Humans have long been fascinated with horses. Human reliance on the equines began as a food resource, but soon they became an important means of transportation. As civilizations progressed, they came to symbolize strength and status among the powerful. Others depended on this marvel of nature for farming, herding, transportation, and patrolling.

While the use of horses for traditional purposes declined, our fascination with horses continues to this day. Today, they are the subject of focus for passionate equestrians and farmers. The Food and Agriculture Organization puts the total number of local breeds at 618. These have been subject to selective breeding to get desired traits and characteristics.

While all horses are beautiful, there are some that have enchanted horse enthusiasts for centuries, thanks to their gait, riding prowess, or just appearance. Read along to discover which among these hundreds of breeds are some of the most beautiful horses around the world.

Before we proceed, note that this list is in no particular order and is meant only for entertainment purposes.

1. Arabian Horse

Arabian Horse Overview

Height: 14 – 16 HH

Weight: 800 – 1000 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Grey, Chestnut, Bay Black

Life Expectancy: 30 Yrs.

Origin: Arabian Peninsula

The Arabian horse is best known for its striking beauty, agility, and intelligence. An animal of compact build and strong legs, it has great balance and strength. They have a beautiful symmetrical gait, famously known as their “floating trot.” Evolved in the harsh desert environment, the hardy Arabians were originally bred as warhorses. Today, they excel at endurance races and nearly every other horse sport.

2. Friesian Horse

Friesian Horse Overview

Height: 15 – 17 HH

Weight: 1200 – 1400 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Black

Life Expectancy: 16 Yrs.

Origin: Friesland, Netherlands

One of the oldest European horse breeds, the Friesian is known for its shiny black coat, luscious mane, and tail. Their sturdy structure, docile nature, and reliability made them an animal of choice in wars and farms in the medieval ages. Today the “black pearls of Friesland” are used as show horses and are a popular choice for various equestrian sports.

3. Haflinger Horse

Haflinger Horse Overview

Height: 13 – 15 HH

Weight: 800 – 1300 lbs.

Type: Pony

Coat Color: Chestnut

Life Expectancy: 25 – 30 Yrs.

Origin: Austria & Italy

The charismatic Haflinger has a characteristic chestnut coat and a light mane and tail. The sure-footed, stocky little mountain pony has been bred to develop horses suitable for both riding and pulling carriages. The versatile horse performs exceptionally as a show horse, in jumping and dressage competitions and is suitable for endurance and trail rides. Their short height, muscular bodies, and people-friendly temperament make them suitable for riders of all ages and skill levels.

4. Knabstrupper Horse

Knabstrupper Horse Overview

Height: 15 – 16 HH

Weight: 1150 lbs.

Type: Sports, Classical & Pony

Coat Color: Bay, Chestnut, Palomino, Black, Buckskin, Cremello, Roan, Grey, and Dun

Life Expectancy: 27 Yrs.

Origin: Denmark

The Knabstrupper is the horse version of a Dalmatian dog as far as the coat is concerned, with colored spots on a white base, though some of these horses also come in solid color. Admired for its striking appearance, the horse is a rare breed developed in three distinct types, namely the sports, baroque, and pony. Gentle, easy to train, and maneuverable, the Knabstrupper has great stamina and performs really well in all three types.

5. Akhal-Teke Horse

Akhal-Teke Horse Overview

Height: 14 – 16 HH

Weight: 900-1000 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Characteristic Metallic Sheen, Black, White, Palomino, Cremello, and Perlino

Life Expectancy: 20 Yrs.

Origin: Turkmenistan

Often described as the horse equivalent of a greyhound, the lean and slender Akhal-Teke is known for its distinctive glistening coat, thanks to its light-reflective hair quality. An ancient cousin of the Arabian, the Akhal-Teke was bred for speed and endurance. It is prized for its unusual coat, graceful flowing gait, and outstanding athletic abilities.

Akhal-Teke horses are versatile horses used mainly for showjumping, racing, and recreational riding.

