Horses and humans have enjoyed a close relationship with each other for tens of thousands of years. As they are one of the strongest and most good-natured species on earth, horses have aided humans with transport, food cultivation, farming, war, and of course, companionship. From giant Clydesdales to tiny Shetland ponies, fast Thoroughbreds and the magical Akhal-Teke, each breed of horse has something unique about it.
Shire horses are among the largest breeds in the world, often weighing over one tonne. Many of the world's largest and tallest horses have been Shire horses. Consequently, Shire horses were used for weight-pulling jobs until these jobs were replaced with mechanical technology in the 1960s. Today, Shire horses are a favorite for recreational riding because of their gentle nature.
North American Curly horses are distinguishable by their tight curly hair, especially inside their ears. These horses are hypoallergenic, meaning that people with allergies to horse hair can ride them. Curly horses can have any color or pattern common to horses, including Appaloosa and Pinto.
Before going into war, Native American Indians would paint symbols on their horses' faces and bodies with natural dyes made of berries, charcoal or clay. These symbols all had different meanings, bringing luck, magic and the protection. The rider of the horse painted the same symbols on his own body, binding the horse and rider as one.
Thoroughbred horsesare the fastest in the world, and consequently are one of the most coveted breeds of horses worldwide. The most expensive horse in history is Fusaichi Pegasus, a Thoroughbred stallion that sold for US$60 million.
The ancestry of the curly horse remains a mystery. Theories about the earliest origins of curly horses suggest that the horses crossed the Bering Land Bridge during the Ice Age and came to North America. Since then, a number of different people have claimed to be the first to discover the curly horse, but it is still unknown.
Haflinger horsesare smaller than most horses, but bigger than ponies, standing between 13 to 15 hands high. They are known as the 'horse of all trades,' with the ability to work in any discipline and learn quickly.
Appaloosa horses are a type of coloring that can have many different colors, patterns and spots. Appaloosa coloring can occur in any breed of horse. Their colors include bay, chestnut, palomino, cremello, perlino, black, chestnut, buckskin, gray, roan, grulla and dun. Appaloosa horses can have leopard, blanket and mottled markings.
Ardennes horses are known to come in all colors, although to be considered a true Ardennes horse, they should not have any white markings on them.
Thumbelina is the world's smallest horse. Measuring 17 inches tall and 26 kilograms in weight, she received the Guinness World Record title for the smallest living horse today. Thumbelina is a miniature horse and suffers from dwarfism, a condition that makes her smaller than usual. She is smaller than an average sized Labrador dog.
Big Jake is the biggest living horse today, standing at 82.85 inches tall. He is a gelding Belgian horse, which are a breed of draft horses (related to Shire horses and Clydesdales). He is seen standing next to Thumbelina, the world's smallest horse.
American Paint horses were a favorite for the Comanche Indians who lived in what is now Southern USA during the 18th and 19th centuries. Paintings of Comanche Indians often depict them riding American Paint horses, which are distinguishable by their unique markings. Since then, these horses have been favored by cowboys for their speed and agility.
Shetland ponies are hardy and tough, coming from Scottish Isles with harsh climates. Historically, Shetland ponies were kept outside on the moors and adapted to the cold temperatures by growing a thicker coat in winter. They are the strongest of all the horses, able to pull up to twice their own body weight.
It's impossible to say what the color of an Appaloosa foal will be before birth, as the gene color combination possibilities for this horse are highly diverse.
Thoroughbred horses are the fastest of all the breeds, reaching speeds of just under 40 miles per hour. All modern Thoroughbreds can trace their lineage back to three stallions that mixed with Arabian, Turkoman and Barb breeds in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Andalusian horses originate from Spain and were often used as cavalry horses. Today, they are used for cattle work and remain one of the most coveted horse breeds due to their intelligence and obedience. Most Andalusian horses are grey, but they can be found to have other colors too.
