Horse Breeds: From Shire to Ponies — What You Need to Know

When it comes to horses, we can find more than 300 breeds all around the world, and they can enter specific categories, each one focusing on different fields of success.

You can find most of them in this article, but we will discuss some of the most popular breeds you can find, and how different breeds have very specific characteristics that make them better at certain activities than others. You will also get to know why do horses need shoes but not cows.

To understand these breeds, we have to first talk about the categories used to identify horses, with them being 5 main categories. Each category fulfills a specific role, for example, but certainly might be part of multiple categories at the same time, whereas others solely enter one category. Also, learn more about the evolution and origins of horses.

Draft Horses

Breeds entering this category are highly recognized for their strength, endurance, and vitality. They tend to be very tall in comparison to other breeds, have well-developed muscles, weigh around 1600 pounds, and capable of moving twice their weight for medium to short distances.

For a very long time before industrialism and machinery became a thing, this type of horse was the main way of moving things around, and they were often used to move wagons, carriages, or people wearing heavy armor.

This type of horse is commonly referred to as“cold-blood” which is a term that is used for horses that tend to remain calm and have very mature, calm temperaments. The Belgian, Russian Heavy Draft, Dutch Draft, Breton, and Shire horse, are some of the many examples we can share.

Cold-bloods are also known for being rather slow horses, and this is not a surprise considering their incredible size, weight, and strength.

Lightweight Horses
These are pretty much opposites to the first category of horses since they mainly focus on being quick, agile and a lot of endurance when ride. These are the ones people used back in the day for things like traveling or racing, and nowadays they are used for the same purposes, but they are also used for different types of contests.

This specific type of horse was mainly bred to be used while saddled since their “hot-blooded” temperament requires it. Hot-blooded refers to horse breeds that are well known for being hyperactive, easily startled, with incredible amounts of energy, and very speedy.

Among the horses entering this category, we have the Rocky Mountains, American Quarters, Pintos, Paints, and Morgan horses.

Gaited Horses

These ones are very similar to lightweight ones, but the main difference is the way they are used. You see, while a lightweight horse will mainly focus on speed, a gaited horse will provide a very gentle ride exceptional for its smoothness.

These are primarily used for wandering around at a reasonable speed without losing the comfort of a gentleman’s walk. Back in the day, they were used by people with class and elegancy and expressed not only status but a gallant, noble presence as well.

Among the many options you have, you can find the American Saddlebred, Campeiro, Campolina, Nordestino, Pampa, and the Icelandic horse.


This one can be described as a breed born from the combination of cold-bloods and hot-bloods. They are middle-weight horses and can provide pretty much the benefits of both types of breeds in a single horse.

For that reason, they are considered a great breed since they are both strong and agile, gentle but active, and capable of participating in several activities. Among the breeds you can find, you have the Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood, Holsteiner, and the Trakehner.


A pony is well known for being a small-sized horse, but don’t underestimate these little fellas. Back in the day, in the Mongol culture, Mongols used to ride what we know today as Mongol horses, which pretty much entered the category of ponies. A common Mongol saying claimed that a Mongol without his pony was pretty much a bird without its wings!

Practically speaking, ponies are capable of pretty much everything, from being mounted to carrying heavyweight, to jumping contests and racing, ponies are small, but very capable animals.

Genghis Khan raised their popularity as war vessels, and if you research the history of Mongol horses and the Mongolian wars, they pretty much provided a lot of benefits and allowed many of their raids to be successful ones because of how capable they were at providing for themselves.

Last Words

There are many options if you want to become a horse owner, and choosing wisely is an important part of the process. As long as you are patient, and decide which one is best for your circumstances, you will be fine. Of course, researching more about how to care about them, train them, and how to use them, is up to you.

Of course, you can always research more about other horse breeds in case you are interested in more detailed information. There are a lot of breeds out there, each varying in price, care needed, strength, dexterity, and endurance.

Overall, you should always prepare yourself for the experience before even engaging in the process of buying a horse. It is a very time and resource-consuming hobby, and if you don’t have what it takes to deal with it, you might end up with an injured or malnourished horse.

Make sure you have a professional at hand in case something happens, and research as much as possible for a successful riding adventure!

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