For centuries, horses have been one of the most popular domesticated animals. While today, people enjoy riding and racing them, in the past they were domesticated because they were the primary mode of transportation for many.
People from almost every corner of the globe have owned horses for one reason or another, and it is for this reason that there are now so many different breeds. However, all horses fall into one of three main categories: pony, light, and heavy classifications. If you are unfamiliar with horse breeds, this is a good starting place.
From this point, some people like to further classify horses into the subcategories such as draft horses, gaited horses, and warmbloods. So these are terms that you might hear when people talk of horse breeds. But for all intents and purposes, we will stick with the three main categories for this article.
Knowing about these different breeds might give you an idea of what kind of horse will be best for your situation - and will let you in on which horses are good for children, which are good for the whole family to ride, which ones are good for racing, and which ones will help out on the ranch.
The smallest of the popular pony breeds is the Shetland Pony, and for this reason, it is often the first horse given to children. While the Shetland is usually sweet and relaxed, this breed can, on occasion, get feisty. So no matter what breed of pony, children need to be supervised with horses of any kind.
The Connemara Pony, is larger than the Shetland, and for this reason, often makes a great pony for older children. Another good breed for this young adults and young teens is the Welsh Pony, which is just a little bit larger than the Connemara.
People often mistake the Miniature Horse for a pony, but it is not classified as one because it does not have the same characteristics as those of the pony breed. This light breed horse is often a companion for children as well as a guide for the disabled.
One of the most loved horse breeds around falls into the category of Light Horses - the Arabian. These horses are not only attractive, but in general, are also known for being sweet, loving, graceful, and speedy. Everything about this horse seems to be perfect - from its kind nature to its speed and endurance while racing.
A descendent of the Arabian, the Thoroughbred, is another popular light breed. This horse is quite fast, so it makes for a great racing horse. Because of this, this breed of horse can be quite expensive. If you are looking for a horse for the family, though, this might not be the best choice since these can be too fast and dangerous for inexperienced riders.
If you are looking for a horse that could help out on a farm or a ranch rounding up cattle, or for a tough horse that can compete in races and competitions, then you may want a Quarter Horse. This is an American horse breed that got its name for being able to race at a good pace for a quarter of a mile. It is a pretty tough breed, but also good for taking on a leisurely ride.
A smaller horse that is also family-friendly as well as hard working is the Morgan Horse. A man named Justin Morgan, who was amazed by the strength and loving nature of his little horse, developed the Morgan breed. This breed has a strong body with a friendly disposition.
Other popular light horse breeds include the Paint, the Standardbred, the Appaloosa, the Saddlebred, the Tennessee Walking Horse, and the Paso Fino.
There are two types of heavy horses: horses that were once used in battle and draft horses. The warhorses went through tough training to ready them for battle, while the draft horses were used to work on farms or to pull carts and wagons.
The Percheron is a smaller heavy horse, but still quite powerful. This horse breed is intelligent and has a friendly nature, so it is easier to train than others, and can be a good animal for the family or the farm. However, if color is important to you, you might note that it only comes in gray or black.
The most famous of the draft horses is probably the Clydesdale. This attractive horse has been bred to do hard work, but it also has a friendly nature, so it makes for a good horse to ride on, too.
Some other popular draft breeds include the Belgian, and then the rarer Shire and Suffolk Punch breeds.
Of the war horse breeds, the Lipizzaner is the probably most famous. This is most likely because these horses often travel around doing performances for Austrian events.
As you can see, there are many breeds to choose from, and hopefully this will give you some idea of what type you are looking for. The best thing to do, however, is to see how different horses interact with you individually when shopping for a horse for you and possibly for your family.