What Are the Prettiest Horse Breeds?
Many would argue that horses are one of the most beautiful animals on the planet. They are graceful and muscular, with flowing manes and tails and large, expressive eyes. That being said, there are certain breeds that people often associate with being the most majestic and elegant.
- Gypsy Vanner
- Black Forest Horse
- Icelandic Horse
- American Paint Horse
- Norwegian Fjord
- Rocky Mountain Horse
- Orlov Trotter
Beauty is subjective, and if you are a horse owner, you will likely consider the most beautiful horse in the world to be your own. Want to get a more in-depth look at each of the breeds mentioned above? Keep reading!
#1 Prettiest Horse: Friesian
The Friesian is widely recognized as the most beautiful breed of horse in the world. With a muscular build, the Friesian is almost always all-black in color, with a long and wavy mane and tail and feathering at the feet. Friesians originated from the Netherlands and were once used as war horses. Cavalry mounts were required to have the athleticism and endurance of a hot-blooded horse, combined with the strength and heavy build of a draft horse. Today, Friesians are becoming more popular in dressage competitions.
To learn more about Friesian horses, visit my article What Friesian Horses Are Used For: Ultimate Guide.
#2 Prettiest Horse: Akhal-Teke
One of the oldest breeds of horse in the world, the Akhal-Teke is the second on our list of most beautiful horses. This horse is not as widely known, with only around 6,000 left in the world. Akhal-Teke’s are known as the “golden horses” because of their unique coats. While they come in a variety of colorings, the palomino and buckskin colorings hold a beautiful metallic sheen, giving them a shine unseen in other horse breeds. Akhal-Teke’s have a light build with a thin mane and tail. They are known for their endurance and ability to thrive in harsh desert climates.
#3 Prettiest Horse: Gypsy Vanner
The Gypsy Vanner is often referred to as the “people-sized draft horse”. These horses have the heavy build of a full-sized draft but at a smaller average height of 14-15 hh. They are commonly piebald and are characterized by their long, thick manes and tails and heavy feathering of the feet. Gypsy Vanners are heavy and athletic, built for a wide variety of work, and have a pleasant temperament.
#4 Prettiest Horse: Percheron
The first full-sized draft horse on our list is the Percheron. The Percheron is a large workhorse, known for its heavily muscled frame and standing on average 16.2 – 17.3 hh. Percherons are often black or gray in coloring and have personalities that are both gentle and willing. Percherons can make ideal riding partners but are most often used today for farm work and cart pulling.
Want to learn more about Percherons? Visit my article What is a Percheron Horse? Pictures & Fun Facts.
#5 Prettiest Horse: Andalusian
One of the Iberian breeds, Andalusians are known for encompassing both power and grace. They are large horses, most commonly found in gray or bay coloring, and have long manes and tails. They have expressive and elegant movements and are becoming more common in the higher levels of dressage and jumping competitions. Andalusians can be spirited but are generally willing to please and happy to learn.
#6 Prettiest Horse: Knabstrupper
A less common breed, the Knabstrupper has Danish origins and is often referred to as the “dalmation of horses”. The reference is a result of the leopard-complex gene that they carry, giving them a strikingly spotted coat. Though a less-known breed, the Knabstrupper is still bred in several European countries. These horses are versatile; however, I often see them most competing in dressage.
#7 Prettiest Horse: Appaloosa
The Appaloosa is an American-bred horse also carrying the leopard-complex gene and has, in fact, been used in Knabstrupper breeding lines to bring new blood to the more rare breed. Appaloosas are known for the same striking “dalmation” spots, have full manes and tails, and are well-suited for a variety of riding disciplines. It’s said that Appaloosas were originally bred by the Nez Perce Native American tribe living in the American West.
#8 Prettiest Horse: Arabian
The Arabian is arguably one of the most easily-recognized horse breeds in the world, with its concave nose profile and its high-set tail. Arabians are striking and elegant in appearance, but they are not bred for their looks alone – they are well-known for their athleticism, endurance, and agility, making them successful in many equestrian sports. Interestingly, Arabian horses have one fewer lumbar vertebrae and one fewer set of ribs than other horses.
#9 Prettiest Horse: Haflinger
Haflingers are well-muscled horses suited for both draft work and riding. They are relatively short horses – with the average Haflinger standing between 13.3 and 15 hh. The most notable physical characteristic of the Haflinger is its coloring – they are chestnut in color with long, thick manes and tails that are always in a flaxen, or white, color. This results in a beautiful color contrast that is not commonly seen in other breeds. Haflingers are versatile horses, often known for being great children’s mounts.
#10 Prettiest Horse: Black Forest Horse
Originating from the Black Forest of Southern Germany, the Black Forest Horse is considered an endangered breed. The Black Forest Horse is a light draft horse and, like the Haflinger, is always chestnut in coloring with a flaxen mane and tail. The difference in looks between a Haflinger and a Black Forest horse is that the Black Forest horses often have a darker chestnut coat, often looking dark brown or black to an untrained eye. The breed has a thick, beautiful mane with “clean” (un-feathered) feet.
