Know what are the major groups and types of horses. Find out how to differentiate one horse breed from another.
Watching horses speed through the tracks and compete in tournaments that show their skills is fun. However, since horse races finish within a few minutes that they started, getting to know their breed is difficult. Especially since there are horses that are hard to distinguish from the other because of the small details that differentiate them.
Recognizing them is especially harder since there are over 350 breeds of horses in the world. This includes the three Japan horse breeds native to the country. However, there are three traits you can use to identify one horse from another. These are:
- Size and weight
Additionally, they are categorized in three major groups which are: light horses, draft horses, and warmbloods.
Major Groups of Horse Racing Breeds
Light horses are the ones you often see in the horse races. This is because they are agile and fast on their feet. They are lean-legged and athletic which makes it possible to train them in different disciplines. They usually weigh under 1,500 pounds because of their structure.
Some of the disciplines that light horses go through when they are older are:
- Working the cattle
- Pulling light carriages
- Pleasure riding.
Light horses are generally known as hot-blooded. This is because they usually have high energy and have an excitable nature.
Differentiating light horses from one another is easier as well if you pay attention to the job they normally have. This means they follow a certain “type” that makes it easier to get to know them. The different types are:
The stock type horse can be found doing farm work like pulling the carts because of their build. They have large muscles in their shoulders, hindquarters, and forearms. Additionally, they have medium-length legs and short strong backs meant to carry heavy things.
Stock horses can move quickly and are best used for short-distance sprints. They can be used to help on the farm, become a pleasure horse, or for various events like short distance horse racing.
The most common known stock type horses are the Paint, Appaloosa, and American Quarter Horse.
The hunter type of horses are the ones used for a variety of horse racing events. This includes eventing, dressage, fox hunting, show jumping, and competitive driving. They are commonly known as sport horses.
This type of horse has longer and leaner necks and build well-suited for competitions. Their necks are noticeably higher than a stock horse because they are built slightly upward and leans forward. Also, they have lean and smooth muscles.
Additionally, sport horses have huge stamina that makes it easy for them to run long distances.
These horses usually have English style saddles while hunters and jumpers have forward seat saddles. Meanwhile dressage horses have a saddle made specifically for them.
The saddle type of horse is more refined compared to the hunter and stock type. They have lighter bones and can be easily controlled by a jockey. They are typically built for pleasure riding and showing because of this. A saddle type horse’s legs are also longer compared to their bodies.
Saddle horses are ridden with a park saddle or flat saddle. However, the saddle is changed into a cut-back or Lane Fox show saddle when they are used for showing.
The common saddle type horses are Morgan, Arabian, and American Saddlebred. The Racking Horses and Tennessee Walking Horses also fits in this category despite their different build and gait.
Draft horses popularized the term horsepower. This is because they have the ability to pull and carry heavy loads almost twice their weight. They are otherwise known as heavy horses.
You can easily recognize them because they are taller and have larger muscles than light horses. Their average height is about 16 to 19 hands and they generally weigh 635 to 910 kg.
Despite their huge muscles, they have a calmer and more obedient attitude compared to light horses. This is why they are often called cold-blooded horses.
The most common draft horses are the Dutch Draft, Shire, and Russian Heavy Draft.
Despite their name, warmblood horses are a major group on their own. Although their qualities suggest that they are mixed from light and heavy horses, they are not.
They are taller with more refined muscles compared to light horses. They have power, strength, and stamina to run long distances and pace themselves out. Additionally, they have high energy best suited in riding and other events. These horses are commonly used for dressage, driving, and various events.
The most famous warmblood horses are Trakhener, Holsteiner, and Hanoverian.
Using these categories, it is easier to know what the breed of a horse is. All you have to consider are their physical qualities, temperament, and other characteristics. No need to worry because while some horses look similar to each other, there are still a few differences. Getting to know what breed a horse is, at first sight, is possible once you get used to it. You can easily know the breed when you are already familiar with their characteristics.
Popular Horse Breeds Around the World
There are a lot of horse breeds used for horse racing because of their various qualities. However, some of the most common breeds used in the race tracks are Thoroughbred, Arabian, and American Quarter Horse.
The Thoroughbred horse is generally used for horse racing because they are tall, slim, and athletic. They are hot-blooded and has both agility and speed.
Their height usually ranges from 15.2 to 17 hands (157 to 173 cm). Their fur colours can vary. However, good quality Thoroughbreds are considered to have a chiselled head with a long neck, deep chest, and short back. Their legs are long and lean with good hindquarters.
Arabian horses are considered to be the most recognizable horse breed in the world. This is because of their finely chiselled bone structure, arched neck, and high-carried tail. They are also known as the oldest breed in the world because they have been discovered up to 4,500 years ago.
They typically weigh from 800 to 1,000 lb or 360 to 450 kg. Their height ranges from 14.1 to 15.1 hands or 145 to 155 cm.
They are used for a variety of disciplines like horse racing and showcases. However, they are the breed best used for endurance riding because of their large stamina, agility, and speed.
American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed in the United States. They are best used for short-distance sprints because they are a stock type. This breed also has the largest registry in the world with the American Quarter Horse Association. In 2014, it had over 3 million horses registered.
This breed has a short and refined head with a well-muscled body. It also has a broad chest and powerful hindquarters.
The American Quarter Horse is also used in different events besides racing. They can be found in horse shows, rodeos, and riding events like barrel racing.