6. Kiger Mustang Horse

Kiger Mustang Horse Overview

Height: 14 – 15 HH

Weight: 800 lbs.

Type: Pony

Coat Color: Dun, Black, Bay, and Roan

Life Expectancy: Up to 40 Yrs.

Origin: Southeast Oregon, America

Descendants of the Spanish horse, the beautiful Kiger Mustang is a feral horse noted for its dun coat and mane and distinctive stripes on the upper legs. Predominantly raised in the wild, the sturdy horses have developed strong hooves, agility, and an admirable sense of preservation that helps them avert any potential danger. Harder to handle owing to its wild brought-up, the Kiger Mustang shines on the trail and endurance riding, as well as on ranch work.

7. Appaloosa Horse

Appaloosa Horse Overview

Height: 14 – 16 HH

Weight: 950-1200 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Bay, Chestnut, Palomino, Black, Buckskin, Cremello, Roan, Grey, and Dun

Life Expectancy: 30 Yrs.

Origin: North America

Another descendant of the Spanish horses, the Appaloosa horses are admired for their distinctive spotted coats, noticeable sclera (white of the eye), and striped hooves. Appreciated by the Nez Percé people, these horses were bred to develop into agile, smart, and persistent animals who could assist in hunting and warfare in difficult terrain. The resulting Appaloosas are sturdy, light horses with a smooth gait. These are pleasing gentle horses that perform equally well for a family ride or on the race track.             

8. Norwegian Fjord Horse

Norwegian Fjord Horse Overview

Height: 13 – 14 HH

Weight: 900-1000 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Dun

Life Expectancy: 30 Yrs.

Origin: Norway

The Norwegian Fjord Horse is one of the oldest pure breeds in the world. The stunning short horse is recognized for its beautiful dun coat, stocky low body, and primitive markings on legs, withers, cheeks/thighs, and in the center of their mane. These gentle and calm horses are hardy and willing to please, coming in handy in a variety of farm work and riding purposes, though not among the top-performing breeds. 

9. Andalusian Horse

Andalusian Horse Overview

Height: 15 – 16 HH

Weight: 900-1100 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Grey, White, Bay, Black, Chestnut, Palomino, and Dun

Life Expectancy: 20-25 Yrs.

Origin: Iberian Peninsula

Known as the Pure Spanish Horse, the Andalusian was the horse of kings and the nobility. Descended from the prehistoric Iberian horse, it continues the legacy of the medieval warhorses in its powerful build, athletic movements, and high speed. The majestic Andalusian horse with a stately air and a rhythmic gait is preferred for parades. An equally smart and quick learning horse, it is remarkable in hunting, driving, dressage, showmanship, and equitation.

10. Percheron Horse

Percheron Horse Overview

Height: 16 – 17 HH

Weight: 1900-2100 lbs.

Type: Heavy

Coat Color: Black and Grey

Life Expectancy: 30 – 35 Yrs.

Origin: Perche, France

Percheron is an elegant draft horse with charming wavy manes and tails. Originating in France, the gentle beast descended from Barb, Flemish draft, and Arabian horses. Prized for their muscular strength and stamina, these horses are popular in farm work. Their pleasing nature and tractability, besides their ability to do heavy work, find them employed for pulling carriages and sleighs.

11. Shire Horses

Shire Horse Overview

Height: 16 – 18 HH

Weight: 1800-2400 lbs.

Type: Heavy

Coat Color: Black, Brown, Grey, and Bay

Life Expectancy: 25 – 30 Yrs.

Origin: England

Descendant of the British Great Horse, the Shire is a massive horse recorded to be the tallest in the world. They are similar in appearance to Clydesdale horses, having distinctive facial and leg markings and elegant feathering on their legs. Bred for their strength, these docile horses are primarily employed to pull heavy loads such as carriages and wagons as well as for logging purposes.

