Breeds Info

So Many Breeds, So Little Time

On this webpage the many breeds represented at the park can be found. There is history of each breed, the characteristics most often seen, and the actual horse that represents the breed at the Park. Note: this is just a small sample of the hundreds of horse breeds around the world.

Akhal-Teke

Sleek like a greyhound with origins similar to the Arabian, the Akhal-Teke is a breed that has lasted for two to three thousand years. Best known for their glistening coats, this breed originated in Central Asia. From the very beginning, the Akhal-Teke was designed for the inhospitable, hot, and dry environments of its homeland. Like the Arabian and long ago, the Akhal-Teke used to live as part of the family in the nomadic Teke groups that travelled in Turkmenistan. They lived with their human families, sharing food, water, and shelter. This has made them extremely people-oriented.

Due to its homeland being mostly covered by desert, the Akhal-Teke was bred to have colors that would blend in with its sandy, golden surroundings. Today, the coat colors are all common colors, but shades of gold are preferred. The horses also have long, sleek legs made to run through sand, and slender necks with thin manes to help keep the horse cool in the desert climate. They quickly became the most prized possessions of the Teke.

Though it began as a breed for nomadic tribesmen, the Akhal-Teke caught the eye of the Russians in the twentieth century. Many were taken from their homeland to huge stud-farms run by the government. Eventually, the stud farms were used to slaughter the horses for meat. The tribesmen that released their horses to the desert instead of give their precious horses to the Russians likely kept the purity of the breed intact.

Today with Turkmenistan free of the USSR, the Akhal-Teke is being restored to its former glory. It can be found all over the world and ridden in all disciplines, though racing and endurance riding is the most popular.

Meet the Breed
Here at the park you can come meet Magnatli, the resident Akhal-Teke. He has the best characteristics of his breed: he loves to meet new people and to show his skills to them. Come meet Magnatli and cheer him on as he performs!

For more information on the Akhal-Teke breed, visit http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/akhal-teke/.


American Cream Draft

This beautiful draft breed may not have as illustrious of a history as many European draft breeds do, but it can do anything they can. A truly American breed, a mare named Old Granny became the mother of all Cream Drafts in the early twentieth century. Old Granny had the rare cream coat, amber eyes, and pink skin. When passed down to her offspring, they were specifically bred to keep that pale, beautiful color within the breed. Eventually, there were enough horses with enough popularity that a breed association was formed in 1944.

With the invention of automobiles and heavy farm equipment, the demand for heavy draft breeds significantly declined well into the twentieth century. There seemed to be little use for a type of horse that was made to do the work that cars and tractors could do; they required more care and money than any metal machinery. The American Cream Draft was one of many draft breeds that faced perilous years and even extinction. The breed books closed for several years and did not open again until 1982. Nearly forty years later, the American Cream Draft is still recovering, but it is growing in popularity.

Like most draft horses, the Cream Draft has a heavy head, thick muscling, and feathering on their legs. The most unique feature is the cream coat. The Cream Draft is a bit smaller than most draft breeds, which makes it suitable for riding and not just driving.

Meet the Breed
Sugar Cookie is the resident American Cream Draft. She has the renowned champagne coat color, turning heads as she performs and helping more and more people learn about her breed. Come meet Sugar Cookie at the park!

For more information, visit http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/american-cream-draft/.


American Miniature Horse

The American Miniature Horse, or the American Mini for short, is a breed descended from the hardy mining horses once used in Appalachia. This breed was the result of the cross-breeding of Dartmoor and Shetland ponies brought over from Europe for mining in America. These tiny horses had to be resilient and brave to enter the deep, dark, and dangerous mines to deliver supplies to miners and to bring coal out of the tunnels.

As traditional mining gave way to heavy machinery, the demand for these tough little horses declined. As a result, horse lovers were faced with a distinct type of horse. The breed got its own organization in 1978, and every horse that was small enough and with the right conformation was registered. Though they come in all colors, an American Mini must be thirty-eight inches or less. This height means that only small children can ride them. However, they are mainly used for driving, as they can pull a great deal for their size.

Meet the Breed
Like all of his fellow Minis, Rowdy is small, but he has a personality ten times his size. The resident Mini at the park, you can see Rowdy bossing around his companions and handlers. Rowdy has a black coat and also loves to show off his tricks to grounds. Come meet Rowdy and cheer him on as he performs in the ring!

For more information, visit http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/american-miniature/.


American Morgan Horse

Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry tells the tale of the Morgan Horse’s history. A truly American horse, the Morgan was the first documented horse breed in the United States not long after the country declared independence from England. Justin Morgan was a simple man who was gifted Figure, an unusual stallion. Figure was small, but he was faster than any horse around and could pull and carry astonishing loads. He was also known for his comfortable gaits.

Figure passed on his gentle temperament, handsome looks, and unique gaits to his offspring. As the years wore on, the Morgan Horse we see today was developed. Morgans are used for every kind of riding and driving. They can be seen showing off with their high-stepping gaits in the competition ring or pulling a carriage for a wedding.

Meet the Breed
It may have been over 200 years since Figure was alive, but his legacy lives on in his descendants. One of these descendants is On Second Thought, the resident Morgan of the park. Justin Morgan would be proud to know that steady, reliable temperament of the breed he worked to develop is still seen even in the 21st century. Come see On Second Thought perform at the park!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/morgan-horses-horse-br....


American Paint Horse

Think of the Paint horse and images of Native Americans riding through the plains on the backs if these colorful horses come to mind. While they were certainly favored and bred by the Native Americans for their beautiful and unique coloring, it was the Spanish who brought over the ancestors of this breed to America. Though coloring was the main goal of breeding, hardiness and strength became a prominent feature of the Paint horse when Quarter Horses were introduced into breeding.

