Different Types of Horses

There are many types of horses, but they all fall into two common categories: working horses and thoroughbred horses. Thoroughbreds at generally high-strung and are used for racing. Working horses are not as high-strung and can be used for all types of work, from pulling a cart or wagon to working in the fields. While most people do not use horses to work the fields anymore, these horses are still bred for pleasure riding, rodeos and transportation.

Breed Diversity
There are hundreds of different recognized horse breeds in the world today. As with different breeds of dogs, horse breeds are measured according to how well they conform to an ideal type. A Clydesdale, for example, should have a certain height, head shape and characteristic markings, including white hair near the hooves.

All horse breeds are descended from wild horses that are now extinct. The Arabian is one of the oldest breeds. The Sorraria, or Spanish Tarpan, also bears a strong resemblance to its wild ancestors. Only two types of truly wild horses survived into the modern era. The Tarpan went extinct in the late 19th century. Przewalski's Horse is the only horse that was never truly domesticated. These horses are highly endangered, although captive breeding has allowed them to return to the wild in their native Mongolia.

Thoroughbred Horse Types
Thoroughbreds are a cross between native English mares and Arabians. They are bred for their speed and are used mostly for racing. They are also bred for show jumping, dressage, polo and fox hunting.

Thoroughbreds can be cross-bred into other breeds to improve the characteristics of an existing breed or to create something new. Thoroughbred heritage is very influential in the Quarter Horse, which is bred to race the quarter mile, the Standardbred and other warm blood breeds.

Working Horse Types
Work horses, often referred to as cold bloods, are used for slow, heavy work. A draft horse is an example of a working horse. Some ponies are also considered to be working horses. Working horses are generally used for heavy work, such as riding, rodeo work, pulling carriages and police work. Some police horses are thoroughbreds or a cross between a thoroughbred and a working horse. Police horses must be calm, but they must also have the speed of a thoroughbred. 

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