GRIT's guide to 16 noteworthy breeds.
The outside of a horse is good for the inside of man,” Winston Churchill said. Today, with American Horse Council statistics indicating more than nine million horses in the United States, the American love affair with horses is alive and well. Although innumerable horse breeds are available in this country, we have chosen to take a closer look at breeds that originated in the United States and have registries.
Owning a horse is a major commitment, an outdoor activity the entire family can enjoy, and a satisfying pursuit whether your dream is meandering down the trail, enjoying nature or aiming for the Olympics. In the horse world, if you like horses and are considerate in their care, you will be welcomed into countless owner groups where you can talk animals and improve your skills.
As one father of two teenagers involved with horses put it, “The cheapest money you can spend on kids is to get them a horse. Much cheaper than psychiatrists.” Horses aren’t just for youngsters. Senior
citizens are staying younger longer thanks to their commitment to horses.
Sound intriguing? First, invest in sound basic riding and horse-handling lessons to become proficient at keeping your seat as you guide the horse through a ride.
Riding not for you? Investigate learning how to hitch a horse to a carriage and go for a drive.
Participating in equine competitions may be exciting, but time spent exploring the countryside with your equine companion will do much to bring a satisfying peace of mind. Invite a couple of horses into your life, and rein it in a new direction.
The world’s most prolific breed with 5.5 million registered today. Quarter horses are popular among working ranchers and cowboys.
The breed is so-named because a good quarter horse can blaze a quarter mile in 21 seconds or less. Racing lineages have infusions of thoroughbred blood.
American Quarter Horse Association
P.O. Box 200
Amarillo, TX 79168
Ancient drawings document the early existence of spotted horses. Spain is responsible for bringing them to America in the 1600s. The Nez Percé Indians, known for their horse sense, acquired them, and soon the spotted horses were known as the “Indian Ponies.” Not all Appaloosas have spotted coats. The registry officially began in 1938.
Appaloosa Horse Club
2720 W. Pullman Road
Moscow, ID 83843
Walking horses are prized for their unique 4-beat flat foot walk and rolling rocking-horse canter – walking horses give a ride with a glide. Folks faced with spending a day in the saddle value the comfort of these horses.
Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders’ and Exhibitors’ Association
P.O. Box 286
Lewisburg, TN 37091
Treasured for its comfortable ride and agreeable attitude, this horse performs the “Fox Trot” with a reaching walk in front and a trot behind with a noticeable sliding action. The result is a smooth gliding gait without swinging. Registry began in 1948.
The Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association
P.O. Box 1027
Ava, MO 65608
Progenitor of the breed, Figure (owned by Justin Morgan; also known as Justin Morgan’s horse, or “The Justin”), was foaled in Massachusetts in 1789. Registry began in 1894. Estimated 95,000 Morgans are alive today. Energetic, loves challenges, hates boredom. Only horse the U.S. government ever bred.
American Morgan Horse Association
122 Bostwick Road
Shelburne, VT 05482-4417
The look of a refined horse, but must be under 34 inches to be registered. Popular for today’s smaller farms and ranches as well as for people who love horses, but do not want to get into daily handling of a full-size horse. Registry began in the 1970s.
American Miniature Horse Registry
81 B Queenwood Road
Morton, IL 61550
American Miniature Horse Association Inc.
5601 South Interstate 35W
Alvarado, TX 76009
Holds the distinction of being the only draft horse breed that originated in the United States. Rising from America’s Midwestern farming heritage, these handsome, golden horses emerged at a time when farmers were turning to tractors. The registry began in 1944; fewer than 400 exist today.
American Cream Draft Horse Association
193 Crossover Road
Bennington, VT 05201
Cream Acres Ranch
Dave and Carol Pshigoda
63125 Johnson Ranch Road
Bend, OR 97701
America’s harness racing horse, the Standardbred was so named because the animals met a time “standard” for the mile. They race as trotters (diagonal 2-beat gait) or pacers, also known as “sidewheelers” (lateral gait). Pacers are more efficient, reaching a higher top speed. Standardbreds can make excellent saddle horses with nearly limitless stamina. The registry dates back to 1871.