Paint horses came in many patterns. There is piebald, skewbald, overo, and tobiano. The first two is less common, with the latter two being the most recognizable of the breed. Piebald is a white and black coat that looks like the colors were poured onto the horse. Skewbald is the same type of pattern but with chestnut or bay and white. Tobiano is the most common pattern. Usually, a tobiano is more of one color than the other, such as more bay than white. The head is usually the dark color with a facial marking, and all four legs are white. Overo horses look like their colors have been splashed onto them. Their heads are usually all white or mostly, and their legs are often all dark.

Today the Paint horse has a prominent presence in the Western riding world. They generally have the stocky body that Quarter horses do. Those who are sleeker like Thoroughbreds are used for English riding.

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/american-paint/.


Paso Fino

A Paso Fino may be small, but it turns heads. Its flowing mane and tail added with its natural, flashy gait makes an impression on everyone who meets a horse of the breed. The Paso Fino, as its name suggests, has Spanish heritage. The breed was the result of crossing the smooth-gaited Spanish Jennet with the majestic Andalusian. The offspring were beautiful, high-stepping, and easy to ride. The rider hardly moves when riding a Paso Fino.

The breed comes in all colors and the appearance is generally the same of all Paso Finos, but bloodlines vary depending on where they come from. The four main countries that have their own bloodlines of Paso Fino are the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombia, and Peru.

Every discipline can be ridden on a Paso Fino, but the most popular riding is that which shows the elegant “fine step” of the breed.

Meet the Breed
Echo CW is the resident Paso Fino at the park. In the showring he shows off his beauty and his skill. Although Echo is shy, he comes out of his shell when presenting his “fine step” to the public.  Come meet the beautiful Echo CW at the park!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/paso-fino/.


American Quarter Horse

Other than the Thoroughbred, the American Quarter Horse is the most recognizable and beloved of horses in the United States. Friendly, gentle, and strong, the Quarter Horse has made waves in the horse world that few other breeds have.

This breed began in the 1800s. As it moved West with the pioneers, the ancestors of modern Quarters were various and undocumented horses. However, the combinations formed a strain of horse that possessed incredible speed over a quarter of a mile. The horses could work all week on the farm and race on the weekends for enthusiastic fans. Over time, the prominent type of Quarter horse became the muscular Western riding horse seen today. Lighter Quarters with Thoroughbred blood are used for jumping and racing.

The official breed organization is the American Quarter Horse Association, or the AQHA. The popularity of the breed is reflected in the fact that the AQHA is the largest breed organization in the world.

All solid colors are found in this breed.

Meet the Breed
The Quarter horse of the park is Pines Loaded Spinner, a sorrel gelding who has been with the Parade of Breeds for ten years. Come see him at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.theequinest.com/breeds/quarter-horse/.


American Saddlebred

Perhaps one of the most flamboyant horse breeds, the American Saddlebred has sent heads turning and hearts drumming for years. From their arched necks and high steps in the show ring to a smooth ride on the trail, Saddlebreds have been in style since the breed began with the independence of the United States from Britain. It was called the “America Horse”, and was a crossbreed of the Narragansett Pacer, a breed now extinct. However, the America Horse inherited the Pacer’s fine gaits.

When the America Horse was brought to Kentucky, it was crossed with local horses. The offspring were strong, elegant horses with flowing gaits. Developing a specific Saddle horse became the goal of many Kentucky horsemen after the War of 1812.

The Civil War highlighted the versatility and true heart of the Saddlebred. Riding horses became war horses when generals of both sides used Saddlebreds as their chief mounts. The horses’ endurance and courage to charge into battle and ability to continue for long days afterwards made the breed all the more popular. In 1891, the American Saddlebred Horse Association was established—the first horse breed registry in the United States. Since the war was finished and the need for war horses decreased, show horses began to increase in popularity. The same horses ridden to war were soon introduced to the show ring, where they awed crowds with their flashy gaits.

Today, the Saddlebred is most recognizable by its pricked ears and high-stepping pace. Saddlebreds can be three-gaited or five-gaited. Three-gaited is a walk, trot, and animated walk. Five-gaited is three-gaited plus two artificial gaits that must be taught to the horse: the slow gait and rack.

The Saddlebred comes in all colors, and are 15hh to 17hh. Though spirited, it is a gentle breed that can be ridden in any discipline and by any experience-level rider.

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/saddlebred/index.html; https://www.asha.net/aboutus/theamericansaddlebred/disciplineanduses/; and http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/saddlebred-horse-breed....


Andalusian

Spanish maidens in colorful gowns riding across fields on grey stallions that exude majesty is the image that may come to mind when the Andalusian is mentioned. With its flowing mane and tail, confident stride, and elegant movement, the Andalusian has been loved for centuries. The breed began when the Moors invaded Spain and bred their Barb horses with native stock. Gorgeous horses with willing temperaments and agility were born.

On the Iberian Peninsula from whence it came and eventually all over the world, the Andalusian was the Spanish horse. Royalty coveted the breed overseas during the Middle Ages while the breed was used for everyday ranch work by the Spanish. As time wore on, the popularity of the Andalusian only increased. The modern showring of every discipline has an Andalusian competing. The disciplines it excels at is dressage and traditional bullfighting in Spain.

Andalusians come in mainly grey shades, though brown and black are occasionally found. Though mighty of heart, the breed is average size, being 15 to 16.2hh.

Meet the Breed
The resident Andalusian of the park is Maluso III. Maluso has been with the park for years, bringing joy and style with his beauty and gentle nature. Now twenty-two years old, Maluso is preparing for a much-earned retirement.

