People who are new to horse appreciation see only that horses are beautiful animals. However, once you start to learn more and look closer, you can see that there are as many different types of horses and you can find them in a variety of colours and sizes as well. There are dozens and dozens of different breeds of horse, each with its own special skills and handling instructions. This article will give you a general overview of horse breeds, how they're classified, and how to identify them.
When you hear about a particular breed of animal, such as a Labrador Retriever dog or a Clydesdale horse, they're talking about pure bred animals. Pure bred animals are animals whose mother and father, and probably its grandparents too, were all members of the same breed. If you were a breeder you could represent this visually by saying: combine a yellow breed and a yellow breed and you would get another yellow breed, but combine a yellow breed and a blue breed and you get a green breed. These 'green' breeds, or mixes, are called grade horses.
There are many different types of pure bred horses. They can be divided into three categories depending on the type of job they were bred to do. Work horses, like the ones who would have towed boats through a flood, plow through a field or carried knights into battle, are called Coldbloods. Coldbloods tend to be very large and docile. Clydesdales and Shire horses are examples of coldbloods. By contrast, horses used for racing are small, light, and often temperamental. They're called hotbloods. Arabian horses and Thoroughbreds are examples of hotbloods.
Warmbloods are horses that are sort of in between. They were created by cross breeding draft and race horses. Warmblood horses are the types of horses used in equestrian sports and for doing light work, like riding and herding cattle. Appaloosas, Australian Stock Horses, and Palominos are warmbloods. Grants, international show titles, and the like are usually awarded to warmbloods. Though not technically breeds, some places allow horses to be registered by color. The categories are Buckskin (solid), Pinto (patches of white), Palomino (gold with white mane), and White.
There's a separate classification for ponies, which aren't just miniature horses (those actually are just little horses) but a separate subspecies. There are several dozen pony breeds, including the Welsh Pony and the Shetland Pony. The type of horse you need to watch out for however, is the wild horse. These still exist in some parts of the world, such as Mongolia and Australia, where they're known as Brumbies. Almost all wild horses are grade or mixed horses because there is no way to control their breeding.