5 Small Horse Breeds

Small Horse Breeds

The first question that will pop in your mind is ‘Why go for a small or short horse anyway?’ 

Well, why not? As much as it is difficult for a regular-heightened man to get on a regular horse (that well, seems too tall), it gets easier to ride a small horse. Not only are they easy to groom, but they are also comfortable and ideal rides for kids and novices that recently realized ‘I want to learn horse riding now!’.

Without further ado, below is a list of 5 small horse breeds with an excellent temperament that makes them much more easygoing and easy to travel with, rather than just the small height.

Before that, let us get to know a little about the average height of a horse, ’cause how are we to compare after all?


What is the average height of a regular horse? 

Measuring at the withers, a regular horse can measure between 15-17 hands. Some breeds, however, can easily exceed 18 hands. What exactly is a hand? A hand is equivalent to 4 inches.

The largest horses measuring about 18 hands or more include Draft Horses such as Clydesdale, Shire, Belgian, etc. 

The smallest of horses, on the other hand, can measure as less as 8-9 hands such as Falabella and Shetland. 


Icelandic Horses 

Small Horse Breeds

Famous for their convenient size, and strong build, the Icelandic Horses weigh around 730-840 lb with an average height of 130-142 cm which is more like a pony’s size. Although the Icelandic Horses are small and at times pony-sized, the breeders and registries always refer to the Icelandics as horses, because of their spirited temperament and large personality.

Icelandic horses have a straight profile with a well-proportioned head and broad forehead. They have short, muscular, neck broad at the base; deep chest with slightly sloping muscular shoulders; short and strong legs; back long; their tail and mane are full, with coarse hair. 

To survive in cold temperatures, Icelandic horses developed a double coat for extra insulation. With more than 40 colours and huge variations, the Icelandic Horses have a charming look and are one of the most colourful breeds in the world.

They are found in a wide variety of colours including red and black, with variation in shades like silver dapple, skewbald, dun, roan and among all the colours, the changing roan is rarely found in Icelandic horses. They have beautiful eyes, and some of the Icelandic horses have light blue coloured eyes, which is why they are referred to as glass-eyed.

Mesmerizing, right?

Icelandic horses are known all over the world for their friendly attitude, life-long loyalty and they are also adventurous, smart and quick learners. Handing an Icelandic horse is easy, and they are extremely cooperative both on the ground and while riding. 

Their great spirit, power and stamina make them a perfect choice for travelling long distances on hard terrain. 

Icelandic Horses have a great willingness to learn and work, and with their intelligence, they can learn new skills quickly. These smartypants (eh!) smartly adapt tasks, and they power up and tune down according to the requirements.

The Scandinavians from the Vikings Age were the first of civilizations to bring these small horses to Iceland (of course). In a period revolving from 860 AD – 930 AD, the Icelandic Horses rose in population while actively being used by the people from the Vikings age for several purposes. 

The majestic breed is so well-acclaimed that it is mentioned in literature and historical records.  They are often talked about in the history of Iceland, and there is information scattered about them all around in Icelandic history and texts.

Being one of the purest horse breeds in the world, the Icelandic horses were isolated in the North Atlantic and were bred without any genetic input from other breeds. This breed is developed in Iceland and is only found in Iceland. One of the purest to trod the Earth!


Haflinger Horses

Haflinger Horses

Haflinger Horses are short horses with a stocky build, and strong hooves and legs. They have a compact average height of 137-152 cm and weigh around 800-1300 lb. These horses live for about 25-30 years, and they can live more with good care. 

Though they have a small build, they are sturdy and strong, capable of carrying full-sized adults and are best for trail riding, driving and dressage.

The Haflinger Horses are originally from South Tyrol. These horses are the real all-rounders among horses because of their character and physique. They have a well proportioned and muscular body with a refined head, light pole, sloping shoulder, neck of a medium length, pronounced withers, deep chest, clean legs with broad, and flat knees. Huff! And finally appreciable and powerful hocks. 

Haflinger is chestnut coloured with shades ranging from light gold to rich gold or liver hue; their mane and tail are cream or white-coloured.

Haflinger are quiet, gentle, with eagerness to learn and please; they are one of the most tolerant horse breeds in the equine of today’s world. With their high intelligence Haflingers can easily adapt to their environment and are able to learn new skills and tasks very quickly.  The Haflinger is an outgoing, friendly breed of horses that can be easily acclimated to any purpose.

Also known as Avelignese, the Haflinger breed came to existence in the late 19th century. Having been developed in North Italy and Austria, Avelignese were extensively bred and used for myriad purposes.

Haflinger originally comes from South Tyrol, and they are found in Austria, Bavaria and Northern Italy, only.


Gypsy Vanner Horses

Gypsy Vanner Horses
“This Photo” by Peter O’Connor is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

In general, a Gypsy Vanner Horse has an average height ranging from 132-163 cm, but in Ireland and continental Europe, the desired height limit goes up to 168 cm. They weigh around 1,000-1,700 lb. 

