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20 Most Popular Horse Breeds In The World

If you have never owned a horse for the first time or are an experienced rider and want to add to your equestrian family, you need to think about what breed would suit you and your needs the best. Breeds are bred with certain characteristics. It made me wonder about the most popular horse breeds worldwide.

20 Popular Horse Breeds:

  1. American Quarter
  2. Arabian
  3. Andalusian
  4. Thoroughbred
  5. Akhal Teke
  6. Clydesdale
  7. Appaloosa
  8. Shire
  9. Warmblooded
  10. Friesian
  11. Standardbred
  12. Shetland Pony
  13. Morgan
  14. Mustang
  15. Percheron
  16. Belgian
  17. Marwari
  18. Tennesee Walking
  19. American Saddlebred
  20. Miniature

When looking for the horse that suits you best, keep in mind the most popular horses are not the horses with the least amount of maintenance. I did some research and spoke to some experts about the most popular horse breeds and decided to share what I found. Here are the

20 most popular horse breeds in the world.

Breeds, Classifications, And Types Of Horses

Throughout the centuries and through selective breeding, we have learned to develop certain breeds of horses with specific and desirable characteristics, like color, size, and speed. After a few generations, there were breeds to suit almost every need, everything from racehorses to workhorses.


Horses can be classified or grouped in several different ways. For example, horses are grouped as light, pony, and draft according to build, size and weight. Within these groups, you can divide the breeds further by use, such as racing, driving, jumping, riding, warmblooded, coldblooded, and utility.

20 Most Popular Horse Breeds In The World

With over 350 different horse breeds worldwide, you should know the ones most people like the most. Here are 20 of the most popular horse breeds in the world.

1. American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter horse is one of the most popular horses globally. This breed was originally bred from English thoroughbreds and Native American Chickasaw hoses in the 1600s. They are agile horses that are perfect for first-time owners or seasoned equestrians.

The American Quarter horse is known for its speed, agility, loyalty, and gentle nature. Its name comes from its great speed across distances of a quarter-mile or less and has the world’s largest breed registry.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:The American Quarter Horse
Height:14 – 16 hands or 56-inches – 64-inches
Weight:948 – 1205 pounds or 428 – 547 kg
Best for:Rance work, shows, racing, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 26 years
Country of origin:USA

2. Arabian Horse

The Arabian is the oldest horse breed in the world. Its lineage can be traced back as far as 3000 B.C, and several subsequent horse breeds can trace their lineage back to the Arabian, like the Morgans, Appaloosa, and Andalusians. These horses are loyal, gentle, but spirited, so they might be better suited to seasoned equestrians.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:The Arabian
Height:14 – 16 hands or 56-inches – 64-inches
Weight:802 – 1002 pounds or 368 – 452 kg
Best for:Horse racing, endurance riding, trail riding, eventing
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:Arabian Peninsula

3. Andalusians

Andalusians were originally bred as warhorses. They are powerful, spirited horses and best suited for experienced equestrians or trained beginners. They are known for their intelligence, docile and fast learning nature. Despite their popularity, there are less than 200 000 of this breed in the world.

Average Breed Features:

Height:15 – 15.1½ hands or 60-inches – 62.4-inches
Weight:906 – 1126 pounds or 411 – 511 kg
Best for:Events, showjumping, dressage, leisure and trail riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 26 years
Country of origin:Andalusia Spain

4. Thoroughbred

Thoroughbreds are the most popular racing horse in America. Known for its agility, speed, and strong spirit, it’s the perfect horse for seasoned equestrians and first-time horse owners. Thoroughbred horses were originally bred during the 17th and 18th centuries in England. Today, there are millions of thoroughbreds globally.

Average Breed Features:

Height:15 – 17 hands or 68-inches – 64-inches
Weight:998 – 1302 pounds or 452 – 590 kg
Best for:Showjumping, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 36 years
Country of origin:England

5. Akhal Teke

This ancient breed is thought to have similar roots to the well-known Arabian horse breed. They were bred in the Karakum deserts of Turkmenistan, where they were exposed to extreme water shortages and weather conditions. This breed is best suited for experienced equestrians.