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/andalusian-horse-breed... and http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/andalusian/index.html.


Appaloosa

From the very beginning, the Appaloosa was a truly patriotic horse. Born from descendants of escaped Spanish horses that Christopher Columbus brought over, the spotted coat and hardiness of this breed quickly became the prized possessions of the native Nez Perce tribe. Like many Native American tribes, the horse provided power and ability that they did not have beforehand.

Seeing that the horses provided opportunities they had never had access to before, the Nez Perce became skilled horsemen. From the backs of their carefully bred, spotted horses, hunters could take down game that would have been nearly impossible to kill on foot. Reputation of the beautiful and strong horses quickly took off: settlers began to refer to the horses as “Palouse horses”, naming them after the river where the Nez Perce were located.

The nationwide love of the Appaloosa began after the war between the Nez Perce tribe and the US cavalry in the 1800s. Due to the intelligence, willingness, and endurance of the breed, the Nez Perce were able to lead the Cavalry on a chase for several months. When they were defeated, the tribe was, sadly, forced to give up their beloved horses. The herds were spread all over America, and the breed was no longer regulated.

It was not until 1938 when dedicated fans of the spotted breed began to preserve the breed. To maintain purity and order, the Appaloosa Horse Club was founded.

In the modern world, the Appaloosa is found in all disciplines. They are suitable mounts for children and adults alike due to their kind and patient natures. They have similar conformation as Quarter horses, but they rarely come in solid colors—spots are the trademark of breed, but not the absolute rule.

There are two coat patterns for the Appaloosa that are the most familiar, but combinations are endless. The most common is the blanket. The horse is, generally, a solid color from the horse’s head to a varying length of the back. Beyond that is a white “blanket” over the rest of the horse’s back and rump, or just the rump. Spots most often the same color as the rest of the horse dot the blanket. The second pattern is less common and the most exotic: leopard. The horse’s base coat color is white with spots of a different color covering the horse. Black is the most seen spot color.

The breed tends to be smaller, ranging from 14.2 to 16hh.

Meet the Breed
VKS Thundermoon is the resident Appaloosa of the park. Once a reining horse, Thundermoon now shows off his leopard coat and while his rider presents the attire of his ancestors’ riders. Come meet him Thundermoon at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/appaloosa-horse-horse-... and http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/appaloosa/index.html.


Arabian

The exact origins of the Arabian horse are a mystery, but there is no doubt that it has been one of the most beloved and influential breeds of all time.

Before it emerged from the sands of the Middle East, the Arabian was the greatest accomplishment of the Bedouin tribesmen. Bred to withstand the heat and little forage of its environment, the Arabian was far more than a pack animal or transportation. They were the money of the Bedouins, the war horses, and companions. Owners took immense pride of developing bloodlines, and could recite from memory the lineage of each horse. Arabians were so cherished that they even shared the family tent of the Bedouins. This led them to be extremely people-oriented.  

As the outside world started to encroach on the isolated world of the Bedouin people, Arabian horses became diplomats and spoils of war between different cultures. It is no surprise that the rest of the world fell in love with the spirited, but loyal breed. Thankfully, the purity of the breed has been preserved quite well for all that the breed has seen.

The Arabian did not arrive in America until the eighteenth century, and its popularity has grown exponentially since then. An American Arabian registry was founded in 1908.

Arabians can be found in all disciplines, but they dominate endurance riding due to their immense stamina. Other distinct characteristics include large eyes, “teacup muzzle”, a dished face, and raised tails when they move faster than a walk. All solid colors can be found, in addition to roan. It is also a smaller breed, with most horses standing between 14 to 15.3hh.

Meet the Breed
Lord Rafik is the resident Arabian of the park. Though he is only 14.3hh, Rafik loves to show off his tricks, such as the bow and march. This displays his breed’s notary for being people-oriented and eager to please.

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/arabian-horse-breed.aspx.


Belgian

A descendant from the mighty Flemish horse, the Belgian has become one of the most recognizable and beloved draft breeds. With its large size, kind temperament, and unique color, the Belgian looks to be a larger Haflinger. While the Belgian was certainly developed for a certain purpose as the Haflinger was, they are from very different areas of Europe.

The Belgian’s country of origin is no secret due to the breed’s name. Belgium is home to fertile and abundant pastureland, which no doubt lead to the evolution of such a sturdy breed as the Belgian. The same land that the Belgian grew up on also farmed it, and its popularity quickly grew in its home country. Their favor with the people was noticed by the government, which quickly became involved in establishing breed standards and records. The National Show in the capital, Brussels, became the center of Belgian showing. Only the best of Belgians who had won in the string of shows leading up to the National were present. They represented the breed to the country and the rest of the world.

In the last two decades of the 1800s, the Belgian was officially recognized in America with the establishment of the Association in Wabash, IN. While the favor between Americans and Belgians was slow to grow, it improved at the arrival of the twentieth century. In addition to America, Belgians were exported to other European countries, such as to government-owned stables in Italy and Russia. Belgium earned not only profit for exporting their beloved horses, but a reputation for being a hub of renowned horse breeders.

Until the breakout of WWII, the Belgian steadily grew in popularity. This may have contributed to its continued thriving during the War, when most draft breeds were declining at alarming rates or were stuck in limbo. When the 1980s rolled in, the Belgian was taking the horse world by storm.

In this world today when draft horses seem more like a knight’s steed in a fairy tale rather than actual horses, the Belgian breed continues to bloom. They are used for recreational farming as well as historical representations of farming, and pleasure driving. Like most draft breeds, Belgians are “gentle giants”. Their notable coloring, shades of sorrel with flaxen or white manes and tails, makes them easy to pick out. They stand 16 to 18hh and can pull up to 8000lbs.

