What are the best horses in the world? The best horse breed depends on personal preference and the horse’s purpose. Some considerations include whether you want to show your horse, ride frequently, or train the horse to work. Selective breeding has helped give the most popular horses the traits they enjoy, making breeds stand out as the most beautiful, fastest, or best racing horses. An important note is that all domestic horse breeds are part of the same species (Equus ferus caballus) and are abundant enough that they lack an IUCN classification.
Best Overall Horse Breed: Quarter Horse – Three Million Registered with American Quarter Horse Association
The Quarter Horse is easy to describe as being the most popular breed, with three million registered according to the AQHA. These horses are serious contenders for the title of the best racing horse, along with the Arabian and Thoroughbred. These horses are versatile, suited to Western tasks like calf roping and barrel racing, and English disciplines like dressage and jumping. It is easy to see why so many horse lovers own Quarter Horses. These horses are compact yet robust, which helps them stand out as one of the best horse breed options. Because they stand 56 to 64 inches tall on average, they are an excellent height for most riders.
These horses feature a range of colors that appeal to people who love specific colors. In addition to bays, brown, black, or roan coats, these horses may feature palomino or buckskin coats. Some of these horses also have unusual color patterns, such as spotted coats. Quarter Horses have a high intelligence level and even temperaments. Although these horses are fast when racing, they handle easily, making them excellent for beginning riders and children who have outgrown ponies.
Most Beautiful Horse Breed: Arabian – One of the Most Easily-Recognized Horses
Arabians have a look that the Arabian Horse Association describes as “striking.” This breed is one that most people recognize very quickly, being a regular feature in equine-related art. The tail carriage, distinctive head, and floating trot make these horses stand out to all who see them.
These horses’ distinctive features have helped them stand out as endurance racers, in addition to being among the most beautiful horses. These horses quickly adapt to different bridles, making them ideal for reining work. Many registered Arabians are show horses, and although show horses are some of the most expensive, they have contributed to the breed’s reputation for beauty. Arabians have a variety of coat colors, with bay, chestnut, or gray being among the most popular colors. A distinctive feature that these horses have is black skin to protect the horse from sun damage.
Fastest Horse Breed: Thoroughbred – Known for Its Place in Racing
Thoroughbreds are among the fastest horse breeds. These horses descend from lines that make the breed the best racing horse, including Darley and Godolphin Arabian bloodlines. Although most famous for racing, these horses have also been used as cavalry horses in the United States Army.
This breed’s speed has also helped it contribute to other breeds improving their bloodlines. Some of the breeds that have seen increased speed due to Thoroughbred blood include the Morgan, Quarter Horse, and Standardbred. Much of the Thoroughbred horse breeding takes place in the United States.
Tallest Horse Breed – Shire
The Shire is the tallest horse and one of the strongest. These horses have held records for being the largest or tallest horse on different occasions. The large, powerful horses have excelled at farm work and pulling brewery carts, helping them stand out among the strongest breeds.
Most of these horses stand about 70 inches tall. Stallions are usually taller than either mares or geldings. The largest recorded horse in history was a Shire stallion that stood 86 inches tall.
Best Dancing Horse Breed: Lipizzan – a Famous Breed
The Lipizzan considered the best dancing horse, descends from a line of eight stallions that the Habsburg monarchy owned. These horses have been associated with Austria’s Spanish Riding School of Vienna. One of the things that the horses are famous for because of their association with the school is classical dressage, featuring methods dating back hundreds of years.
The Disney movie “Miracle of the White Stallions” highlighted the rescue of the horses during World War II. Lipizzans have characteristics that have made Spanish Riding School of Vienna horses excel in dressage. This breed the best dancing horse is its muscular build and small but strong hooves.
Best Jumping Horse: Dutch Warmblood – One of the Most Successful Competition Breeds
The Dutch Warmblood is one of the best jumping horse breeds. These breeds represent some of the best horses developed during the breeding programs designed after World War II. In addition to being one of the best jumping horse breeds, these horses also excel in dressage, show harness, and hunter events.
These horses feature selective breeding that encourages better, beginner-friendly temperaments. More recent breeding has focused on traits more suitable for showjumping. For example, these horses are tall but not as tall as the Shire and similar draft horse breeds.
Most Expensive Horse Breed: Friesian – A Rare Breed in Its Native Netherlands
The Friesian is often considered one of the most expensive horse breeds due to its rarity. Although believed to have been used to carry knights into battle in the Middle Ages, the demand for these horses slowed as the need for larger draft horses grew. Horses that come from show lines are in high demand, which increases the cost.
Friesians account for about seven percent of the horses in The Netherlands, making the breed rare. These horses have a high value because they are among the best horse breed choices for dressage and harness events. Health concerns common with the breed may also contribute to the cost.
Strongest Horse Breed: Belgian Draft Horse – The Most Popular Draft Horse in America
The Belgian Draft Horse is one of the strongest horses used for work. Growing to 68 inches tall and weighing over 2,000 pounds, these horses have the strength needed for any task. These horses, like Shires, have also set records for the largest horses.
A team of two Belgian Draft Horses at the National Western Stock Show pulled a load that weighed 17,000 pounds. Because of their strength, this breed enjoys status as a popular working horse. In the United States, the Belgian Draft Horse is the most popular draft horse breed, according to the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America.
Best Horses in the World List
- Quarter Horse
- Dutch Warmblood
- Belgian Draft Horse