American Horse Breeds List
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The relationship between humans and horses is both ancient and integral to the development of modern civilizations. While they are not the first animal to be domesticated, they were one of the first to be ridden by humans. This was an advantage for various purposes, including transport over long distances. They have also been integral in combat and for agriculture. Although technological advancements have meant that we do not rely on horses as we once did, they are still used in various settings. Their long history has also resulted in the development of various breeds. AnimalWised shares this 20 American horse breeds list with names and photos.
Our list covers all of the Americas, from North American horse breeds to South American horse breeds. The Criollo is from the latter category, being native to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Venezuela. It was derived from Spanish horses, such as the Andalusian, Berber and Arab horse breeds. These were breeds brought from their home country during the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
The Criollo is characterized by their short head, pointed snout, short ears and a strong and robust body. Males are 1.40 to 1.48 m tall and females are 1.38 to 1.46 m. All coat colors are allowed, except for combination patterns. They are often used in North American rodeos, as well as long treks due to their high endurance.
2. Argentine Polo
This American horse breed is named after its association with the game of polo, although it initially derived from the Criollo breed. Criollo mares were then crossed with English Thoroughbreds to obtain a breed specifically adapted for this sport. On average, it is 1.56 m tall, weighs between 400 to 600 kg and has a thick and muscular body. The head is well proportioned with a long neck, providing an elegant appearance. It is a fairly fast, agile and docile horse.
The Argentine Polo is not only used for playing polo, but is also used in dressage. Learn about the best horse breeds for dressage.
It is one of the native American horse racing breeds in the United States, also called an American Trotter in countries like Argentina. To obtain the breed, several crosses were made between European and American horses. Its use is specifically as a trotting racehorse.
Standardbreds are agile, fast and good-natured. They have a similar body to others racehorses with good bearing, a long body and strong muscles. It measures between 1.45 and 1.65 m in height. It can have various coats, but the most common are bay, brown or black. They can also be chestnut, gray or roan.
4. American Quarter Horse
This is an ancient American horse breed, created during colonization of what is now the East coast of the United States of America. It is a combination of English, Oriental and Spanish horses. The name came from the fact that they were naturally adept at running a quarter mile. It is used for sport, but also as a workhorse due to its strength and good character. The head is short, but strong and with a broad forehead.
The neck is long, with strong muscles. They also have very strong legs, affording them their swiftness. It has a height between 1.40 and 1.65 m, while the weight ranges from 500 to 600 kg. Although it may have white patterns on the head and limbs, the accepted coat colors are sorrel, chestnut, dapple, bay and buckskin, among others.
5. Argentino Anglo
As their name attests, this American horse breed originates in Argentina. It is very similar to European Thoroughbreds, having the equivalent strength and body structure. They were formally registered in 1941. Depending on their age, they can measure up to 1.64 m and weigh between 430 and 520 kg.
The Argentine Anglo coat can be chestnut, gray or similar. The head is relatively small, but with a broad forehead. It is a fast breed, very resistant and somewhat rough. Due to its natural shape for jumping, it is frequently used for various equestrian sports, as well as as a workhorse.
6. Peruvian Paso
The origins of this South American horse breed lie in Peru about 300 years ago. They were developed from a mixture of Criollo, Andalusian and Arabian horses. It is reported that they have a specific gait typical of the breed. It is well disseminated in other countries of the South American region.
The size of the Peruvian Paso is medium, with a height between 1.40 and 1.52 m. Despite a light build, they have a muscular, compact and wide body. The coats that are most common are sorrel, chestnut, gray and bay. Its estimated speed is 20 km/h. Their idiosyncratic gait is smooth and they are mainly used as a saddle horse and to travel long distances.
Learn more about horse breeding with our article on how horses mate.
One of the most well-known American horse breeds, the popularity of the Appaloosa is partly derived from their distinctive spotted coat pattern. Their history dates back around 250 years as they were developed by native peoples of the North Western US, specifically the Nez Perce people. Their development is likely from Eurasian breeds, although it is difficult to know.
The Appaloosa Horse Club has existed since 1938, an association that has sought to improve this breed. Their coat colors combinations of light and dark. They have a distinctive spotted coat which present in various patterns, including leopard, spotted back, blanket with spots, snowflake, roan, frost and mottled. They are used in Western competitions during rodeos, but are also known for English riding, making them a versatile breed.
8. Rocky Mountain Horse
Another American horse breed is the Rocky Mountain Horse. While many American horses have European origins, this breed has traveled to the European continent where it has since become popular. They are of medium size at between 1.43 and 1.63 m tall.
The Rocky Mountain Horse is very elegant and is noted for its ambling gait known as the ‘single-foot’. Although their coat can have any solid color, it is highly appreciated when it is chocolate brown on the body with a flaxen blond mane and tail. It is a resistant horse, but at the same time it is delicate and enjoys human company due to its generally calm character.
9. Spanish Mustang
This is an American horse breed with great historical relevance. Their origin dates back to Spanish colonization when horses were introduced to the United States from Spain. It has now adapted to the wild and is often found living freely. Despite originating as a domestic breed, it is now considered one of the wild American horse breeds. The head is somewhat small and the neck is short. It is between 1.32 and 1.50 m tall, has a strong build and can have a variety of coats. These include the sabino, bay, white, black and chestnut.
All horses have their own specific ways to convey information. You can learn more with our guide to horse language and communication.
The Azteca is a breed of Mexican horse which was first obtained around 1972 from crosses between the Andalusian, Criollo and Quarter Horse breeds. The minimum size for this type of American horse is 1.43m, any solid color is allowed, and it has an intermediate build and agility. The head is straight and the neck is somewhat arched, but with thick muscles. Due to its strength and energy, it is widely used to tame bulls, horse riding and trekking, among other activities.
Other American horse breeds
Having looked at the above examples of American horse types, including American racehorse breeds and American wild horses, we're going to share some other American horses which we have not included above:
- American Cream Draft
- Banker horse
- Nokota horse
- Tennessee Walking Horse
- American Paint Horse
- American Saddlebred
Some of these horses listed above are types of wild American horses. Learn more about wild horses from around the world with our related article.
If you want to read similar articles to American Horse Breeds List, we recommend you visit our Comparisons category.
- Tissera, J., Losinno, L., Aguilar, J., & Ludueña, R. (2009). Equine breeds. Practical work guide. Retrieved from: https://www.produccion-animal.com.ar/produccion_equinos/curso_equinos_I/22-razas_equinas_2009.pdf