Horses have been bred for a variety of reasons for thousands of years, with countries around the world producing unique and useful specimens. American horse breeds are no exception.
Of all the countries in the world, America is one of the most revered for its horse breeding. The country has a long history of caring for and using horses, from cowboys on the frontier through to modern rodeos and races.
Commonly thought to have been introduced by Christopher Columbus, horses were, in fact, native to the country and lived there long before he landed.
Today, there is a wide range of American horse breeds available, each with unique characteristics and temperaments.
For horse buyers, owners or just animal enthusiasts, it’s important to learn about the different breeds on the market. If you want to learn about American horse breeds, then read on to find out more.
American Quarter Horses
An excellent sprinting horse, American Quarter Horses are popular for flat racing and as rodeo animals. They’re naturally fast and graceful, and usually have a friendly temperament, making them a great all-rounder.
Although fast when they need to be, they tend to be sensible. They’re used across the country for a range of equine jobs, from cutting cattle to teaching kids to ride. These beautiful horses come in a variety of colours and have a majestic silhouette. They’re one of the most popular breeds of American horse and are renowned around the world.
The descendants of some of the oldest horses in America, Morgan Horses are beautiful, hardy animals that can be used for a variety of purposes. Strong and sturdy, they represent the finest traits of American horses. They tend to be friendly, loyal, amicable and eager to please.
People who love Morgan Horses love them a lot. If you’re interested in finding out more, then check out this guide to the Morgan Horse, which covers the key characteristics of the Morgan Horse and why they might be the perfect breed for you.
American Shetland Ponies
Related to the traditional British Shetland Pony, American Shetlands are taller than their British counterparts. They have longer, graceful legs and a broad chest. American Shetland Ponies also have a thinner coat than British Shetlands and a less defined mane.
They may look very different from their stocky British relatives, but American Shetlands share the same friendly temperament and gentle nature. As such, they’re perfect for children and novice riders, just like British Shetlands. Their larger stature means that they can be ridden by older children and even some small adults. This makes them an excellent choice of horse for riding schools and beginners.
Mustangs are a free-spirited, wild breed of horse derived from the animals bought over to the United States by the Spanish when the continent was first colonised. Nowadays, Mustangs are an iconic symbol of the American West.
The animals that roam freely in America are protected and managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, but some Mustangs have been domesticated and some are bred with other types of horse to produce hardy stock. They’re often used for ranch work and trails, although they’re athletic enough for other purposes, too. They do tend to have minds of their own, and appreciate a rider who can get behind that.
Appaloosa horses are renowned for their distinctive spotted coats and flowing long manes. Identifying an Appaloosa can sometimes be difficult, as there are many different body shapes and colour patterns.
They’re not the only breed of horse to have spots, either. At first glance, therefore, it isn’t always easy to distinguish a purebred Appaloosa from other spotted horses. However, they also have distinctive striped hooves and skin discolouration. People who know this breed well can quickly tell the difference between a purebred animal and a horse with similar markings.
Some people claim that Appaloosas are loyal to riders who treat them well, and aggravated if they are mishandled or mistreated. They do best with riders who have enough time to commit to forging a strong bond with their horse. Just like any horse would.
Feature image: Micah Tindell