Andalusian horses were first documented in the 15th century, and since then were often gifted to kings and noble members of society. Sometimes they are referred to as 'Horse of the Kings'. Andalusian horses were bred for their agility, and are typically stoic, mellow and patient.
American Quarter horses are the fastest of all the breeds at running short distances: when running a quarter of a mile, they can reach 55 miles per hour - hence their name. They are the most popular horse in the USA, with over 3 million living horses registered. American Quarter horses perform well in rodeos, horse shows, and working with live cattle.
Friesian horses are typically all black, with flowing manes and 'feather' (long, silky) hair on their lower legs. They are elegant in their movements and are commonly used for dressage. However, if the horse has any white markings on it (aside from a small star on it's forehead) or is chestnut colored, it will be penalized or disqualified.
Ardennes horses are one of the oldest breeds of draft horses, originating from the Ardennes region in Luxembourg, France and Belgium. They have been used as war horses and are said to have been favored by Julius Caesar and Napoleon. Ardennes horses have remained relatively unchanged in the last 15,000 years, retaining their muscular build, high tolerance to extreme weather conditions, and friendly, docile natures.
Wild mustang horses can have many different colors, patches and sizes. They live in herds, which usually consists of one male, around eight females, and their offspring.
Arabian horses are one of the oldest breeds of horses, with their origin dating back to 5,000 years ago. They originally came from the Middle East, but today their bloodlines can be found in almost every breed of racing horse.
Rocky mountain horses originate from Kentucky in the late 1800's, and can be traced back to the stallion that began the breed. These horses have a chocolate color and flaxen mane, with the rare silver dapple gene. Rocky mountain horses have a reputation of being extremely curious and like to be involved in whatever activity their owner is engaging in, making them one of the most companionable breeds of horse.
Rocky mountain horses have an incredible ability to retain information and learn new skills quickly. This comes from their intense curiosity and eagerness to please their owners. Rocky mountain horses have been known to remember tricks they were taught once, or continue trying until they get it right.
Horses manes are more than just beautiful; they provide protection for horses necks and help keep away flies. If left growing naturally, some horses manes can reach their knees. Horse hair from manes and tails are used forpaintbrushes, violin and other stringed instrument bows, and fishing lines.
The Dartmoor pony is a pony that lives exclusively on the moors of Dartmoor, England. The pony is relatively hardy as a result of the extreme weather conditions it experiences, and it has high stamina. Dartmoor ponies can be found in a number of colors, and usually stand between 11.1 and 12.2 hands.
The Exmoor pony is found in Exmoor, England. It's characteristics are similar to those of the other breeds of ponies that originated from areas of south England, such as the Dartmoor pony. Some theories claim that the Exmoor pony has been purebred since the Ice Age, with fossil remains of horses in Exmoor dating back 50,000 years ago. Today, Exmoor ponies are widely used for conservation grazing.
Gypsy horses originate from Ireland, although they were brought there by the travelling Romani peoplein the mid to late 1800's. Gypsy horses, which were originally known as the Irish Cob, were used to pull the vardos (caravans) of the Romani people as they moved from place to place, favored for their strength and docility. Today, Gypsy horses are used for horse fairs, equestrian sports and occasionally pulling wagons for entertainment purposes.
There arefour basic horse colors: brown, black, bay and chestnut. All other horse colors, which include grey, white, cream, roan, dun, skewbald and piebald, are the result of genetic modifications. Chestnut horses carry two recessive genes for the red color pigment, so a black mare and black stallion can potentially have a chestnut foal. Chestnut horses typically have more white markings than other horses, especially on their foreheads or noses.
Wild mustang horsesare descendants of domesticated horses that escaped, so their genetic makeup usually includes a variety of different breeds. There are only two truly wild horse breeds that have been discovered: the Tarpan and the Przewalski.
Knabstrupper horses share the same color gene as Appaloosa horses, which is called the Leopard Complex. What sets Knabstruppers apart from Appaloosas is the 'blanketing' effect that they commonly exhibit, where a solid colour will cover a section of the horse – usually its flank. Knabstruppers can have many colors in their coat, like the foundation stallion of the Knabstrupper breed, which is said to have had 20 colors and a metallic glow to its coat.