Meet the Breed
Jace may look like the mount for Goliath, but he is the farthest thing from a warhorse. Standing at 19.1hh and as one of the residential Belgians of the park, Jace loves to meet visitors. With feet the size of small dinner plates, he may be intimidating to meet, but his charm and beautiful sorrel coloring quickly wins over visitors. Come meet Jace at the Big Barn!

For more information, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/belgian-horse-horse-br... and http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/belgian/index.html.


Chincoteague Pony

If you were a horse crazy child or a book lover, you have likely read Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. However, this little, wild breed is more than an iconic tale for children.

Located on Assateague, a short, narrow island along the coast of Maryland and Virginia, Chincoteague ponies are likely a mix of shipwrecked Spanish horses and horses turned loose from colonists. Assateague is not a tropical island, so only the hardiest horses survived. Over the years, a unique pony breed was developed. They are 14.2hh or smaller, and live off of the sparse grasses of the island. Ownership of these wild ponies are split between Virginia and Maryland.

Since the island is small, the pony herds owned by Virginia are rounded up each year. Stallions, mares, and foals are swum across the channel to mainland Virginia. The foals are auctioned off in order to keep the herd population low enough for the island to sustain the ponies. This may be a sad reality of the Chincoteague breed, but the ponies go to good homes where they are ridden in all disciplines.

The most common color of the Chincoteague is pinto, although all colors are found.

Meet the Breed
Bluegrass has been the resident Chincoteague for seventeen years at the park. After showing off his driving skills to the delighted public for years, Bluegrass is getting ready for retirement. Like most ponies of this breed, Bluegrass has a pinto coat. Come see this park veteran at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/chincoteague-horses-ho....


Clydesdale

Only the most stylish and even-tempered horses get to pull the Budweiser wagon and represent the famous brand in TV commercials. So it is no wonder that Clydesdales were chosen for this role.

The Scottish may be famous for their kilts and swoon-worthy accents, but they should also be recognized for their ability as horse breeders. For they developed the Clydesdale, beginning in Lanarkshire of Scotland, near the Clyde River. Scottish farmers developed the breed to meet their needs for farming, coal mining, and haulage in Glasgow. The strength of the breed and its easy nature won over Scotland, and that love soon spread to England.

The earliest records of breeding for a certain type of horse are seen to go back as far as the 1830s. Stallions could be hired to mate with mares, enabling a breeder to pick and choose bloodlines and conformation. This was a huge benefit for the future of the breed. In 1877, the Clydesdale Horse Society was formed, and its influence touched farther corners of the world. The United States has been one of the most enthusiastic recipients of the Clydesdale.

All draft breeds suffered during the twentieth century as the implementation of mechanized farmwork and transportation occurred. Since few cultures, especially in the United States, need huge horses for farmwork or to haul heavy loads, the Clydesdale evolved into a smaller, more compact horse in the early 1900s. This led to a versatile breed, where it could be used for both driving and riding.

The Clydesdale might be considered the flashiest of draft breeds, only rivaled by the Shire. The white feathering on the legs of a Clydesdale flares when the horse takes a step, which is supposed to be clean and precise, but not high like that of the Saddlebred. Clydesdales are almost all bay with white feathering and other white markings. Today, they are used for pleasure driving and riding. They are 16 to 18hh.

Meet the Breed
TJ is the resident Clydesdale at the park. Refined and friendly, TJ enjoys pulling the trolley with a buddy for park visitors. As he walks, the heavy feather of his legs flash. Come meet TJ at the Big Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/clydesdale/index.html.


The English Shire

If you were to go back in time to the Middle Ages and landed on the edge of a battlefield, chances are that the knights in shining armor would not be riding a sleek Thoroughbred or Quarter horse. Instead, they’d be charging into battle mounted on horses of massive stature and with rippling muscles. Those warhorses are likely the ancestors of the majestic Shire horse.

It is believed that when William the Conqueror came to early England, he brought with him the “Great Horse”. Towering over the average plow and riding horse, members of the Great Horse breed had thick muscle, powerful shoulders and hindquarters, and heavy feathering on their legs. The breed or form of horse quickly became a popular war horse: its bravery and endurance suited the English knight perfectly.

Over the centuries of the Middle Ages, the Great Horse was crossed with other breeds, such as the Flemish horse and Friesian. Henry VIII, though notorious for having several wives, implemented laws to create an actual breed out of the Great Horse’s descendants. Though still used as a war horses when necessary, the descendants of the Great Horse proved to be excellent for farmwork. Their strong bodies and gentle natures made them ideal cart and plow horses.

The 1800s arrived. The world was changing faster than ever before, and the need for horses was changing. Shires became the most popular workhorse of this era. Whether pulling carts through the uneven, crumbling streets of London, plowing a field in the countryside, or even giving a lord’s children a safe ride, the Shire suited every English need. Likewise, the Shire became the draft horse of choice for America when the country began to grow and industrialize.

In developed modern countries there are few reasons to use literal horsepower. While all draft breeds suffered from the decrease in demand for their talents, the Shire has coped extremely well. Smaller Shires are often used for riding, where they can excel at any discipline the average sized horse can. The largest Shires are used for historical demonstrations, drawing carts, and representing the breed in parades.

Shires come in all common solid colors with white legs and heavy feathering. They can be up to 19hh.

Meet the Breed
Royal Ambassador’s Albion is 19 years old and is still as mighty as when he was young. The Shire representative for the park, Albion is kind to his handlers, but he uses his large size to boss around his friends in the field. Come see Albion at the Breeds Barn!