The United States Trotting Association
750 Michigan Ave.
Columbus, OH 43215
Feral horses living in western United States. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was passed in 1971 to protect, manage and control wild horses and burros on public lands in order to ensure healthy herds and healthy rangelands. These horses are trainable, but adopters experienced in horse care are recommended. They come from many generations of wild horses and are resilient, loyal and sturdy.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
1849 C St.
Washington, DC 20240
National Wild Horse Association
P.O. Box 12207
Las Vegas, NV 89112
Less than 1,000 Nokotas remain worldwide. This tough and willing horse is related to historic ranch and Indian horses, including a herd confiscated from the Lakota in 1881. The conservancy was organized in 1999 to provide a permanent sanctuary and promote the breed. A breed registry began in 1990.
Nokota Horse Conservancy
420 S. Broadway
Linton, ND 58552
Considered the elegant peacocks of the horse world, these graceful, long-necked horses were the mount of choice for several Confederate generals. Three-gaited Saddlebreds perform a walk, trot and canter. Five-gaited Saddlebreds walk, trot, canter, and perform a slow gait (slow 4-beat gait) and a high-stepping, speedy rack (4-beat gait). The breed organization was established in 1891.
American Saddlebred Horse Association
4083 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511
This term covers several registries that began circa 1986. They are medium-size horses known as the Rocky Mountain Horse, Kentucky Saddle Horse, Mountain Pleasure Horse and Spotted Mountain Horse. All are prized for their gentle temperament and easy-to-sit ambling four-beat, ground-covering gait. The United Mountain Horse Inc. was formed in 2000 to join the four breeds.
United Mountain Horse Inc.
860 Kiddville Road
Winchester, KY 40391
A pony breed immortalized by Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague, these horses are the darlings of Assateague Island on the Maryland-Virginia line. Part of the herd is managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Co., which earns funds from their sale. The rest of the herd is managed by the National Park Service. For more see “An Island’s Living History” in the November/December 2007 issue of GRIT.
Chincoteague Pony Association
P.O. Box 407
Chincoteague, VA 23336
National Chincoteague Pony Association
2595 Jensen Road
Bellingham, WA 98226
Some people place a great deal of emphasis on the color of a horse’s coat. That premise led to the establishment of several major “color” breed registries in the United States. Many individuals are “double registered” because they meet the criteria of both a color registry and a breed registry. For instance, Roy Roger’s Trigger met the criteria to be registered both a Palomino and a Tennessee Walking Horse. Older terms for these horses are skewbald (brown and white) and piebald (black and white).
These golden horses made their way to America with Spanish explorers. They are a color breed whose coat must approximate some light to dark variation of a U.S. 14 karat gold coin. Manes and tails must be white, ivory or silver. They may be, but don’t have to be, a registered horse of another breed. Two registries recognize the golden horses.
The Palomino Horse Association Inc.
Route 1, Box 125
Nelson, MO 65347
The Palomino Horse Breeders of America, Inc.
15253 E. Skelly Drive
Tulsa, OK 74116-2637
Endless combinations of colors splashed with white, all of which fall into Tobiano (mostly white with spots of color), Overo or Sabino (mostly colored with white splashes), or Tovero (characteristics of both Tobiano and Overo). Pintos often have blue eyes. The horse can be of any breed. This registry was established in the 1950s.
Pinto Horse Association of America Inc.
7330 NW 23rd St.
Bethany, OK 73008
This second largest breed registry in the United States includes 854,000 horses. The organization formed in 1962. Eligibility is mainly contingent on bloodlines – at least one parent must be a registered Paint, and the other must come from Quarter horse or Thoroughbred bloodlines. The amount and location of color as well as its conformation also determine if a horse is eligible, and the colors are described the same way as a Pinto.
American Paint Horse Association
P.O. Box 961023
Fort Worth, TX 76161-0023
More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!LEARN MORE