How well do you know your horse breeds? Take this quiz to find out.
Most people appreciate the beauty of horses. But enjoying them and being able to identify them are two different things. For most of us, our ability to identify a horse extends only as far as saying the horse is brown, black, spotted, etc. The most notable exception is the Appaloosas we all saw in the old Westerns on television and the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Clydesdales are draft, horses, meaning they haul things. They are particularly large and have feathering on their lower legs, which are two of the features that make them so recognizable. They are often used for work on farms and were used to pull wagons that delivered beer to pubs, which is likely what made Budweiser first use them in their advertising.
Anheuser-Busch actually has several teams of Clydesdale horses that travel the country for events. Each team consists of ten horses, eight that work the appearance, and two extras. The company owns about 250 of these magnificent horses total. The original team of horses was presented to Busch Sr by his son in 1933, and the rest is history.
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Theorized to be the oldest breed in the world, Arabians were constant companions of the first documented breeders of the Arabian horse, the Bedouin people--nomadic tribesmen of Arabia who relied on the horse for survival.
The Shire is the most popular draft horse in the United Kingdom. The Shire made its first appearance on British soil in its original form of the Great Horse, which was brought by William the Conqueror in 1066.
The wild wind-swept hills and valleys in Wales developed the characteristics of the Welsh Pony. Through the years, they were used by hill farmers and shepherds, landowners and deliverymen. In 1901, the Welsh Pony and Cob Society was established in Wales.
The Spanish introduced horses to Mexico in the 1500s, and spotted horses have been depicted in images as far back as prehistoric cave paintings. However, it wasn’t until the 1700s when horses first reached Northwest America that horses with Appaloosa coloring gained recognition in the United States.
The Belgian Draft Horse was developed in the fertile pastures of Belgium. It was also there that the forefather of all draft horses was first bred—a heavy black horse used as knights’ mounts called the Flemish.
In 1519, the explorer Hernando Cortes carried two horses described as having pinto markings on his voyage. This is the first known description of such horses in America. By the early 1800s, horses with Paint coloring were well-populated throughout the West.
Although spotted horses seem to have originated with American Indian horses, the distinctive two-toned coat pattern seen on the Pinto horse probably came to North America through Arabian and Spanish stock that accompanied early explorers.
After World War II, Dutch farms were becoming mechanized and horses were no longer needed to work the land, but two lighter farm horses, the Gelderlander and the Groningen, were used to help establish a new breed.
Off the coast of Scotland lie the Shetland Islands, the native habitat of the smallest pony in Britain, the Shetland Pony. It’s thought that the breed evolved on the Scandinavian tundra and was possibly brought over by Viking raiders.
The Warlander came from the crossing of Iberian and Friesian horses. The name came from the late twentieth-century classical Sporthorse Stud in Western Australia. This breed was named after the association's veterinarian, Dr. Warwick Vale.
The Noriker horse is one of the oldest mountain draft horses in Europe, originating in the foothills of the highest Austrian mountains, Grossglockner, and being indigenous to the Central Alpine regions. Initially used for transporting goods from one place to the other, this horse is immensely popular in the present time because of its pleasant temperament, surefootedness, and agility.
The Cleveland Bay developed in the Cleveland area of Northern Yorkshire in northeast England. In medieval times, the Cleveland Bay was valued as a packhorse for the church, carrying goods to and from various monasteries and convents.
The Connemara Pony is Ireland’s only native breed. It comes from and is named for an area on the west coast of Ireland, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Galway Bay; a wilderness of bogs and rugged moorland.
The Portuguese Lusitano was officially created in the late 1960s, after Portuguese breeders opened a studbook that would set their Andalusians apart from Spanish Andalusians. The official name of this breed is Puro Sangue Lusitano, which is the Latin name for Portugal.
The first Pony of the Americas (POA) was born in the spring of 1954 after an Arabian/Appaloosa mare was accidentally bred with a Shetland stallion. The owner offered to sell the pregnant mare to a neighbor, lawyer, and Shetland pony breeder Les Boomhower.
The Paso Fino’s earliest ancestry includes the Barb, Andalusian, and the gaited Spanish Jennet, which came to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) with Christopher Columbus to be used as conquistadors’ mounts throughout the 1500s.
The Anglo-Arabian possesses distinct traits of both the Arabian and Thoroughbred. The Arabian intelligence, refinement, and stamina mix well with the Thoroughbred size and speed. The Anglo-Arabian is an aristocratic athlete with competitive clout.
The Icelandic Horse was most likely brought to Iceland by the Vikings in the 9th century. Although the breed shares characteristics with the Mongolian horse and the Lyngen or Nordland, little is actually known about its ancestry.
The American Warmblood is known for being alert, calm, energetic, generous, obedient, and willing. As a multi-talented horse, it is commonly used today in dressage, general riding, jumping, and mounted athletics activities.
The Selle Francais or French Saddle Horse is a warmblood type developed in the government stud farms in Le Pin in Normandy, France, in the 1800s.
The Holsteiner is a warmblood horse known for being dependable and relaxed. As a multi-talented horse, it is commonly used today in dressage, endurance riding, general riding, jumping, and work activities.
Although Arabians have been carefully bred for generations, the Fjord horse has one of the longest histories of pure breeding – evidence of over 2,000 years of selective breeding has been found while excavating Viking burial sites – without crossbreeding from other horses.
The Lipizzan’s roots go back to Moorish-occupied Spain, when Spanish-bred horses were considered the optimum cavalry mount. In 1562, Maximillian II brought Spanish horses to the Austrian court. His brother, Archduke Charles II, created another stud at Lipizza by the Adriatic Sea.