For more information about this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/shire-horses-horse-bre... and http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/shire/index.html.  


Fell Pony

Though it looks like a miniature Friesian, the Fell Pony is its own breed. Pretty and hardy, the Fell Pony has awed horse lovers for centuries.

The Romans and their allied mercenaries were likely responsible for the start of the Fell Pony. The Friesian horses they brought over during their conquests crossed with native horses, which would have been shorter than the average horse of modern day. The descendants of these crosses gained the Friesians favored trot and luxurious mane and tail. They were further shaped by the harsh, northern countryside where they began, too. The name “Fell” is an English term for the hills of the north of England, and it was here where the modern Fell Pony arose.

Today, the Fell Pony is still known for being extremely tough. They are easy-keepers, meaning that they need little more than sufficient pasture, food, water, and shelter to thrive. Similarly, the breed shines in the showring, especially with its iconic trot that is smooth, elegant, and can be maintained for long distances.

The Fell Pony can be up to 14hh. They come in brown, bay, and grey, but black is the most frequent color. They are seen in all disciplines, although English riding is more popular.

Meet the Breed
Tank is the poster boy for the Fell Pony. With his long, flowing black mane and tail and shiny black coat, he is mischievous—the perfect match for experienced, but still-learning riders. Come see Tank at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit  http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/fell-pony-horse-breed.... and http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/fell/index.html.


Friesian

With their wavy, illustrious manes and tails, and their flashy steps, the Friesian is a horse out of a fairytale. They look like sleek draft horses, but move like the most sophisticated showhorse.

The Friesian earned a place in the human heart long before modern day. Its origins are murky, but there is no surprise that the modern breed hails from the Netherlands. Here, they were originally used as farm horses, the thick feathering on their legs shedding water from the damp Dutch land. They supposedly accompanied the Romans to Britain and have been seen in artwork of the Middle Ages. Most breeds as large and well-muscled as the Friesian would have started out as war horses and/or plow horses.

In the 21st century, the Friesian’s glistening raven coat and flashing feathered legs can be seen in all disciplines. They are popular in dressage and carriage driving, the latter being the most traditional. While Friesians are known for being bright and energetic, they are also calm and kind. They are often favored for their easy, ground-covering trots. Only black is allowed in the breed, with the exception of a small white star or snip. A Friesian’s height ranges from 14.3 to 16hh.

Meet the Breed
Tochem is the new resident Friesian to the park. He is a fantastic representative of his breed; he possesses the jet black coat and gorgeous mane and tail. Come meet the park’s rising star at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/fell/index.html.


Gypsy Vanner

A horse that would make any little girl dream of riding away into the sunset, the Gypsy Vanner has it all. Good looks, versatility, gentleness, and an air of mystery all encompass the ever-increasing popular Vanner.

Little is known of the Gypsy Vanner’s origins. It is obvious that draft breeds such as the Clydesdale were involved in the Vanner’s development, but specific breeding and preservation of a Gypsy Vanner began less than a century ago. The people responsible for producing such horses in the first place are the Romany Travelers, or what Hollywood calls the “Gypsies”. For centuries, the Travelers have lived in their colorful wagons whilst traveling the road. Unsurprisingly, many had colorful horses to match. No taller than 15.2hh, Vanners are robust. They can easily pull the large wagons of the Romany.

As the world becomes smaller and closer because of technology and globalization, few Travelers remain fully nomadic, and they are most often found in the British Isles.  It appears that their culture is under threat—except for the horses they helped developed. Today’s Gypsy Vanners grow in popularity. Their luxurious manes and tails along with their loud coloring attract riders and non-horse people alike.

Vanners are seen in all disciplines, yet they seem to excel at driving—perhaps a result of their roots. All colors are seen. Some Vanners will even have tiny mustaches on the bottom of their upper lips.

Meet the Breed
There is no surprise when the resident Gypsy Vanner of the park, Odd Job Bob, is found out to be a movie star. His pinto coloring and confident attitude suit the spotlight extremely well. Bob is also clever and eager to please, much like other Vanners, and he is a quick learner. Come meet Bob at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/gypsy-horses-horse-bre....


The Haflinger

If you have ever wondered what native horse could be seen in the same country where the Sound of Music is set, the Haflinger would be it. Since the Middle Ages the Haflinger has developed and has been preserved since its (suspected) beginnings in the Tyrolean mountain range of Austria. Unique coloring with few variations and shorter height was favored in the native horses. A beautiful but rugged region, the Tyrol Mountains produced a hardy and well-rounded breed of horse.

The Haflinger breed has had little outside influence, and what influence it has received has mostly been Arabian. The modern Haflinger is thought to have begun when a Half-Arabian stallion and native, old-stock Haflinger mare were crossed. The resulting foal was Folie, who is credited with being the founding sire of the modern Haflinger.

The Haflinger is now found all over the world and participates in all disciplines. Due to its refined stoutness and medium size, the breed is a favorite for driving enthusiasts. The only colors found are shades of chestnut, and a Haflinger is not to exceed 15hh. Haflingers are known for their expressive eyes and patient attitudes, making them ideal mounts for inexperienced or young riders.

Meet the Breed
Maple Grove Captain is the resident Haflinger at the park. His favorite thing to do is to show off his breed’s signature golden coat and white mane and tail as he performs in the Parade of Breeds. His fun personality makes him popular with his handlers and the public alike. Come see Captain at the Breeds Barn!

For more information, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/haflinger/index.html and http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/halfinger-horses-horse....


Icelandic Horse

Pillaging, raiding, master shipbuilders, inventors, and terrifying warriors are what the Vikings are best known for being. Establishers of a mighty horse breed is not one of them. However, the Icelandic Horse is the best kept secret of Iceland since the Vikings brought the ancestors of the breed to Iceland in the ninth century.

