One of the oldest breeds of horses in the world is the Exmoor. These rare breeds come from Exmoor in southwest England and date back to the last Ice Age. They stand at 12.2hh to 12.3hh (hands high) but are strong enough to carry a grown adult.
Exmoors are usually a mousy dun color, with light mealy–colored areas around the inside of their legs, the underbelly, muzzle and eyes. The eyes of an Exmoor are hooded with a light ring around it called a "toad" eye.
P.O.A. Pony of Americas
A modern breed of pony created when an Iowan horse breeder bred a Shetland pony with an Appaloosa in the 1950s. The resulting foal was small and stocky with Appaloosa "leopard" spots.
Pony of the Americas or POAs as they are known have short legs, large eyes, a slightly arched neck, a body that is short and well–rounded as well as spots that are round or egg shaped. Their sclera (the area that encircles the iris) is very white and POAs often have areas of skin that are mottled. Pony of Americas stand from 11.2 to 14hh.
Known for how tall and strong they are (standing at 16 to 17.2 hh on average), Percherons were the warhorses of old that knights rode into battle. Due to mixing in of Arabian bloodlines long ago, Percherons are known for their elegant appearance and fine head. However, their legs are still strong and long making them good as draft horses as well.
Quite popular in the United States, the Belgian Draft horse is an ancient breed dating back to Roman times. This breed helped create several other draft horse breeds such as the Clydesdale. Belgian Drafts can grow up to 17hh, they are very compact and quite strong. Red in coloring – they range from chestnut to a red roan. They were used in the old days as farm horses, but still can be seen pulling carts and even trolleys in some small European towns.
Arabians are perhaps the oldest purebred horses in the world and by many are considered the most beautiful. With heads that are often small and elegant, the Arabians are unique in that their neck has a high crest. Where their neck joins the head is called a mitbah and are only seen in Arabians. A small horse (15hh at their tallest), Arabians are nonetheless known for their strength and stamina. They were bred for these traits for over 4000 years on the Arabian peninsula – owners prized them highly back as now. They come in chestnut, bay and gray colorings with brown and black rarely seen. Arabians are known for their courageous and gentle nature.
The Barb comes from Morocco in north Africa, and is one of the oldest breeds in the world. Barbs are such an ancient breed, that the shapes of their heads are more like that of primitive horses and thus are not considered as handsome as the Arabian. Their heads are large and plain with very thick manes and tails. Barbs are known as a tough, sound horse that are able to run at great speeds with stamina. The Barb bloodlines created what is known as the Spanish Horse from which many other breeds come from.
The first "All–American" horse was bred in Virginia in the 1600s for farm work and general riding. A Quarter Horse's speed and agility make them perfect for working cattle. These horses get their name from English settlers in Colonial America who would race them on quarter mile long tracks. Quarter Horses come in any solid color and stand 15 to 16hh. There are over 3 million registered Quarter Horses making them possibly the most popular horse in the world. Their agility and athleticism combined with calm nature make them perfect for both pleasure riding, working cattle and Western horse shows.
These tough horses once roamed the plains of western U.S. Are called Mustangs. They are decended from Spanish horses taken into the United States back in the 1500s. For centuries Mustangs lived a free life, and now efforts are being made to protect them. They stand 13.2 to 15 hh and come in any color. Mustangs are known for being strong, fast, agile and hardy. Not as good natured as many other breeds, many can be domesticated and used as riding or endurance horses but they also make excellent companion animals to other horses.
Many Americans know about Lipizzaners from shows put on by the famous Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. An extremely intelligent horse, the Lipizzaner is stockily build with short, strong legs standing at 15.2 to 16.1 hh. They are usually born with dark black coats that grow lighter as they get older. Lipizzaners maybe 7 years or older before they get their gray to white coats. The Spanish Riding School trains Lipizzaner stallions to perform "high school" movements. It takes many years of training for the horse and his rider to learn all the complex movements.
The fastest breed of horse in the world, Thoroughbreds came out of England in the 1600s from Arabian and Turkish blends of stallions mated with English mares. The Thoroughbred's sloping shoulders and long pasterns create a long, low stride that is quite comfortable for the rider. They are light and graceful, yet with powerful quarters and great stamina – many consider the Thoroughbred the perfect horse. Thoroughbreds stand between 15.2 and 16.2hh, they come in solid colors of bay, brown, black, chestnut, or gray. They are the most popular breed of racehorse, but their energy means they are also higher strung and can be difficult to handle. Most thoroughbreds need an experienced rider to handle them.