12. Marwari Horse

Scmehta64, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marwari Horse Overview

Height: 14 – 16 HH

Weight: 750-1000 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Chestnut, Bay, Grey, Palomino, Piebald, and Snowball

Life Expectancy: 25 – 30 Yrs.

Origin: Marwar, India

Legend of the folklore, the gorgeous Marwari was a prized horse among the royals of Northwestern India and served in the cavalry. Known for its curved ears that bend inwards, the stunning horse is a rare breed with a natural sense of direction and alertness to danger. Bred to navigate the desert and participate in warfare, these are hardy horses with a smooth gait. They often show up at parades and are suitable for sports like polo and dressage.

13. Dutch Warmblood Horse

Dutch Warmblood Horse Overview

Height: 15 – 17 HH

Weight: 1430 lbs.

Type: Sport, Harness & Draft

Coat Color: Chestnut, Bay, Brown, and Black

Life Expectancy: 20 Yrs.

Origin: The Netherlands

Developed for leisure and competitiveness, the charming Dutch Warmblood is a cross-breed between Groningen and Gelderlander, besides several other bloodlines. These are refined horses with a well-proportioned structure, great stamina, agility, and even temperament. Although the qualities and temperament vary depending on the purpose of their breeding. The Dutch Warmblood is a popular sports breed, giving outstanding performances in sports such as dressage, hunting, showjumping, and driving carriages.

14. American Paint Horse

American Paint Horse Overview

Height: 14 – 16 HH

Weight: 950 – 1200 lbs.

Type: Light

Coat Color: Combination of White + Chestnut, Black, Bay, and Palomino

Life Expectancy: 30 Yrs.

Origin: North America

Recognized for its color-splashed coat, the American Paint Horse is a descendent of the Spanish horse. They are a breed of medium build and striking symmetrical physique. The American Paint was bred for its splendid colors, athletic abilities, easy demeanor, and muscle power. Thanks to its versatility, the horse can be seen drawing attention in a variety of equestrian sports while also showing its mettle for herding and trail riding. 

15. Clydesdale Horse

Clydesdale Vanner Horse Overview

Height: 16 – 18 HH

Weight: 1600 – 2400 lbs.

Type: Heavy

Coat Color: Bay, Black, Chestnut, and Grey

Life Expectancy: 25-30 Yrs.

Origin: Lanarkshire, Scotland

Originating in Scotland, the Clydesdale is a fascinating draft horse distinguished by its majestic size, feathering, and peculiar high-stepping gait. Traditionally used for intensive labor in the transportation of goods and farm work, the horse breed’s number plummeted during the Second World War and is at risk of extinction. The regal, heavy horse now participates as a drum horse in parades and doubles up for therapy rides on the trail.

16. Gypsy Vanner

Gypsy Vanner Horse Overview

Height: 12.2 – 16 HH

Weight: 1000 – 1700 lbs.

Type: Heavy

Coat Color: Any color with Tobiano, Skewbald & Blagdon

Life Expectancy: 25 Yrs.

Origin: Britain

Developed by the Gypsies of Great Britain for practical and aesthetic purposes, the Gypsy Vanner is a piece of art. These are short, sturdy horses with flashy patterned coats, silky manes & tails, and heavy feathering on their legs. Bred for their muscle power, these draft-style horses were traditionally used to draw caravans and displayed along with the artworks of the gypsy people. Owing to the docile nature and versatile characteristics, the Gypsy Vanner takes part in activities ranging from pulling wagons and touristy carriages to therapy and trail rides, besides participating in sports like jumping and dressage.

Parting Words

Horses are dynamic, majestic, and impressive species. With over six hundred recognized breeds, it is hard to reach an agreement on who gets to be categorized among the most beautiful horses. Even seasoned equestrians will have different opinions depending on personal preferences, the nature of their sport, and individual experiences. It was our humble attempt at coming up with a list of the smartest, most elegant, beautifully gated, and eye-catching horse breeds. Hope you enjoyed it.

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