breeds. Draft horses are generally considered cold bloods, and racehorses like Thoroughbreds and Arabians are considered hot bloods. Warmblood breeds include the Irish Sports Horse and the Hanoverian (among others), and are used in competitions. The events in the competitions can be carriage driving, show jumping and dressage. Dressage is a horse competition in which the rider trains the horse in specific ways so that the horse responds instantly and effortlessly to the rider's signals. Dressage tack and apparel is specific to this sport.

Dressage is sometimes called the horse ballet.

Sports Horses

Sports Horses are used for English-style riding competitions or fox hunting. The Field or Fox Hunter can be any breed used for fox hunting, but the horse must have certain characteristics: bravery, a steady temperament and stamina. The horse also needs to be a good and safe jumper. Some of the best Field Hunters are from Ireland.

Show Hunters perform on a course, jumping over fences. Judging is based on the characteristics a horse would need in a fox hunt. Field Hunters need to show more stamina, strength and agility in order to deal with the rugged terrain of a foxhunt. This is not as necessary for Show Hunters, since they compete on a course that is mostly level.

Windsor Greys

Windsor Greys are grey horses bred specifically for use by the Royal Family of Britain. You will see them drawing carriages or coaches in processions, and they sometimes represent the Royal Family in combined driving competitions.

Iberian Horses

The Iberian Horse includes breeds that are native to the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and Portugal. There are seventeen breeds of Iberian Horse 14 from Spain and three from Portugal. This is one of the oldest types, since horses were domesticated on the Iberian Peninsula as far back as 3000 BC.

Draft Horses

Draft (or Draught) Horses are large animals bred specifically for working on farms. They are tall and muscular, live a long time and generally have a patient personality. Many breeds of Draft Horse have feathering hair on their lower legs. Draft Horse breeds include Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons and others.

Harness Horses

Harness Horses are also bred for pulling, but for pulling light carriages as opposed to heavy pulling on farms. Harness Horses include the Cleveland Bay and the Hackney.


A Cob is any small, stout horse with a steady temperament that is used for everyday riding. This is a term used generally in the United Kingdom.

Baroque Horses

The term Baroque when referring to horses indicates descendants of breeds from the Middle Ages. These horses are beautiful, having an arched neck, strong hindquarters, and thick manes and tails. Baroque Horses include the breeds Andalusian and Lipizzan and are well suited for dressage.


Thoroughbreds are horses that are bred for racing. The modern Thoroughbred that we know today traces back to the 17th century, when Arabian stallions were bred with English mares. They are fast runners, and they are generally spirited and even high-tempered.

The horse has a long history of being used by humans for work and for pleasure riding. Each of the types of horses has its own unique characteristics, and they are all magnificent animals.

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