They are known for their athleticism and are often compared to grayhounds in speed and build.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Akhal Teke
Height:14 – 16 hands or 56-inches – 64-inches
Weight:901 – 1003 pounds or 408 – 454 kg
Best for:Showjumping, long-distance horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:19 – 21 years
Country of origin:Turkmenistan

6. Clydesdale

Clydesdale horses were introduced into America in the late 18th century. They were used to complete tasks that required brute strength and size. These formidable horses are perfect for beginners and seasoned equestrians.

They are known not only for their strength and size but for their loyalty, calm and gentle nature. They are often used as trail horses or as therapy horses.

Average Breed Features:

Height:16 – 18 hands or 64-inches – 72-inches
Weight:1602 – 2402 pounds or 726 – 1090 kg
Best for:Driving, leisure riding, used as drum horses in parades, workhorses, exhibitions, and more
Average life expectancy:19- 26 years
Country of origin:Scottland

7. Appaloosa

The Nez Perce Native American people bred the Appaloosa for hunting. These horses are known for their versatility and can work in the fields with other livestock or as endurance racers. The most memorable feature of this horse breed is the beautiful leopard-like spots on its coat. This breed is perfect for beginners or seasoned equestrians.

Average Breed Features:

Height:14 – 15 hands or 56-inches – 60-inches
Weight:952- 1202 pounds or 431 – 545 kg
Best for:English and Western riding, livestock work, endurance racing, horse raising, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:29 – 31 years
Country of origin:USA (Nez Perce Native Americans)

8. Shire Horse

The Shire horse is one of the most popular but rare horse breeds. Especially known for their size and are recognized as the largest horse breed. Shire horses are similar in appearance to Clydesdale horses, only bigger.

Originally bred as work and leisure horses, the Shire horse is on the list of endangered livestock horses. They are the perfect horse breed for a first-time horse owner to a seasoned equestrian.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Shire Horse
Height:15 – 18  hands or 68-inches – 72-inches
Weight:1802 – 2402 pounds or 817 – 1089 kg
Best for:Cart pulling, leisure riding, used on farms as alternative transport and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:England

9. Warmbloods

Warmblood is a term used for horse breeds that have a distinct personality type. They are usually a mix of the spirited Thoroughbred (Hot blooded) and have the calm and cool demeanor of a workhorse such as the Clydesdale (Cold-blooded).

These horses are used primarily in competitions, races, and various activities. These breeds are very popular in European countries.

Average Breed Features:

Height:15 – 17 hands or 64-inches – 64-inches
Weight:1000 – 1400 pounds or 453 – 635 kg
Best for:Showjumping, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 30 years
Country of origin:Canada, USA, England

10. Friesian

The Friesian was bred in the Netherlands and Germany mainly as a Sporthorse. Their European background has imprinted the Friesian breed with a commanding and majestic presence and are renowned for their beauty.

The horses of this breed are fast and agile but have a gentle and docile side as well. They are known for their beauty and mischievous behavior, and playful nature.

Well suited for riders of all ages, they are perfect for first-time horse owners and seasoned equestrians alike. Friesians have recently gained popularity in trail riding and competitons like showjumping and dressage. They also make great companion horses or horses for recreational activities.

Average Breed Features:

Height:14.2 – 17 hands or 58-inches – 68-inches
Weight:1200 – 1300 pounds or 544 – 589 kg
Best for:Showjumping, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, trail riding, and more
Average life expectancy:14 – 16 years
Country of origin:Netherlands and Germany

11. American Standardbred Horse

These horses are best known for their running speed and trotting speed. They were bred for agility and speed. This breed might even be the fastest. Trotting American Standardbreds have been clocked trotting up to 30mph.

