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Black Horse Breeds: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated: February 8, 2024

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

There is something special and alluring about black horses. Perhaps it is their mysterious air or the fact that they are slightly rarer than other colors of horses. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that black horses have a certain appeal.

Join me as we explore the vast array of black horse breeds. Whether you are looking for a beautiful black horse to ride or a hard-working draft animal, there is a black breed that will suit your needs.

Picture of a black horse
Black Friesian Horse


The Friesian is an elegant horse that originates from The Netherlands (Holland). It gets its name because of where it was bred: Friesland – which literally means “frozen land”! They come in different colors like grey, chestnut, and red roan dun, but they are primarily black with white markings around their legs and head area.

American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter horse is a versatile breed that comes in many colors, including black. Quarter horses are used for work and pleasure riding. They make excellent cowhorse breeds because of their agility and speed.

Picture of a Shire horse, one of the few black horse breeds.
The Shire Horse with his flowing feathers.

The Shire horse

The Shire is another draft breed that is commonly black; they can also be seen in bay, brown, or gray. They are a large breed and are thought to be the tallest horse in the world.

These horses are bred for strength and stamina and can be used for various purposes, such as carriage driving or farm work. What is the most beautiful black horse breed?


The Percheron originated in France, and during medieval times these horses carried knights into battle. Later, they were used primarily for draft purposes, such as pulling heavy artillery and farm equipment. Modern Percherons are most frequently used for riding.

The breed is known for its strength, beauty, and versatility. I’ve seen one Percheron transition from crowd control duties to showjumping flawlessly. They come in different colors, including black.

Picture of a black race horse


The Thoroughbred is the most popular horse breed in the world, and it also comes in black. Thoroughbreds are bred for racing, and they make excellent racehorses. They are known for their speed and agility, as well as their intelligence and courage.

The American Saddlebred

The American Saddlebred is another popular black horse breed. Saddlebreds are bred for showjumping and dressage, and they are known for their elegance and grace. They have a long stride, which makes them ideal for competition.


The Andalusian is a beautiful Spanish horse breed that comes in black or gray. Andalusians are bred for dressage, and they are considered to be one of the most elegant horses in the world.

Picture of a black Arabian horse.
Black Arabian.


The Arabian is one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, and it’s also one of the most beautiful! The Arabians are known to be very intelligent and loyal. They come in many colors, but they’re usually black, chestnut, or gray, with white markings on their face, legs, and tail tips.

The Arabian horses were bred mainly as warhorses by nomads who traveled across deserts looking for water sources during long journeys, which is why they performed so well in endurance competitions.


The Morgan horse is a very versatile breed that was developed initially in the United States. This American classic has been used for everything from cavalry charges to pulling wagons.

Morgan horses are known for being good-natured and easy to handle, making them popular mounts for all types of riders. Morgans come in various colors, but black is one of the most common shades.


The Standardbred horse is a beautiful breed that is often used in harness racing. These horses come in many different colors, and black is one of the most common shades.


Mustangs are feral horses that come in many different coat colors. Mustangs in the Pryor Mountains are often black or almost black. Seal brown coats are frequently mistaken as black because they are so dark. These horses are descended from Spanish horses Conquistadors brought over to North America in the 16th century.

Picture of a black thoroughbred racehorse at Delta Downs.
Black Thoroughbred racehorse.

Horse Breeds That are Predominantly Black

There is something undeniably beautiful about black horses. Perhaps it is their sleek, ebony coats or the mystery they seem to embody. Whatever the reason, these horses are a sight to behold.

Many breeds produce black, but only a few have predominately black horses. Even those that look black often aren’t and are actually seal brown, dark bay, or dark chestnut. A true black horse is unusual.

Here are the few horse breeds that are solid black:


The first solid black horse breed we’ll discuss is the Friesian. This breed is believed to have originated in the Netherlands and is thought to be one of Europe’s oldest horse breeds.

The Friesian is known for its thick, black coat, long mane, and graceful carriage. These horses are often used in dressage and other competitive equestrian events.

Murgese horses

Murgese horses have their origin in Italy, but they have been bred throughout Europe for centuries. These horses are known for their thick manes and tails, powerful build, and intelligence. The Murgese is often used in dressage competitions and other equestrian events.


If you’re looking for an all-black horse, look no further than Ariegeois (or Merens). The official registry only accepts black horses. The Ariegeois is an ancient horse breed thought to descend from the Iberian horses.

It was developed by crossing local French ponies with Spanish horses brought back from wars during medieval times. These equines were traditionally used as pack animals but have since become popular among riders due to their sure-footedness, calm temperaments, strength, and endurance. 


Kladruber is a warmblood that originated from the Czech Republic over 400 years ago, making it one of the oldest breeds in the world. They are black or bay and stand between 14 and 16 hands high. Kladrubers are used for both light draft work and dressage.

Kladruber horses are considered some of the best-driving horses in the world and the only horses bred explicitly for pulling the carriages of Kings. They are an extremely rare horse breed.

Alt-Oldenburger/ Ostfriesen

This is one horse breed with two names. They are large, warm-blood horses bred to pull carriages. They are usually black or bay in color and stand between 14hh and 16hh high.

