For thousands of years, humans have worked, warred and romped with horses by their side. These incredibly strong, intelligent and quick animals have undoubtedly helped humankind develop and achieve. Beyond all that, though, they’re absolutely gorgeous. And the following 13 breeds? They’re almost unreal.
Easily recognizable because of it’s spotted coloring, Appaloosas descend from the first horses brought to North America by Spanish explorers; they made their way to live with Native Americans in the Northwest Palouse region (located in Washington, Idaho and Oregon) where they eventually became known as Appaloosas. These beauties are jacks-of-all-trades. They are quick, excel in competition, have excellent stamina and are incredibly gentle.
This breed is one of the oldest domesticated breeds in Europe, native to Friesland in the Netherlands. The breed was on the verge of extinction when machines took over their traditional duties on farms and as transportation, but was revived sometime after World War I. The long-mained and long-tailed Friesian is commonly used for light farm work, although they can also be found in circuses and are fine competitors in driving.
Originally from what is now Turkmenistan, the Akhal Teke is a direct descendent of the ancient Turkmenian horse, which is one of the four original horse “types.” They have spent the last 3,000 years as famously competent calvary and race horses, where their great stamina and courage have served them (and their riders) well.
Descendants of the Andalusian Horse, Falabella horses differentiated after being left to survive on their own in the Latin American plains. When the Falabella family came across these small, straggly survivors during the mid-nineteenth century. Many years of domesticating and selective breeding later, the modern-day Falabella are gentle, docile and can often live to be 40-45 years old.
Unlike other breeds, the Pinto is a color breed, meaning that it is bred for its color. These horses all have the distinctive coloring and pattern, but can be from any number of breeds, from thoroughbred to miniatures. There are four types of Pintos: Saddle, Stock, Hunter and Racing.
6. Norwegian Fjord
The Fjord horse, Norway’s oldest horse breed, originally came to the country over 4,000 years ago. Since then, they have been used by Vikings during battle, as well as for farming. Today, breeding of the Fjord horses is strictly controlled by the Norwegian government, with only champion stock selected for export. The breed is dependable, calm, gentle and incredibly beautiful.
7. Irish Cob
Usually piebald, the Irish Cob is incredibly distinctive due to being the only broken-colored breed of the British Isles. These horses were originally bred by the Roma of Great Britain to pull their various in the nineteenth century. These horses are built for strength and power, necessary for pulling the heavy caravans.
The Lipizzan, or Lipizzaner, horses are likely one of the most famous breeds of horses, due in part to the Spanish Riding School in Austria. This breed can be traced back to the 1560s, when Arabian horses were bred with Spanish horses by the Moors. A revived interest in classical riding during the Renaissance brought the Lipizzan to the forefront because of their sturdiness, beauty and intelligence.
9. Andalusian Horse
Popular since the Middle Ages, Andalusian horses are widely regarded as the most perfect breed of horse there is. When the esteemed Spanish horses were crossed with the Moorish Barb horses in the seventh century, the Andalusian was the result. It was long the favored mount of European nobility and used by cavalries. Today, its appearance and jazzy action make it one of the most beloved riding horses in the world.
These equine giants hail from Scotland, bred to meet the needs of farmers, coal miners and more. They were meant to be incredibly strong, in aid of hauling coal and produce throughout Scotland. A high gait and impressive stature make them true showmen. Their hairy lower legs also make them true beauties to behold.
Brought to Iceland sometime around 900 AD, the Icelandic Horse is incredibly similar to ancient Norwegian and German horses. Due to the remoteness of Iceland, however, this native horse has remained relatively unchanged since its introduction to Iceland, unlike their Norwegian and German brethren. They’re rather small, but surprisingly sturdy. What they lack in elegance, they make up for with a strong, workable temperament and great riding performance.
This noble breed hails from Lower Saxony (northern Germany), bred during the time of the Kingdom of Hanover when the horse industry was booming. These valuable equines are prized for their calm temper, beautiful appearance and movement, exceeding willingness to be ridden and almost limitless stamina.
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