Originally used as competition horses in harness and carriage racing, they are the perfect horse for endurance racing and speed games. American Standardbred horses were bred using established speed and endurance horse breeds including horse breeds like the Canadian Pacer.

They have a calm and relaxed demeanor and are highly suited for beginners, racing equestrians, and they are good competition horses. These horses are suited to all tasks that require speed and agility.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Standardbred Horse
Height:14 – 17 hands or 56-inches – 68-inches
Weight:802 – 1202 pounds or 362 – 544 kg
Best for:Harness racing, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:USA

12. Shetland Pony

The Shetland Pony is known for being a hard-working, gentle breed with a little spice in its personality. These smaller horses were used as workhorses on farms in Scottland. They made great companion horses to the nobiles of the time.

Shetland Ponies were introduced to America in the late 1800s. They are still great companions for children and are widely thought to be fantastic horses to teach children how to ride a horse. The Shetland is also known to be a good therapy horse that will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Shetland Pony
Height:7 – 11.5 hands or 28-inches – 46-inches
Weight:402 – 452 pounds or 182 – 205 kg
Best for:Leisure riding, teaching children to ride, recreational riding
Average life expectancy:29 – 31 years
Country of origin:Scottland

13. Morgan Horse

Morgan horses originated in America and were bred primarily for farm work in Colonial times. It’s known for its strength and endurance. This surefooted horse is great for trail riding and can easily ride the toughest trails. After years of selective breeding, Morgan Horses could be found in America by the 1700s.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned equestrian, Morgan horses are the perfect horse to get. The Morgan horse is also used in competitions and endurance races. It stands as the official horse breed of Vermont.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Morgan Horse
Height:14 – 15 hands or 56-inches – 60-inches
Weight:902 – 1102 pounds or 409 – 500 kg
Best for:Showjumping, endurance racing, dressage, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:USA

14. Mustang

The Mustang is probably one of the most recognized horse breeds apart from the Arabian. The breed originated in America when Spanish horses were brought to America. Some escaped the herds and lived life free and in the wilds of America. Native Americans prized them for their spirit and wild nature.

Today you can be sure that Mustangs are one of the toughest horse breeds and, when properly trained, work well on rances, trial rinding, and some competitions or sports events. This is not a horse breed suited to first-time horse owners. They can be hard to train and need the guidance of a seasoned horse rider or trainer.

Average Breed Features:

Height:14 – 15 hands or 56-inches – 60-inches
Weight:800 – 810 pounds or 362 – 367 kg
Best for:Ranch work, trail riding, dressage, and more
Average life expectancy:39 – 41 years
Country of origin:USA

15. Percheron Horse

The Percheron is considered one of the biggest horse breeds in the world. While not much is known about this breed’s origins, they were later used as cavalry horses. By the early 1900s, the Percheron horse was the most popular draft horse in America and around the world. They have the versatility to do almost any kind of work and can be used in competitions as well.

Today the Percheron is a popular horse well suited for dressage, farm work, carriage rides, and much more. They are the ideal choice for first-time horse owners or seasoned equestrians. They are loyal and gentile enough to be a learning horse for children and adults.

Average Breed Features:

Height:15 – 19 hands or 60-inches – 76-inches
Weight:1802 – 2602 pounds or 817 – 1180 kg
Best for:Show jumping, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:France

16. Belgian Horse

These huge horses were used as war horses and are thought to be directly related to the “great warhorses” of the mid-evil times that carried knights into battle. These days the enormous Belgian horse is used in cart pulling, carriage rides, and driving sport. They make great horses for first-time owners and seasoned equestrians.