#11 Prettiest Horse: Icelandic Horse
Though called horses, Icelandic Horses are usually pony-sized, averaging 13-14 hh. They are distinct for their full Winter coats and full, textured manes. Icelandic Horses are known for their easy-going temperaments and their tendency not to panic or spook. Though smaller in stature, they are well-muscled and strong. These horses are designed for the wild landscapes of Iceland; they have good strong feet for scaling rocky ground and can grow thick winter coats to brave sub-freezing temperatures. Another interesting fact about Icelandic Horses is that they can carry a higher percentage of their body weight than your average horse can!
#12 Prettiest Horse: Marwari
The Marwari, originating from India, is another smaller breed (measuring 13.3-14.3 hh on average). Marwaris come in a variety of colorings, with coats that often carry the same metallic sheen that Akhal-Tekes are known for. Most notable about the Marwari’s appearance is the inward-facing ears – they bend in at the tips so that they are touching. They are often used in many traditions and ceremonies found in the Indian culture. Today, these horses are a rare find throughout other parts of the world.
#13 Prettiest Horse: American Paint Horse
One of the most common riding horses in the US, the American Paint Horse is most often used in Western disciplines and has the conformation similar to that of an American Quarter Horse. What makes the Paint stand out is its unique coat – American Paint Horses almost always have pinto patterns, with a wide range of markings and spots allowed in the registry. American Paints are common riding horses found throughout America.
#14 Prettiest Horse: Norwegian Fjord
The Norwegian Fjord is closer to a pony in height but well-muscled and strong like a draft. It is always dun in color, with a distinct two-toned mane. The mane is usually clipped into a distinct 2-4” cut and shows off the horse’s famous dorsal stripe. Coming from the mountains of Norway, these horses are made to thrive in harsh climates. That being said, they are popular throughout the world as reliable riding horses for various riding levels.
#15 Prettiest Horse: Clydesdale
Clydesdales are one of the most recognized draft breeds, made famous as the “Budweiser Clydesdales” as well as their presence in various parades and Disney theme parks. Clydesdales are large draft horses, averaging between 16 and 18 hands high, with heavy feet feathering. The biggest horse I’ve personally ever seen was a 19 hh Clydesdale; however, he also turned out to be one of the friendliest horses I’ve met!
#16 Prettiest Horse: Shire
If you don’t know the difference, it can be difficult to tell a Clydesdale and a Shire apart. Shires are one of the strongest of the draft breeds. They are a beautiful and heavily-muscled breed with a long and silky mane and tail and light feathering at the feet. The tallest horse in history was the Shire by the name of Sampson, who measured over 21 hands high and weighed 3,360 pounds. When it comes to spotting the difference between a Clydesdale and a Shire, I would say that Shires have a more compact body while Clydesdales tend to have long necks and backs.
#17 Prettiest Horse: Rocky Mountain Horse
The Rocky Mountain Horse originated from Kentucky and is a generally well-mannered and likable riding horse. Most noticeable in its appearance is its common dark brown (known as “chocolate”) coloring with its flaxen mane and tail. These horses are gaited, meaning that they move a little differently than your average horse. Gaited horses tend to keep one foot on the ground at all times when moving. This can make them very comfortable to ride. Rocky Mountain Horses are sure-footed horses great for endurance or trail riding.
#18 Prettiest Horse: Lipizzan
Lipizzans are an elegant and graceful breed, best known for their gray coloring. These horses are most popular as the mounts of the Spanish Riding School. I’m sure you’ve seen videos of these horses performing awe-inspiring classical dressage moves. You can learn more about these cool horses in the movie Miracle of the White Stallions. This movie covers the true story of the American forces during World War II rescuing these horses from the Spanish Riding School. If you watch that movie, you’ll get to see some of their cool moves!
#19 Prettiest Horse: Thoroughbred
Thoroughbreds are best known for racing, and their speed can be partly attributed to their well-muscled and refined build. Thoroughbreds have large heads and expressive eyes, lean and strong bodies, and long legs. They are usually between 15.2 and 17 hands high, and most commonly found in bay coloring. Throughout the world, thoroughbreds continue to be a popular breed, both as racehorses and as riding horses.
#20 Prettiest Horse: Orlov Trotter
Originating from Russia and used mainly for riding and harness-racing, the Orlov Trotter is a tall, athletic horse with a high-set arched neck and expressive movements. Physically mature Orlov Trotters are most commonly found in gray, and like the Lipizzano, are born with a darker coat. These horses almost went extinct during the 20th century, but due to conservation breeding throughout Russia, the breed has re-emerged throughout Russia.
Horses Known For Their Beauty
In general, horses are known as one of the most beautiful horses on the planet. They are both strong and powerful and also graceful and dignified. They are large and expressive and have long and beautiful manes and tails. While it can be said that all horses are beautiful, there are some breeds (like the ones listed above) with accentuated traits that add to their beauty.
Want to learn about unique horse breeds? Visit my article Fantastic Horse Breeds and Where to Find Them.