Alt-Oldenburger horses originate from Oldenburg, Germany, while Ostfriesen horses are from East Frisia, which is now a part of Germany. They eventually became one breed.

Picture of a black pony trotting in a field.
Black Pony trotting in a field.

Black Pony Breeds

There are many different types of pony breeds, but the black ones are some of the most beautiful and interesting. They come in all shapes and sizes, each with a unique personality.

Fell Pony

The fell pony is a small, hardy breed native to England’s Lakeland fells. It was initially bred for the mining industry and later used in agriculture. The breed is fast, agile, and strong – qualities that make it ideal for working on steep terrain and pony trekking with children or adults.

Fell ponies are generally black but can also be found in grey, brown, dun (yellowish-brown), or even roan (mottled). They stand between 13hh and 14hh high at the withers; that is, they measure between 132cm (52 inches) and 142cm (56 inches), measured from the ground to their shoulders. This makes them slightly larger than other pony breeds.

Dales Pony

The next pony breed on our list is the Dales Pony. This breed originated in the Yorkshire Dales of England and was used for pulling carts, plowing fields, and carrying goods to market. The ponies were also popular with gypsies, who would use them as mounts or pack animals. Today, the Dales Pony is still used for light agricultural work but has become increasingly popular as a riding pony – particularly with children.

Dales Ponies are usually black but can also be found in bay, chestnut, roan, and dun. They stand between 12hh and 13hh high at the withers.

picture of a shire work horse.
Black Shire horse with white feathering.

Big Black Horse Breeds (Draft)

Do you know what the biggest black horse breeds are? If not, don’t worry! We’re here to help. We will discuss some of the world’s biggest black draft horse breeds. These horses are known for their size and power and are often used for pulling heavy loads.

So if you’re looking for a big, strong black horse that can do some serious work, one of these draft breeds might be a perfect choice.

The Shire horse

The Shire horse is a British breed of draught horse. It is the heaviest and tallest of all horse breeds and also one of the strongest. Shires are typically black, bay, or brown and have feathered legs.

They are gentle giants known for their docile nature and easygoing dispositions. However, they are also powerful workhorses, capable of pulling heavy loads over long distances. Shires are popular trail and therapeutic riding horses and are frequently exhibited in draft horse shows.


Percherons are another draft breed that is popular for their black coloring. These horses are known for their intelligence and gentle temperament. They are often used for pulling wagons, trail riding, or show horses.

Murgese horse

The Murgese is a versatile black draft horse breed. They are not as big as the others on this list, but they are still large. Murgese horses have a long history of being used for farm work and are even used in endurance riding competitions.

Belgian Horse

Belgians are typically bay or chestnut, but some are black, too (or even gray). These horses were originally bred as draft animals, but they became popular after World War I when soldiers brought them home from Europe and used them for agriculture in America.

The Belgian horse is a large, muscular breed descended from the Flemish warhorses, which were black.


The Clydesdale is another popular draft breed and is often considered one of the most beautiful horse breeds in the world. These tall and powerful horses are often used for agricultural work or pulling wagons in parades.

YouTube video
YouTube video about various black horse breeds around the world.


Black horses, with their alluring and mysterious aura, hold a special place in the equine world. From the elegant Friesian of the Netherlands to the powerful Shire of England and the versatile American Quarter Horse, black horses come in a variety of breeds, each with unique characteristics and histories.

Despite the myths and the rarity associated with true black coats, these horses are celebrated for their beauty, strength, and versatility in both competitive and work environments.

Call to Action

For those enchanted by the beauty and grace of black horses, we encourage you to learn more about these magnificent animals. Whether you’re an aspiring owner, a seasoned equestrian, or simply an admirer, there’s always more to discover about the diverse breeds of black horses.

Consider visiting local stables, attending horse shows, or joining equestrian communities to experience the majesty of black horses firsthand. And for those looking to contribute to the preservation and appreciation of these breeds, consider supporting organizations and breeders who are dedicated to their care and promotion.

Additional Resources

Breed Registries

  • Friesian Horse Association of North America (FHANA): The official registry for Friesian horses in North America, offering detailed information on breed standards, history, and care. Visit FHANA
  • The Shire Horse Society: The oldest horse breed society in the world and the registry for Shire Horses in the United Kingdom, dedicated to the promotion and preservation of the Shire horse. Visit The Shire Horse Society
  • American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA): The world’s largest equine breed registry and membership organization, representing the American Quarter Horse. Visit AQHA
  • The Percheron Horse Association of America: A registry that focuses on the promotion and documentation of the Percheron horse breed in the United States. Visit The Percheron Horse Association of America
  • The American Morgan Horse Association (AMHA): The official breed registry for Morgan horses in the United States, offering resources on breed history, care, and competitive events. Visit AMHA
  • The Arabian Horse Association (AHA): The single national organization dedicated to the Arabian horse breed in the United States, providing information on breed registration, competitions, and programs. Visit AHA
  • International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA): The registry for Andalusian and Lusitano horses in the U.S., promoting the breeds and providing information on shows, programs, and breed standards. Visit IALHA