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7 Most Common Horse Breeds in the USA. Can You Guess Them?

Last updated: August 5, 2022

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

The most common horse breeds in our area are Thoroughbreds and quarter horses. However, we recently watched Arabian horses in a cutting competition. Seeing these Arabians made me wonder about other horse breeds, and which are the most common in the United States.

The most common horse breeds in the United States are the American quarter horse, Thoroughbred, Arabian, Morgan, American Paint Horse, Tennessee Walker Horse, and Mustangs. Horses are popular across the U.S. and encompass many different breeds.

There are many good horse breeds globally, but the best are the most common ones in the United States. From eventing to trail riding, there are many great breeds to choose from, and indeed you can find one to fit your needs.

picture of a horse running,

This article is part of my series focused on horse breeds-I started by writing an introductory piece: Horse Breeds: The Ultimate Guide. The introduction to the series is a comprehensive overview of different breeds and types of horses.

If you’re interested in checking out some horse-related gifts, you can find them by clicking here.

The most common horse breeds in the United States.

When looking for a new horse, especially if it is a first-time purchase, it’s essential to consider the breed. Some breeds are better at one thing, and others are better at doing something entirely different. Some are great for new riders, and some aren’t.

Starting with the most common breeds is a good place. This allows you to choose a horse that fits the riding style you wish, as well as a horse that is right for your experience. Keep in mind that descriptions tend to be general; each horse has its own personality.

Picture of a quarter horse.

American Quarter Horse

Just about every list starts with the quarter horse as the number one pick. There are a lot of reasons for this. They can be competitive in just about any equine sport, which comes in handy and they aren’t tall horses which makes them for riders of all sizes.

The two most endearing qualities of the quarter horse are its friendly disposition and its intelligence. Quarter horses are said to be very willing to please the rider and/or trainer.

Coupled with the smarts to learn, they have a temperament that makes them one of the easier breeds to work with. Click on this link to read a more in-depth article on the American Quarter Horse,

picture of an Arabian horse one of the most common horse breeds,


While the order after quarter horses tends to differ, Arabians are in the second or third spot on most common horse breeds. Like the quarter horse, Arabians are smaller horses. They are one of the oldest horse breeds and have a lot of speed.

There is a lot of contradiction about whether or not Arabians are suitable for beginning riders. Some contend that the hot-blooded nature of the animals makes them an unwise choice. They can be very spirited horses and may not cooperate.

On the other hand, they are the only stallions that the U.S. Equestrian Federation will allow children to show. That speaks to their ability to handle themselves well. They are also used for those with disabilities for equine therapy.

The problem with Arabians has nothing to do with their temperament per se. They are highly intelligent, but they are also very sensitive. They don’t like being mistreated, and if they feel mistreated, they will show it.

That doesn’t mean that they are being mistreated; they’re very like humans in this. I wrote an in-depth article history of the Arabian horse breed, which you may find interesting.

Picture of a thoroughbred stallion.


Like the Arabian, thoroughbreds are hot-blooded. In fact, the breed descends from three Arabian stallions bred to mares in England. The entire first generation was thirty-one horses, twenty-eight mares, and three stallions.

Unlike Arabians, they require experienced riders who can handle their nature. They are good at several equine sports… particularly those that need speed. People who watch horse racing will recognize that most of the horses tend to be thoroughbreds.

Thoroughbreds are versatile which is why they are one of the most common horse breeds in the United States. To read about specific hoof problems associated with Thoroughbred horses click on the link.

picture of a morgan horse and her foal, ,

Morgan horse

The Morgan horse is one of the first breeds that were developed in what is now the United States. A schoolteacher owned the breed’s foundation sire, and the horse became known for his all-around athletic abilities. A lot of people brought their mares to Figure, the first Morgan stallion.

What Figure’s bloodlines were no one knows? There is a lot of speculation, but Arabian, Thoroughbred, and Friesian are listed as the most likely possibilities. That said, they don’t seem to have the temperament of hot-blooded horses.

In fact, Morgans are great all-around horses. Children can ride them as well as adults. They do tend to be shorter, at fourteen to fifteen hands. However, that can be a boon for the smaller ones as they are closer to the ground.

Morgans are horses of all works. They can be shown, raced, and be top-notch beginning horses. They’re smart and adaptable, which is especially useful when someone new to horseback riding is in the saddle. They also are delighted to please the rider and/or trainer.

These desirable traits make them one of the most common horse breeds in the United States. To learn more about the Morgan breeds temperament and coat colors check out my article on the breed.

Picture of an American Paint horse.

American Paint Horse

Like the Morgan, the American Paint horse is from the United States. They arrived via Cortez during the Spanish exploration. The paint is known for its distinctive markings, including a great deal of white with other colors.

Paints are another good breed for beginners, especially if you plan on taking care of the horse on your property. They are easy to manage when they are in the stable or pasture, and they are gentle. They are also brilliant.

Our experience with a paint is a good example. She was a good mare and handled the lack of riding knowledge well. However, she was also able to get into mischief.

Our daughter learned never to leave a cup of Starbucks coffee anywhere within possible reach of the mare. The American Paint Horse is good-looking and a great companion, which is why they are one of the most common horse breeds.

picture of a Tennessee walking horse running,

Tennessee Walker

This breed is a mix between Pacer horses and mustangs. They are warm-blooded, which means they may not be suitable for a first horse unless the rider is already experienced. They are gaited horses, which makes for a smoother ride.

Tennessee Walkers like to be active. They love competitions and staying active. They don’t care to have their gaits messed with; it will most likely result in a grumpy horse. However, some competitions require different rates, and the horses can do them.

While they make great family horses, they may get bored and irritable if they aren’t exercised regularly. This is a horse for active riders, not for the occasional hack around the trails. A bored horse with the Tennessee Walker’s intelligence can get into all kinds of trouble.

If you’re thinking about buying a Tennessee Walker Horse, you may want to read our article, “Should You Buy A Tennessee Walking Horse? Let’s Find Out!

Picture of white horses in a field.


No breed list is really complete without mentioning the mustang. They still roam the wild and have to be rounded up from time to time in order to make sure they don’t become too numerous. These horses are sold at auction by the Bureau of Land Management.

How easy the horse is for a new owner depends on a couple of things. If you buy the mustang straight from the BLM, you will need an experienced trainer to work with it. They are quite capable of fending for themselves, and they can be stubborn.

They are also smart, short, and sturdy. Its ancestors were Andalusian, Barb, and Arabian, brought over by Cortez and the Spanish government. Many were brought over and turned loose in order to prevent them from being stolen by Native Americans.

Below is a YouTube video of the most common horse breeds.


What are the 3 types of horses?

The three primary types of horses you should know are draft, warmbloods, and hot-blooded. However, some horses fall outside these categories. To learn more about the types of horses, check out this article: 3 Types of Horses You Should Know, Plus 5 Different Kinds

How many horse breeds are there worldwide?

The best estimate is that there are close to 700 breeds of horses in the world. However, there is not a precise number of horse breeds worldwide.