From the ninth century until the modern day, the Icelandic horse has enjoyed the benefits of isolation: Iceland has no natural predators, disease for horses is nearly nonexistent, and being the only horse breed of the island had given the Icelandic horse a special bond with Icelanders. They have been and still are used for everything from farm-work and transportation, to being pampered pets.

Standing no more than 14hh, the Icelandic horse may appear as a pony, but anatomically the breed is all horse. It can do anything a horse can do; the breed’s short and compact, but sturdy stature is not to be underestimated. Developing in the rugged landscape of Iceland, the horses must be tough and strong. The strength of the breed is shown through the larger horses’ abilities to bear the weight of full-grown adults. The stamina of the breed is also incredible, in that an Icelandic horse can travel long distances without tiring.

The Icelandic horse is difficult to overlook. Its small size with bright eyes is overruled by its immense intelligence and love for people. The rare, double-sided mane of the breed is second in its uniqueness to the special gaits of the breed. These are the tolt (running walk) and skold (flying pace). All Icelandic horses are born with the ability to tolt, but a few are also born with the ability to perform the skold. The horses that perform the skold can reach up to 30mph.

While the breed is no longer as isolated as it was centuries ago, strict regulations are in place to preserve the purity of the Icelandic horse. For example, no horse that has ever left Iceland is allowed to return. Horses outside of Iceland are not allowed into the country.

Icelandic horses come in all colors. Two-sided manes and thick tails are also preferred in the breed.

Today, the breed can be seen everywhere doing all disciplines, but it remains the beloved national treasure of Iceland.

Meet the Breed
As cute as his name implies, Teddy is the resident Icelandic horse at the park. In the Parade of Breeds, he performs the tolt and shows off his intelligence by testing his riders. Come meet Teddy at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/icelandic-horse-horse-... and http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/icelandic/index.html.


Lipizzaner

Best known for being the stars of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria, the Lipizzan, or Lipizzaner, is a breed straight out of a dream. More often white than not, this breed has captured hearts for over 500 years.

The Lipizzaner was first developed when the Moors took over Spain and began to breed their Arabians to native Spanish horses. The result was an athletic, elegant, confident breed that quickly caught the attention of royalty. Maximillian II of Austria especially coveted the breed. In the 1560 and ‘80s, he and his brother established studs. Maximillian’s stud was in what is now the Czech Republic, and his brother’s was in Slovenia. The former’s horses were heavier, therefore more suited for carriage driving, while the latter’s horses were lighter and more suited for riding. Both studs became a points of pride for the Hapsburg Empire. They still thrive today.

The demand for these horses were high, and their popularity only grew during wartime. “Classical riding” as it has become known, was first started to teach war horses defensive and offensive movements. Lipizzaners became renowned for excelling at the complicated movements, one of which required the horse to stand on its hind legs and then launch itself into the air to protect its rider.

Courageous war horses eventually found themselves replaced by machines on the battlefield. Although the Renaissance returned interest in classical riding, it evolved into an art rather than training for cavalries. Today, classical riding can be seen at its finest at the Spanish Riding School.

The Lipizzaner is loved by people of all nations for their beauty and docility. Though it can perform all disciplines, dressage is the preferred. Lipizzaners were bred to prioritize the grey or white coat color. They are usually born a darker color, but will whiten as they age. Very few bays or blacks are ever seen. Lipizzaners range in height from 14.3 to 15.3hh.

Meet the Breed
Beamer, the resident Lipizzaner of the park, is obviously descended from royalty—with a registered name like Neapolitano IV La Sada, it is no surprise. And like royalty, Beamer proudly presents his rider’s costume as he takes them around the ring in the Parade of Breeds. He displays the favored grey coat and gentle temperament. Come see Beamer at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/lipizzan/index.html.


Marwari

With its curved ears and grace, the Marwari is truly a one-of-a-kind breed. In its home country of India, it is a common occurrence. In foreign countries (especially in the Western hemisphere), the Marwari is as beautiful and exotic as India itself.

The breed is ancient, having been mentioned in literature, art, and oral tradition from Rajasthan, the state of India from which it originates, thousands of years ago. Arabians were undoubtedly involved in the development of the breed. This resulted in a breed that could withstand harsh conditions and look beautiful while doing so.

Like most horse breeds, the Marwari was originally bred to be a war horse. The ancient tribes of India cherished their loyalty, protectiveness, and stamina in battle. Some stories even claim that Marwaris would stare down elephants.

The modern world may have changed a great deal, but India’s love for its native breed remains and has spread over the world. They are rarely seen in the US. When they are, they delight horse lovers and casual observers with their sleek beauty, colorful coats, and gentle nature. They are most often seen at parades or ceremonies in foreign nations, while in India they are also used in cities to pull horse-drawn cabs.

The Marwari comes in all colors, and are up to 16hh.

Meet the Breed
Pretty in both coat color and her curved ears, Ashwarya is the treasured resident Marwari at the park. She loves the crowds cheering her on as she goes around the arena in her native costume. Come see her at the Parade of Breeds!

For more information, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/marwari/index.html.


Mountain Pleasure Horse

The Appalachian area of Eastern Kentucky are as nearly shadowed in mystery today as it was in the 1800s. One of its best kept secrets, however, has only just recently come into the light: the Mountain Pleasure Horse.