Gypsy Horses are generally defined as small draught horses who are specially designed for strength and power, with class, presence and style. On average, a Gypsy Vanner lives for about 20-25 years, with good care they can live more.

Gypsy Horses are popular around the world for their excellent temperament. The identical beautiful feathering on the legs and eye-catching coats makes it easier to recognize them, setting them apart from other horse breeds. 

They have a strong and muscular neck of medium length; broad, deep and muscular chest, sloping shoulder. Their legs are abundantly feathered and a thick tail and mane. The Gypsy Horses have a variety of colours including black, white, buckskin, bay, skewbald, piebald and chestnut; some of them also have extremely beautiful blue eyes.

Their mane is silky and straight (they give major hair care goals!). However, to maintain its beautiful appearance and health of the skin and coat, regular grooming is necessary, which includes brushing and bathing.

The Gypsy Horses are docile, known for their gentle and comfortable temperament, which makes them highly easygoing. Even beginners and kids can ride Gypsy Horses confidently without as much as feeling a slight hint of discomfort.

Being a quick learner, they can quickly learn new tricks and skills, so they are good companions for people who are seeking horses that are easy to work with. Gypsy Horses are always ready to please, and they are a pleasure to be around.

The Gypsy Vanner Horse, also known as the Irish Cob, Tinker Horse, Gypsy Cob breed originated in Great Britain and Ireland and was popular amongst the Romany Gypsies. The sturdy built allows them to easily pull gypsy caravans. They can often be spotted navigating next to their guardians or owners.

The Gypsy Horses were officially recognized as a breed in 1996. They were introduced to the world by Dennis and Cindy Thompson of Ocala, and on November 24th 1996, the world’s first registry for selective breeding of Gypsy Vanner was established and developed by British Gypsies.

The Gypsy Horses are found in Great Britain and Ireland.


Fjord Horses

Fjord Horses
“This Photo” by Shadowgate is licensed under CC BY 4.0

The Fjord Horses are one of the world’s oldest breeds. Although they are comparatively smaller than a regular horse breed, their agility and strength make them one of the most sought horse breeds in Western Norway.

A Fjord has a height ranging between 135-150cm with an average weight of about 880-1,100 lb. Although they are small in size, they are capable of carrying an adult human and pulling heavy loads. 

They can live for almost 30 years.

The Fjord Horses have a strong, muscled and arched neck, sturdy legs, relatively small head with a broad forehead and a concave form of the nasal bridge. They have long and thick, right up mane, which requires regular grooming – it mainly emphasizes the shape of the neck.

The Fjord Horses are found in a wide variety of colours and shades including light brown, red dun, grey dun, yellow dun and white dun.

Fjord Horses have great charm and intelligence; they are gentle and thus an ideal choice for beginners. They are one of the most cooperative, dependable and calm horse breeds; they are people-oriented and sell for attention.

Fjord Horses also have the willingness to learn and work, and their intelligence helps them learn skills quickly. These horses are ideal for people who are looking for a family friend, a riding or a light draft horse.

Fjord Horse is one of the purest and oldest breeds in the world; they were originally bred in the west region of Norway. Long back before 1860 when the roads of Western Norway were poor, the Fjord Horses gained popularity and importance for transportation over mountains. They were light and agile – well suited for steep and rough terrain. Fjords were used in Norwegian farms and were even ridden by Vikings in wars. Cool, yes?

The Fjord Horses are restricted to Western Norway.


Class B Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses

The Kentucky Mountain Horse is a strong, elegant and athletic breed, with a high amount of stamina. They have varying body sizes from small to medium size, and an average size between 112-145 cm, weighing about 950-1,200 pounds. This powerful and beautiful animal is ready to serve the whole family and is comfortable with kids and adults to ride through the countryside. 

Their average lifespan is between 25-30 years.

Kentucky Mountain Horses have a medium stature; their bodies are well-muscled with a flat facial profile, broad forehead, muscular deep, wide chest, well arched graceful neck with sloping shoulders and flat withers. They are perfect for pleasure riding, general riding and work. The Kentucky Mountain Horses are available in all solid colours including black, brown, dun, chestnut, cremello, champagne, grullo and perlino.

With a fantastic personality, the Kentucky Mountain Horse is also an easygoing breed. They have a gentle, sweet and calm temperament which makes them people’s favourite. Kentucky’s are intelligent and have the eagerness to learn new skills, and they can be trained easily.

They are extremely active and powerful, which makes them popular among people. They make a loyal, loving companion for families and riders.

The Kentucky Mountain Horses are bred for their smooth gait, calm demeanour, power and versatility, by the people of Kentucky mountains for over 200 years. They were recognized after the 1980s, by the people for their smooth ride, and dependability. 

They can be found in Ohio, California, Oregon, Texas and in Kentucky, of course.


Read More

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  2. Can Wild Horses Be Tamed?
  3. What’s a Gelding, Colt, Mare, Filly & Stallion Horse?
  4. 15 White Horse Breeds


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