Horse Breed Classifications


In our earlier blogs we’ve already touched upon the fact that humans and horses have a symbiotic relationship that has heavily impacted both species. One of the legacies of this relationship is in the diversity of horse breeds we have to this day. Like dogs, humans developed horses for specific purposes. We molded horse through selective breeding before we could even comprehend genetics. Understanding these breed classifications is to better grasp individual horse characteristics, potential training, and more. This will also come in handy if you find yourself looking to adopt or work with horses. Below are a few breed categories and descriptions.


Gated breeds refer to horses that are primarily classified based on their natural movement. As indicated in the name, these horses have a particular gate: a kind of amble or walk-run. Several breeds might even display another unique gate to their breed. Some specific gated breeds include Tennessee Walkers, American Saddlebred, the Peruvian Paso, and others.


Another breed category is stock horse. These are working horses, bred to herd cattle on ranches or in open ranges. In addition to ranch tasks, these horses are also heavily featured in western riding sports and thus mostly trained and ridden in the western style. These horses are known for their physical hardiness, speed, and agility. Probably the most popular and iconic of the stock horse breeds is the American Quarter Horse. Quarter Horses are lauded for their speed and well-muscled frames that really highlight the stock horse standard. Several of our own team are quarter horses, including Sadie and Polo. In fact, Polo was originally a ranch horse before coming to us.


Warmblood horse breeds are horses whose roots lie in Europe. The title does not actually refer to the temperature of their blood, but more likely a reference to their endurance.  These horses probably were developed by breeding heavier draft or war horses with smaller breeds from the east. The result was a horse type that is sturdy but nimble, and more slender in the head and body-frame then the massive draft horses. These horses are also prized in sporting events such as dressage and even hunting. Warmblood horse breeds include: Apaloosa, Dutch Warmblood, Missouri Fox Trotter, and more.


Hotblood breeds tend to be fiery and somewhat temperamental (hence the name). These horses originated from the east in warmer climates. The hotbloods are known for having smaller bodies but boasting incredible speed. This makes them ideal for racing. They also tend to have great endurance, a carryover from life in arid locations. One of the most noted hotblood breed is the Thoroughbred, the quintessential race horse- yet these horses also have warmblood ancestry too. One of the oldest horses, and the chief hotblood breed, is the Arabian horse whose speed and sleek body heavily influenced the development of thoroughbreds and other breeds.


Last but certainly not least are the massive draft horses. These breeds are distinguishable by their immense size and thick winter coats. Draft horses are the tallest and strongest of the horse breeds, bred to take on difficult tasks such as plowing, hauling various goods, and even coach transportation. While large, draft horses are also characterized as having a very calm nature and are typically easy to work with. Budweiser still has Clydesdale draft horses as their mascot to this very day! Millie is our own draft horse at Happy On Hooves.


Do you have a favorite horse breed or type? Leave a comment below to tell us about it. As spring begins to usher in warmer weather don’t wait to reserve your next ride on our trail. Be sure to bring your family and friends, we encourage group rides! Check out the main page to schedule your rides.

Please reload