With its unusual, gazelle-like appearance, the Akhal-Teke (Ah-cull Tek-y) is an incredibly distinctive breed. Experts say the Akhal-Teke breed is at least 3,000 years old. The Akhal-Teke may be the last remaining strain of the Turkmene, a horse that has existed since 2400 B.C.
The Missouri Fox Trotter is a product of its native Ozark Mountains in Missouri. The breed’s descendants, mainly of Morgan, Thoroughbred, and Arabian blood, arrived in the Ozarks when pioneers settled the area in 1821.
The Irish Sport are eager, enthusiastic horses, known for their stamina and endurance. They are brave and bold with exceptional jumping skills. They are intelligent and generally lively horses, yet calm and very easy to handle.
Buckskin horses have long been a part of television Westerns, including Ben Cartwright’s horse on Bonanza and Trampas’ horse on The Virginian. Buckskin horses have also appeared on the big screen, in Dances with Wolves and The Man from Snowy River (I and II).
The little Falabella is named after the family who created it near Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early 1900s. They crossed tiny Shetland ponies with a small Thoroughbred and kept breeding, using the smallest ponies produced, creating the smallest breed of horse in the world.
The Oldenburg was created in the 17th century through the endeavors of Count Johann XVI von Oldenburg and Count Anton Gunther von Oldenburg to create a grand carriage horse. Small breeding farms throughout the provinces of Oldenburg and East Friesland were developed.
Carolina Marsh Tacky, is a rare and the most endangered breed of horse in the world. It is native to South Carolina and is endangered due to the development of cars and tractors that has replaced horse power.
The Rocky Mountain Horse originated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky in the late 1800s. The breed gets its name from its foundation stallion, a gaited horse from the Rocky Mountains.
The Tennessee Walking Horse is an American original, developed in central Tennessee in the late 1800s. The horse’s genealogy includes a mixture of breeds that settlers brought with them, such as Morgans, Narragansett Pacer, and Canadian Horses.
Like most German warmbloods, the Hanoverian is named for its region of origin: Lower Saxony in northern Germany was formerly the kingdom of Hannover. In 1714, King George I of England—originally the elector of Hannover—sent several English Thoroughbreds to Germany to refine the native stock.
The Canadian Horse has a beautifully arched neck with a long, flowing mane and tail. Its head is refined, with a short forehead and small throatlatch. The chest is deep and the back is short and strong. Long, sloping shoulders and broad hindquarters give way to muscular legs with clean joints and bone structure.
Today, the Standardbred competes in harness racing all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and Europe. The typical racing length is 1 mile, and both trotters and pacers (where horses trot in lateral paired legs rather than diagonal) are raced. Retired racers are favored by the Amish for pulling buggies. They are also retrained under saddle for both English and western disciplines.
The Miniature Horse traces its history back to the 17th century in Europe, when oddities and unusual animals were talking points among nobility. Less refined Minis were employed as “pit ponies,” working and living inside mines. Minis were imported to America in the 1930s to work in the coal mines.
The Haflinger hails from the Southern Tyrolean Mountains of Austria and Northern Italy and is thought to have been there since medieval times. In fact, the horse gets its name from the Tyrolean village of Hafling.
Hailing from the Iberian Peninsula, the Andalusian takes its name from the Province of Andalucia, where it was most famous. This living antiquity is purported to be an ancient breed; 20,000-year-old cave drawings show a similar type of horse and Homer mentions the horses in the Illiad (1,100 B.C.).
The American Saddlebred originated from Galloway and Hobbie horses imported from Britain during the early part of America’s history.
Gypsy horses, registered as Gypsy Vanner Horses, Gypsy Cobs, and Gypsy Drum horses, are a relatively new concept to most people, but not to the Romany (gypsy) “Traveller” of Great Britain.
Not many horse lovers have escaped childhood without reading Marguerite Henry’s non-fiction book about Figure, the very first Morgan, owned by school teacher Justin Morgan in West Springfield, Mass., in 1789. This gentle little stallion was given to the school teacher for payment of a debt.
The most amazing feature about the Indian horse called the Marwari (mar-wah-ree) is its curved ears. They often touch or cross in the middle, giving an appearance of a spectacular headdress.
Mustang is a derivative of the Spanish word mesteña, which means wild or stray. Horses roamed America 10,000 years ago but vanished from the landscape until the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century with their horses of Barb decent.
The Percheron developed in the Le Perche region in Normandy in 732 A.D., when Barb horses were left by marauding Moors after their defeat in the Battle of Tours. Massive Flemish horses were crossed with the Barbs to give the Percheron its substance. Arabian blood was also added.
The Friesian is one of Europe’s oldest breeds and gets its name from the Friesland region in the north of the Netherlands. The breed almost became extinct worldwide during the turn of the 20th century, as many Friesians were crossed to other breeds to create a faster horse for trotting races.
Throughout equine history few breeds have impacted the horse world quite like the Thoroughbred. Three foundation sires, the Byerly Turk, the Godolphin Arabian, and the Darley Arabian, were bred to native English horses to create the breed in the early 17th century.
The American Quarter Horse traces its roots to early America, when settlers crossed English horses to those of Spanish ancestry, producing a compact and muscular horse.
Nokota horses are some of the last descendants of the wild horses of North Dakota. These hardy, smart horses lived on the open rangeland among other bands of horses in the western North Dakota badlands.
The Hackney was developed in Great Britain in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and was descendant of the Norfolk Trotter, Yorkshire Roadster, the Arabian, and the Thoroughbred. Their early ancestors are thought to be Friesians.
The Irish Draught Horse is one of the two native equine breeds found in Ireland. Its ancestry is unclear. Thoroughbred stallions may have been put to local mares whose origins were a conglomeration of whatever swam to shore after shipwrecks (perhaps from Spanish galleons) and French and Flemish stock brought by Anglo-Norman invaders.