10 Types of Horses & Ponies

Some may think they’re all the same, but there are actually many different types of horses in the world. From riding to driving, bullfighting to pets, every type of horse and pony is bred for a specific purpose.

Types of Horses & Ponies

Light Horses

Height: 14.2 hands or taller
Weight: 900-1500 lbs.
Use: Pleasure and performance riding & driving
Description: Almost all modern breeds of light horse trace their origins back to Arabians and Thoroughbreds. Because of this, they’re often referred to as “hot-blooded”. They tend to be spirited and athletic and make excellent mounts for all riding disciplines. They’re often crossed with heavy horses or ponies to suit a wider range of uses.

All of the Fastest Horse Breeds and many of the 13 Common American Horse Breeds are considered Light Horses.

Heavy (Draft or Draught) Horses

Height: 16 – 21 hands
Weight: 1400 to 2000 lbs
Use: Pleasure and performance driving, farm work and logging
Description: Heavy horses are referred to as “cold-blooded”, and often have docile, dependable temperaments. While they were once a necessity for farming, today they are often owned solely for pleasure.

Because of their declining use, many of the 35 Rare Horse Breeds are Heavy Horses.


Height: Less than 14.2 hands
Weight: 300-1200 lbs.
Use: Pleasure and performance riding & driving
Description: Small and sturdy, ponies make excellent mounts for both children and adults. They are also surprisingly fast and agile, often competing against full-sized horses in riding events.

Many Canadian Horse Breeds are ponies due to their strong, hardy nature that helps them thrive in a cold climate.

types of horses


Height: 15.2 – 18 hands
Weight: 1250-1450 lbs
Use: Jumping, Dressage, 3 Day Eventing
Description: Warmbloods are considered to be mid-weight, and carry the bloodlines of both hot and cold-blooded horses in their distant lineage. This gives them the stamina, strength and size to excel in many equestrian events. Most warmblood breeds originated in Europe, but they are popular mounts around the world.

More From Savvy Horsewoman:  7 Smallest Horse & Pony Breeds

Many of the Best Horse Breeds for Jumping are Warmbloods.

Sport types of horses

Sport Horses

Height: 15.2 – 18 hands
Weight: 1250-1450 lbs
Use: Jumping, Dressage, 3 Day Eventing
Description: Many sport horses closely resemble Warmbloods, but can have a more varied lineage. For example, the Canadian Sport Horse Association approves and registers Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds and even some ponies!

The Zangersheide – (Zang Horse) is another good example of a Sport Horse.

Stock Horses (Cow Horses)

Height: 14 – 16 hands
Weight: 900-1200 lbs.
Use: Ranch Work, Trail Riding, Western Events
Description: Stock horses are compact, muscular, and agile, making them ideal for ranch work. The American Quater Horse is a common stock horse breed that excels in many Western Events.

The American Stock Horse Association has competitions for Pleasure, Trail, Reining and Working Cow Horse.

types of horses

Gaited Horses

Height: 14 -16 hands
Weight: 900 – 1,200 lbs.
Use: Pleasure Riding and Driving
Description: While all types of horses can walk, trot, canter and gallop, Gaited Horses naturally have an additional gait. A pacing or ambling gait produces a smooth, fast ride that is comfortable for long periods of time in the saddle.

Baroque Horses

Height: 14.2 – 16.2 hands
Weight: 900 – 1,200 lbs.
Use: Dressage, Bull Fighting, Driving
Description: Descending from war horses during the Baroque era in Europe, these horses are strong, agile, and now make excellent mounts for classical dressage. In Spain, Barque-type horses are the traditional mount for bullfighting.

The Baroque Horse Association lists 8 eligible breeds for the registry.

types of horses

Miniature Horses

Height: 34–38 inches at the withers
Weight: 150 – 350 lbs.
Use: Pets, Driving and Showing
Description: Often confused with small ponies, miniature horses are selectively bred to maintain the body proportions of a horse in a much smaller package. Because of their size, they are only suitable to be ridden by very small children but are popular as farmyard pets.

More From Savvy Horsewoman:  Fastest Horse in the World (2022)

Miniatures like Einstein Horse have even set world records for their small size!

Wild Horses

Height: 12 – 15 hands
Weight: 500 – 1,000 lbs.
Use: Breed Preservation
Description: There are very few true wild horses breeds in the world today, and many are protected to prevent either extinction or overpopulation. Some breeds, such as Mustangs, are routinely caught and trained, making excellent ranch horses.

Want to learn more about Horse Breeds & Types? Check out Horse Breed Abbreviations.

Which types of horses are your favourite?

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Types of Horses

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