Within 24 hours of being born, foals can gallop!
Clydesdale horses are a breed of draft horse that come from Clydesdale, Scotland. They are one of the biggest breeds of mammals on earth, and each horse will typically weigh over a tonne. While they used to be used as war horses and pulling farming machinery, Clydesdales aregentle in nature and make great (and huge) companions and pets.
Shetland ponies are among the smallest horses on earth and originate from the Shetland Isle in Scotland. Although they are small - from 28 to 46 inches - they are strong, and were originally used for pulling carts and transporting coalfrom inside coal mines. Today they are used for something a little more lighthearted: giving children rides at carnivals.
Horses have a range of different eye colors, from amber, hazel, green and black - but blue eyes in horses are still somewhat of a mystery. Horses with blue eyes usually have white patterns or marks, and a few breeds have blue eyes more commonly than other breeds, but scientists are still unsure about the cause of blue eyes in horses.
This picture is a still taken from the first motion picture film ever made. in 1872, Eadweard Muybridge was asked to prove if horses lifted all four feet when galloping. Using a line of cameras that each took one photo after the other, he was able to prove that all four feet do leave the ground when a horse is galloping. His horse was a Kentucky-bred mare named Sallie Gardner, but we aren't sure what breed of horse she was.
Pinto horses aren't actually a breed of horse; Pinto refers to the coloring of the horse's coat, rather than genetic ancestry. Many Pinto horses are wild, like the mare and foal pictured here.
There are many colors of horses - this one is dun.
Icelandic horses originate from ponies taken to Iceland by Nordic settlers in the 9th and 10th centuries. Since then, they have adapted to become small, sturdy and sometimes temperamental. Growing shaggy coats of fur in the winter enables them to survive harsh winter conditions, they are used today for herding sheep and competitions.
Appaloosa horses are best known for their spotted or patterned markingson their bodies. Many breeds of horses have influenced the Appaloosa horse throughout history, meaning that thecharacteristics of Appaloosa horses can vary widely. This is a Friesian Appaloosa horse.
Shire horsesoriginate from England and Scotland, where temperatures have been known to go down to -22 Degrees Celsius. As a result of this, Shire horses are comfortable in winter and can grow a coat of thicker fur to accommodate for the colder temperatures.
The Akhal-Teke horse is a breed originally from Turkmenistan and is considered by many to be the most beautiful horse breed in the world. It is one of the rarest horse breeds today, and is thought to be one of the oldest horse breeds in history. Akhal-Teke horses are found in many different colors, and all have a natural metallic sheenthat makes their coats seem shiny. These horses are known for having extreme endurance and are a highly coveted breed, although most of the breed lives in Turkmenistan and Russia.
Gypsy horses are known for the beautiful feathering on their legs from the knees downwards.
Andalusian horses were originally war horses, but today they are often used in movies like Cinderella.
Appaloosa horses can be any breed of horse, including miniature horses and ponies. This is because 'Appaloosa' refers to the color gene, rather than the breed.
Most Friesian horses are black, although some are chestnut colored. This is because black horses can carry the recessive red gene. Most stallions that compete are only allowed to be colored fully black.
Foals can be weaned as early as three months after birth, although for many horses the natural process will last longer.
Horses can have naturally straight or wavy manes and tails, depending on the individual breed's hair follicle. Many horse owners will braid their horse's hair to give it a wavy look.
Horses are social animals and prefer to live in a group, or a herd. Large herds are usually split into smaller bands, which have around 25 horses in each one. These have an established hierarchy, with 1 to 5 stallions in a group and the rest being mares and foals.
Horses can swim and enjoy it, especially on a hot day. Swimming is beneficial as exercise without bearing any weight on their limbs and can strengthen injured tendons.
And a beach paint one.
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