With the steep hills and rugged terrain of the Appalachian region, horses were the best way to travel. And since town and farms were often miles apart, long rides were necessary. Early Kentuckians needed a breed that was sure-footed, easy to train, smooth, and tireless. The Mountain Pleasure horse was developed, though it did not have this name at the time. Visitors to Appalachia were awed by the smooth, lateral-gaited horses found there. Breeding between native stock and outside horses began, aiding in the evolution of the Tennessee Walking Horse and the American Saddlebred. Only recently in the 1980s has the Mountain Pleasure horse been recognized as an official breed.

The Mountain Pleasure horse is best known for its single-foot gait. This is a lateral four-beat gait that is extremely comfortable to ride. It is completely natural, and cannot be taught to horse not bred for it. The gait can also be maintained for many miles, something which modern trail riders value.

Today, the Mountain Pleasure horse is 14.2 to 16hh. The horses come in all colors, but spotted and pinto are discouraged. They are mainly favored by trail riders, but can be seen in all disciplines.

Meet the Breed
Rockin’ R’s El Vira is the resident Mountain Pleasure horse at the park. She performs her single-foot gait for audiences, and loves every minute. Come see El Vira at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://mountainpleasurehorseassociation.com/history/ and http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/mountain-pleasure-hors....


Norwegian Fjord

The Vikings were undeniably ferocious warriors, but imagine them on a horse while fighting. Now, they are twice as invincible. The horses they likely would have ridden would have been the compact Norwegian Fjord.

 As the name suggests, the Fjord is from Norway, a gorgeous but cool and mountainous country. The summers are short and sweet, and the winters long and freezing. It is no surprise that a small and drafty, but sturdy breed was bred by the Vikings. These famous shipbuilders and raiders must have favored the dun color, because Fjords only come in shades of dun, today.

As colonists, the Vikings brought their horses with them when they travelled to new lands. The people of mainland Europe used the Fjord for farming. Their tough natures and heavy muscle made them suitable for almost all work.

While the breed remained pure in Norway since its beginning and efforts were made overseas to keep offspring pure, the first, official Fjord breeding program was started in the late 1800s. Today, there are breed registries in every country that has imported Fjords.

The Norwegian Fjord is a favorite riding and carriage horse. Their coloring is unique, with every horse being a shade of dun. Perhaps their most notable feature is their roached mane. This is done to show off the striped in their manes. They also have dorsal stripes down their backs and across their lower legs, along with black fetlocks. They range in height from 13.1 to 14.2hh.

Meet the Breed
Sean is the poster boy for the Norwegian Fjord at the park. He loves to get to know the crowd after he performs in his Viking costume. His dark gold coat and darker dorsal stripe are admired, too. Come meet Sean at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/norwegianfjord/index.html.


Palomino

Once, it was a rare, golden color on a horse that was coveted by the rich and powerful. Now, it is a beloved color breed that is treasured by all whom it meets. It is the Palomino.

The Palomino breed has been around for far less a time than the color itself. The first, official Palomino breed registry came about in the 1930s. Enthusiasts for the color came together to form the Palomino Horse Breeders of America (PBHA). In this organization, a horse with the palomino horse color and who meets the standards can be registered. Most of the horses registered are American horses, such as the Quarter Horse and Morgan.

The Palomino is seen in all disciplines and is found all over the world. It can be spotted by its golden coat, and mostly white mane and tail. To be registered with the PBHA, the horse must be 14 to 17hh.

Meet the Breed
Hank is the resident Palomino and trick horse of the park. His coat, the color of a shiny gold coin, shimmers in the sun when he rears on command during the Parade of Breeds. Come see Hank at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/palomino/index.html.


Percheron

Mighty in every way, the Percheron is a draft breed that had been loved for centuries. Little is known of the Percheron’s exact origins, save for the breed being from the Le Perche region of France. It is believed that Arabian stallions were bred to native mares in the 700s, and the practice continued into the Middle Ages. By then, a distinct breed with immense size, power, and ability had been developed.

Like most draft breeds, the Percheron was used as a warhorse in the days of nights and medieval cavalry. Their incredible power made it difficult for enemies to withstand a charge of these horses, and their courage and stamina was coveted by mounted knights. They likely did not stand as tall in the Middle Ages as they do now. Their incredible size today would have made it difficult for such athleticism as they would have had to perform on the battlefield.

The first official breeding of Shires was in the nineteenth century, when a state stud was made by the French government. It quickly became the hub of Percheron breeding, mostly due to Jean Le Blanc, the founding sire of the modern breed. Not long after, the Percheron mad its way to America. It became the beloved draft breed of Americans. Whether it pulled fire wagons or the plow, the Percheron was the “It” draft of America.

When WWII came along, there was much less need for the Percheron, and the breed was in grave danger of becoming extinct. Due to the Amish and other enthusiastic fans, the breed survived to today, where it is making an exponential comeback.

In the modern day, the Percheron shows off its versatility and usefulness. Though few are ridden given to their immense size, some are. Percherons are mainly shown in carriage classes or in halter classes. They can be seen pulling carriages in cities, pulling sleighs through a country snow, or pulling a plow in Amish country. Like the Clydesdale, the Percheron is also popular for companies to advertise with.

Percherons come in gray or black, and stand 15 to 19hh. They are known as “gentle giants”, meaning that despite their intimidating size, they have kind and patient natures.

Meet the Breed
Jaegar’s Link, or Tiny, is the resident Percheron at the park. He may stand at 18.3hh, but he is as sweet as a lapdog. His favorite thing is to seek out treats from people’s pockets. Come and see Tiny at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/percheron/index.html and http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/percheron-horses-horse....


Standardbred

When Hambletonian 10 was foaled in 1849, the horse world was changed forever. Hambletonian became the founding sire of the fastest harness horse breed in the world, the Standardbred.