Belgians are gentle giants sporting feathering hair down their long legs and muscular build. The Belgian horse has a willingness to work hard and please its owner. You will find some of these big horses working on family farms and ranches.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Belgian Horse
Height:16 – 17 hands or 64-inches – 68-inches
Weight:1802 – 2202 pounds or 817 – 1000 kg
Best for:Ranch work, farm work, leisure riding, and more
Average life expectancy:19 – 25 years
Country of origin:Belgium

17. Marwari Horse

The Marwari is one of the rarest horses on this list. It’s most commonly known for its unique curl-shaped ears. The Marwari is originally from India, and you will only a few of the Marwari outside of India. They are considered one of the rarest and popular horse breeds. In India they are used in ceremonies.

These horses are ideal for parades, sports events and have a gentile and docile nature. The Marwari is best suited for beginners or seasoned equestrians. They make a good addition to anyone who likes sports events like polo.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Marwari Horse
Height:14 – 16 hands or 56-inches – 64-inches
Weight:749 – 1001 pounds or 339 – 454 kg
Best for:Dressage, sports events like polo, ceremonial purposes
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:India

18. Tennesse Walking Horse

Tennesse walking horses were originally bred as workhorses on ranches and farms. Agile horses like the Tennesse walking horse are among the best breeds for farmers in rough terrain and overall use. Today the Tennesse walking horse can be found in sporting events, competitions, and trail riding.

They are perfect for first-time horse owners and seasoned equestrians. They have a docile and gentle nature that makes them ideal for work or leisure riding.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Tennessee Walking Horse
Height:14.2 – 17 hands or 56-inches – 68-inches
Weight:902 – 1202 pounds or 409 – 545 kg
Best for:Showjumping, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, ranch and farm work, and more
Average life expectancy:29 – 31 years
Country of origin:USA

19. American Saddlebred Horse

The American Saddlebred Horse is a true American-made horse. These wonderful steads are found throughout American history, being used as battle horses in the Civil war, on plantations, and farms. They are known for their gentle nature and feisty spirit; these horses are well suited to competitions, racing, and leisure activities.

American Saddlebred Horses are the perfect companion to beginner riders and seasoned equestrians alike. They make great horses for trail riding, farm, and ranch work and are known to be suited for almost any activity that you can think of needing a horse for. They are still considered one of the most popular horses across the world.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:American Saddlebred Horse
Height:15 – 16 hands or 60-inches – 64-inches
Weight:1000 – 1200 pounds or 453 – 544 kg
Best for:Showjumping, horse racing, dressage, leisure riding, competitions, and more
Average life expectancy:24 – 31 years
Country of origin:USA

20. Miniature Horse

The history around these mini horses is fascinating. They originated in Europe through years of selective breeding small ponies and horse breeds, including the Shetland pony. They became popular with European nobility as a novelty because of their small stature.

They don’t have short legs and a stocky body but are correctly proportioned and look like a full-sized horse just shrunk down. Because of their small size, they were popular to use in mines to pull mini carts. They are not a breed that you can ride but are fantastic companions for children and adults alike.

There are some competitions where these mini ponies are raced without riders. Lead-line, obstacle running, showjumping and driving are some of the competitions these small horses compete in. Besides the competitions, they are considered excellent therapy animals.

Average Breed Features:

Breed:Miniature Horse
Height:8.5 – 9.5 hands or 34-inches – 38-inches
Weight:150- 350 pounds or 68 – 163 kg
Best for:Not a riding horse, great as a companion horse for children and adults alike
Average life expectancy:30 – 36 years
Country of origin:Europe


With over 350 horse breeds worldwide, it’s easy to see why there would be so many popular breeds. Horses have been used to aid us in our work, as companions, and for sport. Breeds like the Tennessee Walking horse are true American horses and are very versatile.

They are amazing animals to have. Horse breeds such as the noble Miniature Horse were kept as a novelty in Europe but are one of the most sought after and popular horse breeds. With so many stunning breeds across the globe, it can be hard to choose the perfect horse for you.


Anrie Diedericks

I've been around horses since I was 6 years old and started competing at the age of 9. Horses are my greatest passion and I am thrilled to be able to share my 23 (and counting) years of experience and knowledge with you.

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