Most Popular Horse Breeds

Your Favorite Breeds and Types

  • 01 of 10

    Draft Breeds

    Horses pulling Plough. Image Credit:Danita Delimont /Getty Images

    Ranking tenth,  are draft breeds. The Clydesdale horse, the Percheron and other heavy horse breeds are the gentle giants of the horse world. Draft crosses can make ideal first horses as they are often docile and gentle.

  • 02 of 10

    Gaited Breeds

    Rare Icelandic Horse, Dalur, Iceland
    Icelandic Horse. Image Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

    Coming in at number nine were gaited breeds. This surprised me, as breeds like the Tennessee Walker and Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse are popular choices for older riders who find posting difficult on knees and backs and those looking for a bounce-free pleasure ride.

  • 03 of 10

    Grade Horses

    Horses in High Desert pasture at Trujillo in New Mexico
    Grade horses. Image Credit: Paul Souders / Getty Images

    Grade horses—horses of no particular or known breeding are the eighth most popular horse. Most of us who have been riding for awhile will have a favorite grade horse in our histories. I began riding on my mother’s grade gelding Manitou. Looking back, he probably was a mix of Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and perhaps even a smidge of a draft breed. But that’s just a guess. Grade horses, even though they don’t have a distinguished pedigree, can do everything any other horse can do and many make ideal beginner horses.

  • 04 of 10

    The Morgan Horse

    A dark brown Morgan mare trotting through the snow.
    A Morgan mare. Image Credit:catnap72/ E+ /Getty Images

    The Morgan, with it’s strength, elegance and history is as much a popular breed as it is a cultural icon. The official horse breed of Vermont, the Morgan horse leant its muscle to clearing and tilling New England farms during the earliest years of American history. Today it is a popular driving and riding horse, surefooted over rough trail as it is refined and dignified in the show ring. The Morgan was the seventh most popular horse on our poll.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10


    A spotted Appaloosa horse.
    An Appaloosa horse. Image Credit:By:Bob Langrish/ Dorling Kindersley /Getty Images

    The colorful Appaloosas comes in a close fourth with about 9% of the vote. This breed has enthusiasts the world over. Originally developed by the Nez Perce of the “Horse Nations”, this popular breed was recovered from near extinction by a few dedicated breeders. Hardy, with brilliant coat patterns, few people can disregard the appeal of these horses.

  • 06 of 10


    Man Schooling Horse, Great Britain
    A Dutch Warmblood. Tim Graham/Getty Images / Getty Images

    Although the Quarter Horse and many other light horse breeds, are actually warmbloods—a mix of cold and hot blooded breeds, Warmbloods like Hanovarians, Trakehners, Cleveland Bays, Canadians, Belgian Warmbloods and others are very popular with readers, putting the general heading ‘warmbloods’ in fifth place. Many of the European breeds were bred for the battlefield and tend to be larger boned and of more phlegmatic temperament than many light horse breeds.

  • 07 of 10


    Young cowboy on Shetland pony
    Shetland Pony. Ralf Nau / Getty Images

    Many of us learned to ride on ponies and ponies are in sixth place on our poll. The plucky Shetland and the more elegant Welsh Ponies are popular breeds, whether for children or driving ponies for adults.

  • 08 of 10


    Horse and Rider #3
    Thoroughbred jumper. Debra Feinman / Getty Images

    Following close behind the Arabian in third place is the Thoroughbred with about 13% of the total vote. Thoroughbreds might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but some are suitable for beginners. Many OTTBs find second careers as riding and driving horses both in competitive disciplines such as dressage and jumping and as pleasure horses for backyard riding.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10


    An Arabian Horse. Image: Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

    In second place was the Arabian at Part Arabs with 14% of the vote. Arabians may not be the ideal first horse, although there’s always exceptions to the rule, and many beginners started out riding Arabs or Part Arabs. The Arabian breed registry is the oldest breed registry in the world. Every light horse breed can trace their ancestry back to the Arabian.

  • 10 of 10

    American Quarter Horse

    Two American Quarter Horses standing in a pasture.
    American Quarter Horses. Image Credit:Ken Gillespie Photography/ First Light /Getty Images

    In first place was the American Quarter Horse. Well known for it’s agility, docility and athleticism, these horses are well respected by beginners and professionals alike. They can star on the trail or in the show ring. And even if we moved on to other breeds, many of us can tell fond tales of a Quarter Horse that started it all when we rode as youths. The American Quarter Horse is the largest breed registry in the world and the horses are enjoyed globally. Almost 20% of you voted for the Quarter Horse as your favorite breed.