For years, the Morgan horse has reigned as king in harness racing. Hambletonian’s sons and daughters shattered Morgan horse records with their two-beat lateral gaits. The name “Standardbred” came from the rule that a horse wanting to be registered as a Standardbred has to be able to complete a mile in three minutes.

The modern Standardbred is raced as a trotter or pacer. The tracks are typically a mile long and the racing is all over the world. While most Standardbreds are raised to be raced, many retired horses go on to compete in all disciplines.

Standardbreds are usually 15.3hh, and come in all solid colors.

Meet the Breed
Mr. Muscleman is a champion Standardbred. As a young horse, he was an incredible trotter, winning a million dollars in two non-consecutive years, the one of only two Standardbreds to do so. Come see Mr. Muscleman at the Hall of Champions!

For more information, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/standardbred/index.html and http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/standardbred-horses-ho....


Suffolk Punch

Most Americans would not know this breed by sight, unlike the Clydesdale or Shire. Smaller than most draft breeds and perhaps, not as elegant, the Suffolk Punch has remained the secret of Great Britain since the nineteenth century.

When the Suffolk was first being developed in the 1700s, it was by the farmers of the Suffolk region of England. They needed sturdy, strong horses that could pull plows and other equipment through the thick clay of the region. The founding sire of the breed, Ufford, was born in 1768.

The Suffolk remained isolated for many years. Even when it was slowly imported to America, the breed continued to be rare. When a new world began after WWII, the Suffolk suffered greatly, and the American Association closed for a few years. The 1960s brought about a renaissance for draft breeds. The Suffolk, along with other breeds, began to grow again and the Association opened its doors again. Since then, the Suffolk has continued to thrive in both America and Europe.

Shades of chestnut is the only color allowed. Small white markings are also allowed. Suffolks range in height from 16.1 to above 17hh.

Meet the Breed
Laura is the resident Suffolk of the park. She is a great representative of the breed with her sorrel coat, little feathering on her legs, and powerful muscles. She helps pull visitors in the trolley. Come meet Laura at the Big Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/suffolk/index.html.


Tennessee Walking Horse

Perhaps the most famous of the gaited American breeds, the Tennessee Walking Horse is revered in the glittering show ring and on the rugged trail. Its smooth and dazzling gait has won over many horse lovers for life.

First started to help the residents of Tennessee in the 1800s, the Walking Horse was required to be versatile. It had to be able to pull plows, take the family to church on Sunday in a buggy, navigate steep and rocky trails, and handle long distance rides without tiring or making its rider’s backside sore. The result of cross-breeding Standardbreds, Thoroughbreds, Canadian and Narragansett Pacers, the Walking Horse delivered all and more.

Their most prominent feature is the running walk. The horses of this breed seem to float above the ground as they perform the square four-beat gait, where each hind foot will over-track the front foot before it. The head bobs in time. This natural gait is exaggerated in the show-ring, where the horse’s knees can lift up extremely high. Note: efforts are being made to stop abuse of this gait. The two other gaits are the flat-foot walk and the rocking chair gait, or canter. Both are smooth, with the latter being a rolling motion at canter speed.

Walkers are tough and surefooted. They have immense intelligence and love people. They can do anything a non-gaited horse can, although they are most popular for trail riding and showing. All solids colors are found, and the horses are up to 16hh.

Meet the Breed
Brother Oh Brother is the most pleasant Walking Horse to meet. He loves the crowds of the park and enjoys showing off his running walk. Come see Brother at the Breeds Barn!

For more information on this breed, visit http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/profiles/tennessee-walking-hors....


Thoroughbred

Without the Thoroughbred, the horse racing as we know it today would not exist. Even the famous Kentucky Derby might not have been conceived. Thankfully, three visionaries brought about a breed that has made the horse racing world what it is today.

The history of the Thoroughbred begins with the founding of three founding lines. The Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian, and Byerly Turk, named after their owners, were bred to native English mares in the last years of the 1600s. Their offspring, each line a bit different than the other, generally produced horses that were hardy, beautiful, and who possessed incredible speed. Although the new type of horse was perfect for the growing racing world, records were unkempt.

James Weatherby changed this when he released the first General Stud Book in 1791. It was the first of its kind for the Thoroughbred, and it changed the face of the breed. Gone were the days of only dedicated owners knowing whom was bred to whom and what foal was produced; now came the days of serious breeding. To this day, Weatherby’s descendants continue to produce the General Stud Book for the Jockey Club.

Less than a century later, America was being swept up in the beauty and thrill of Thoroughbred horse racing. The American Stud Book was released in 1873 by a fan of American Thoroughbred breeding; the Jockey Club took his place in 1896. Stud books are extremely important to the Thoroughbred: every foal that is born, every race that grown foal runs, and every offspring it produces (if it does) is recorded. This creates a massive network not only between America and England, but other nations with top Thoroughbred industries.

Arguments are made that the racing world is not as loved, respected, and successful as it once was. However, it can be said that the Thoroughbred is far from obsolete. Thoroughbred racing careers are notoriously short, with few becoming millionaires or, when retired, famous studs and broodmares. Recently, the need for second careers for Thoroughbreds has been gaining support and recognition. Organizations and devoted individuals spend time, money, and effort to give racehorses a second career and new life. The horses are trained for all disciplines, and most thrive in their new occupations.

All solid colors can be found in this breed, and the horses can stand up to 16hh.

Meet the Breed
Funny Cide is a familiar name to those who follow the horse racing world. At the age of 3, Funny Cide won two out of three Triple Crown races. That same year, he was Champion Three-Year-Old Male of the United States. Come visit Funny Cide at the Hall of Champions!

For more information, visit http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/thoroughbred/index.html and http://www.kyhorsepark.com/equine-theme-park/walking-barn-tour/hall-cham....