The 5 Types of Horses You Need to Know About

August 17, 2020

The 5 Types of Horses You Need to Know About

 Did you know that there are over 300 existing horse breeds? Even for horse owners and experts, it can be overwhelming to know all the different kinds and the purpose of each one. 

However, there are five main classes that all breeds fall under. In this horse breed comparison article, we'll go over these classes, which are known as light, draft, gaited, warm-blooded, and pony. Every class is defined by its unique traits and specialties. Let's learn more about them: 


Light horses come in many weights, heights, colors, and builds. Every one of these horses shares one thing in common: they were bred for riding, endurance, agility, and speed. Since this type of horse is mainly used for riding, animals like these can be commonly seen all over the world. 

Light typed horses have high amounts of energy and can get easily excited. Some examples of breeds that fall under this category are Friesian, Hanoverian, Paso Fino, and Lusitano.

This type can be further categorized into three more areas: stock type, hunter type, and saddle type. 

- Stock horses are also referred to as Western-type. These breeds have a lot of muscle which makes them a great working horse on a ranch. 

- When making horse breed comparisons, it is known that hunter type horses, also known as sport horses, are more commonly used for equestrian events like show jumping or dressage. 

- The Saddle type is more geared toward riding and trailing for pleasure, which makes them great to be a personal pet. 


These animals typically weigh in at over 1600 pounds and can be up to 64 inches tall. Breeds that fall under this type are strong, tall, and heavy. 

Draft horses were originally bred to pull or carry heavy loads since they have the ability to pull loads twice their weight. They were used for farm work or even carrying soldiers around during battle. 

If you have ever met a draft-type horse, you know they are level-headed and have an average temperament. Since horses in this category are strong and made to work with a mild attitude, they are referred to as cold-blooded. Clydesdale, Shire, Breton, and Boulonnais are all horse breeds under the draft type. 

Some physical features of a draft type horse include upright and powerful shoulders, a thick neck with a muscular crest, and round hindquarters which allow them to pull heavy loads. Depending on the specific breed, there can be a lot of feathering on the lower limbs or there can be none at all. Though different draft horses may have different characteristics, they are all strong and can handle the heavy lifting. 

Horses categorized under the gaited type are similarly bred for riding, but with a smoother ride in mind. They have the ability to have multiple different gaits, whether it is foxtrot, the running walk, and more. 

These horses were historically bred for Generals, officers, and other wealthy men. Icelandic, Campolina, and Campiero are all examples of breeds under the gaited type. 

While gaited horses' high energy levels may intimidate people, do not let it stop you from riding this type of horse. Most gaited breeds are very gentle and sensible, but it is true that some breeds under this type are naturally up-headed. Naturally, up-headed animals can intimidate people that aren't familiar with them. However, some breeds like Quarter Horses or Thoroughbreds do not have this trait, so don't judge every gaited-type horse as the same!

If you see a strong, tall, and athletic horse, this is most likely a warm-blooded type. They are commonly referred to as middleweight horses or warm-blooded because they're a happy medium between hot and cold-blooded. 

Warm-blooded types usually have laid-back personalities but high levels of energy. Their high energy makes these horses perfect for jumping harness, dressage, or even Olympic equestrian sports. Dutch, Hanoverian, and Swedish horses are all prime examples of warm-blooded breeds that fall under this type. 

Warm-blooded horse types are not named this because of the temperature of their blood, but rather their temperament. Terms like warm-blooded, cold-blooded, or hot-blooded are often used to organize horses by their temperament and energy levels. Warm-blooded horse types typically have a calmer temperament than breeds like Thoroughbreds but have more athletic ability than draft-types. These horses are the perfect choice if you are looking into dressage or even eventing. 

Ponies are popularly known for their small size and stature. On average, pony types measure less than five feet in height, making them close to the size of a child. This is because of their unusually short legs. 

There are over 100 existing breeds of ponies, but this type was originally used to pack, harness, ride, jump, pull, and more. Ponies are especially popular for parties and recreation, especially for small children. Pony-type horses are extremely small for their entire life but, interestingly, ponies mature much faster than horses. The American Miniature, Hacknet, and Gypsy are all prime examples of ponies.

The best, most athletic ponies can be competitive against some full-sized horse breeds. Ponies are a popular choice since many riders want a mount that is closer to their height, abilities, and physique. Beginners can benefit a lot from riding ponies because of their superior intelligence and calm temperament. Ponies come in over ten different breeds, which gives riders plenty of choices.

Horses Come in Different Shapes and Sizes

While there are five types of horses to help better understand horse breeds, it is important to remember that a breed can fall under two different types of horses. For example, while the Hanoverian breed is a warm-blooded horse, it is also referred to as a light-type since this breed was bred for endurance, speed, and riding. Even more common breeds like Thoroughbred have difficulty falling only under one category. 

There are hundreds of different types of horses under every category, and they are each unique in their own way. 

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