What Breed is My Horse?
Sometimes a person buys a horse and they are not really sure of its breed. If this sounds like you, there are a few things you can do to help identify the breed of your horse.
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Talk to the Horse’s Previous Owner
The first step should be to talk to the previous owner of the horse, specifically ask if the horse has breed registration papers. Legally, registration papers are the only accepted proof of a horses breed. Without papers it is all guess work, but the seller might own the dam, or sire, and know the breed of either. They may have information they gathered through ownership and that may indicate the breed of the horse.
Examine the Horse for Brands
Some breeds have brands that are applied to the horse. These are very common in the warmbloods, such as Hannoverians, and Trakehners. These brands are not the same as brands used by ranchers to identify ownership, however some freeze brands use a symbol at the start of the brand to indicate breed. As well if you can find any brand, or tattoo, it may be traced to the breeder and this may solve the mystery of what breed the horse is.
photo source - the Trakehner Brand
Some horse breeds have unique gaits, if the horse you are trying to identify has gait that is different than the main four – walk, trot/jog, canter/lope, gallop, you might have a horse that is one of the gaited breeds. Pacing is common in a few breeds, but other gaits may be specific to a certain breed.
Next we must consider the height of the animal, most breeds hover around 15 – 16 hands, but some are shorter, some are taller. Warmbloods and draft horses being among the tallest, and ponies, and miniature horses, being among the smallest.
Some colors are not seen in certain breeds, while other colors are very common in certain breeds. Grey, for example is very common in Andalusians, and Arabians. Palomino is common in Quarter horses, but will not occur in Thoroughbreds. Most colors appear in more than one breed so this is not a definitive answer, and of course the horse may be partbred. When looking at color also consider some markings are more common in some breeds.
photo source - even as a youngster, no mistake can be made that this isn’t an Arabian.
Arabian horses have a very specific look to them and are often easy to identify (if well bred) they have pointy ears, large foreheads, dished faces, level croups, and a high set tail. In comparison a Quarter horse may have a thicker head, and a rounded rump with a low tail. The way the neck is set also gives some clues, as some breeds have much higher set necks than others. Of course physical characteristics are not proof of the breed, a poorly bred horse may look like a completely different breed.
If the breed of horse must be known a veterinarian in the area should be contacted and blood work can be done. While this may not be available everywhere, and is not cheap, it can help pinpoint the breed, or breeds of horse.
*Remember that it is illegal to refer to any unregistered animal as a Purebred. Even if you have guessed well at a horses breed, it cannot be sold as a purebred without registration papers to say so. Unregistered horses are called Grades.
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