Horses have long been a stable and reliable animal for humans to rely on to make their lives easier. Though horses are not as prevalent in our everyday activities today as they once were, they still remain both a robust farm animal as well as an excellent companion for certain activities. Currently in the United States, the four most popular breeds are; the American Quarter Horse; the American Paint Horse, Arabian Horses, the American Thoroughbred.
American Quarter Horse:
A saddled Quarter Horse, it became one of the dominant equine of the West.
The American Quarter Horse is the most popular breed of horse in the United States but it has also been exported to places like Europe and South America because they are so versatile. With more than 4 million animal registered with the American Quarter Horse Association, they are a favorite among riders because of their speed and agility, not to mention their compact and robust bodies, all of which make them excellent competitors in rodeos and horse shows or for working on farms and ranches. Originally bred in the original Atlantic colonies as a mix of European Thoroughbred and native varieties of horse, they were used early on as racehorses, competing against one another on quarter miles drag strips (hence the name QUARTER horse). However, as Americans began to move west in the nineteenth century, these compact and powerful animals became ideal counterparts to the indigenous horses of the great plains and western states. As a result, they became on of the most trusted equines of the wild west, mounted by cowboys and lawmen alike.
American Paint Horse:
An American Paint Horse grazes in its home on the American Frontier.
American Paint Horses are perhaps the fastest growing breed of horse in the United States today. The American Paint Horse Association which registers animals of this breed is swelling with entries from all over the nation. Paint Horses are distinct because each one has its own unique coat of smeared colors ranging from red to brown to white; however some foals have been reportedly a solid color at their birth they usually develop a distinctive coat as they grow. The origins of the Paint Horse come from the American frontier when westerners first began breeding native horses with Quarter Horses (also giving them Thoroughbred bloodlines) from excellent pedigrees. The result was, much like the Quarter Horse before it, a strong and compact animal also capable of great speed and agility. Also not surprisingly, like its close relative the Quarter Horse, Paint Horses are commonly used in equine events as well as work animals on ranches and farms across the western states.
An Arabian Horse being ridden in a horse show where they are a rider favorite.
The Arabian Horse or Arab Horse is among the oldest and most respected species of horse in the entire world. Domesticated from a wild ancestor that roamed the Arabian Peninsula, archaeological evidence of their use by man has been found dating back to almost 3000 B.C.E. An extremely versatile breed, Arabs are commonly used for endurance riding or other strenuous activities as they are posses great strength and stamina. Arabs are also very alert and easy to handle, key characteristics needed during battle as they were the favorite war horse of many Middle-Eastern Armies. Not surprisingly, these characteristics also makes Arabs ideal for many skilled equine competitions including show jumping, eventing, and dressage. Since their domestication, Arabs have spread throughout the world to places like the United States, Brazil, Australia and much of continental Europe.
A Thoroughbred racehorse being ridden on a turf track.
Thoroughbreds are probably the most recognizable horse to Americans because are they are the traditional racehorse (the ones with jockeys) seen competing in races like the Kentucky Derby. Thoroughbreds are possibly the most popular breed in the world because of their versatility. In addition to sustaining the billion dollar industry of horse racing, they are a favorite among many riding competitions and events such as show jumping, combined training, dressage, polo, and fox hunting as they are extremely dexterous and have a resilient spirit. Thoroughbreds are oddly enough, a mix of different horse breeds. Beginning in the 1600s most likely, English horsemen began breeding Arabian Stallions to native mares, resulting in not only strong but swift offspring. Interbreeding for certain genes has been a common practice among many Thoroughbred owners (mainly for racing purposes) and while it has increased their size and strength, it has come at a cost to many animals’ health who can develop a number of different complications.
From my experience, quarter horses are by far the most popular. They are normally calm and can do a wide range of disciplines – from western to dressage and even english showjumping. Overall, they remain a favorite because of their medium size and agreeable behavior.
The American paint horse is one of the most popular among non-racers, for a combination of its temperment and ease of riding.
I hope this helped!
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