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Top 5 Most Popular Horse Breeds and Their Features

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You’re looking to purchase your first horse, but you’re not sure what to pick. There are hundreds of options and you keep hearing different things from your friends or reading confusing information online. Nowadays, there are online platforms such as Horses Middle East, entirely dedicated to equestrian demand, where you can check horse and equipment listings directly, and get the information you need from sellers and suppliers – this will help you whittle down your options a fair bit since you thought about investing in a horse.  

But if you’re still undecided, in this article we’ll explore the five most popular horse breeds, with an attempt to explain their differences and features clearly, so that you can make the most informed decision, to benefit your needs.  

Having a new horse can change your life, helping you to be more active and introspective. On the surface, it may seem as if the differences between breeds aren’t that significant. But they can be, and picking the right horse breed for you is vital, whether you’re buying a horse for the first time or not.  

The distinction between the breeds 

Although all breeds are unique, they can all be categorised into three distinct groups based on their temperament and features. Below, you’ll find descriptions for the three categories of temperaments.  

Hot Bloods 

Refined, elegant, and powerful, these horses can react quickly and require experienced handlers. With a fiery temperament, they originate from the Middle East and are most at home in humid, arid conditions.  

Cold Bloods 

Calm and gentle, cold-blooded breeds are most ideally suited for young children and inexperienced riders. They tend to be much heavier than hot-blooded breeds and move slowly in long strides.  

Warm Bloods 

Most common in dressage and show jumping, warm bloods are athletic and agile. The breed originates in Europe and is considered an all-round good breed for riding, with horses being less excitable than hot bloods. 

Below, you’ll find the five most popular types of horses and their main features:

1. Hot Blood: Arabian Horse 

Loving and loyal, the Arabian horse is also the oldest horse breed in the world, and is praised for its elegant and refined appearance.

2. Warm Blood: American Quarter Horse 

The American quarter horse is recognized globally for its agility and docility. Embraced by beginners due to its even temperament, it excels at accelerating rapidly over short distances, with a top speed of 55 mph.

3. Hot Blood: Thoroughbreds 

Thoroughbreds are considered “hot-blooded”, which means they’re known for their agility, speed, and spirit. They’re most well known for their use in horse races.

4. Hot Blood: Morgan 

This horse was originally developed for hunting by the Native Americans. This versatile horse is great for herding, pleasure riding, long-distance trail riding, and more.

5. Cold Blood: Ponies 

Ponies are another popular category of horses. In most cases, a horse that’s fully grown at 144cm or 57 inches or less is considered a pony. With a short stature, they are often great first horses for children. 

Equine Assisted Therapy 

Today, horses are becoming increasingly valued for their sensitivity and ability to make riders more self-aware. A whole industry, known as equine therapy, is blossoming around the world.  

According to a study by Remuda in Arizona, there’s mounting evidence that horse-assisted therapy leads to vast improvements in emotional health, a reduction in anxiety, a decreased sense of isolation, impulse modulation, improved social skills, and the development of creative capacity1 

Below, you’ll find examples of comments made by people who were part of the study:  

“I learned a lot about confidence and being assertive. It also helped me with responsibility. I learned to be surer of myself.” 

“The biggest attribute that I have learned from riding is … communication skills to explain my needs, and the strength to stand up for what I need.” 

Although there are technical differences between horse breeds, what’s most important is picking a horse that feels right for you.  

Summary 

Whichever horse breed you pick, it’s important to pick one that has a temperament that’s most suitable to your needs. Beginners are likely better off picking a cold or warm-blooded type, before investing in a hot-blooded horse at a later point.  

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