What Horse Breeds Have Long Manes and Tails?
I’m always impressed when I see a horse with an exceptionally long and thick mane and tail, not just for the natural beauty it gives the animal, but for the work it takes to maintain! Some horse breeds have naturally full manes and tails to accommodate the climate they originated from, while others have had these traits bred into them intentionally.
What horse breeds have the longest manes and tails? With the right care, most horse breeds are able to grow longer manes and tails; however, the following ten breeds are known to have especially full and lustrous manes and tails.
- Gypsy Vanner
- Miniature Horse
- Black Forest Horse
- Icelandic Horse
- Shetland Pony
- American Saddlebred
Some breeds, like the Appaloosa and Akhal-Teke, don’t have much hair at all! I’ve seen some Appaloosas with a small whiff of hair for a mane! If you dream of galloping around on a fantasy-like horse with hair blowing in the wind, keep reading to learn more about these breeds!
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #1: The Friesian
The Friesian is an ancient breed, deriving from war horses used in the Netherlands as far back as the 4th century. The ancient ancestors of the Freisan were strong and agile enough to carry knights into battle, full armor and all. Though they are no longer needed in this capacity, Friesians have gained popularity in the modern era, particularly in the discipline of dressage and entertainment.
Freisians are known for their all-black color and their gorgeous manes and tails which are long, full, and often braided and let out into beautiful waves. The Friesian is a large horse, standing 15-17 hh, and is considered a light draft breed. They are docile horses that are willing to work and easy to train. The Friesian adorns calendars, posters, book covers, and every sort of horsey-decor.
Friesians are one of the most desirable horse breeds; however, their prices tend to make them out of reach for most people. To learn more about the average purchase price Friesians go for, visit my article How Much Does a Friesian Horse Cost? 2023 Pricing Guide.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #2: The Gypsy Vanner
Gypsy Vanners were developed in Great Britain to pull the caravans of the Romani families. They weren’t discovered by the outside world until 1995 when a vacationing couple fell in love with a horse they saw in an English pasture. Only one year later the first Gypsy Vanner stepped foot on North American soil, where they quickly stole the hearts of the equestrian world.
The Gypsy Vanner is another beautiful horse known for its thick mane, long and full tail, and abundant feathering on the feet. They are most often found in pinto patterns and are considered small draft horses that stand between 13 and 16 hh. Because the Gypsy Vanner was bred to live in close proximity with the Romani families, they are a docile and gentle breed, and not easily spooked.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #3: The American Miniature Horse
The American Miniature Horse is a breed that shares the proportions of a standard-sized horse but in a diminutive stature. On average, they stand around 34 inches at the withers and come in almost all coat colors and patterns. They are known for their abundant manes and tails in proportion to the rest of their bodies, and that characteristic, combined with their small size, makes them an especially popular attraction at children’s petting zoos and birthday parties.
My own Miniature Horse, Yoshi, has a tail that drags on the ground. I don’t even take much care of it except brushing it every now and then! If you want a horse but would prefer one that requires less money and resources, consider a Miniature Horse!
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #4: The Haflinger
The Haflinger is an Austrian horse breed developed during the late 19th century. They are a hardy breed, having originated in harsh mountainous terrain. Haflingers are not especially large horses; they stand between 13 and 15 hh but are sturdy and strong for their size. They are always chestnut in color with flaxen (white, or blonde) manes and tails.
The color contrast between their base coat and their “hair” is striking enough, but to add to their beautiful appearance, their manes and tails are also very thick and full. Once you know what a Haflinger looks like, you’ll be able to recognize them anywhere. In essence, they look like a miniature version of a Belgian Draft Horse.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #5: The Andalusian
The Andalusian, also called the Pure Spanish Horse (or PRE, for pura raza espanola) is an old breed developed in the Iberian peninsula. The breed was originally used as a war horse and is strongly built yet elegant and flashy. Andalusians have been used throughout history for both riding and driving and were among the first breeds used for classical dressage, a discipline they continue to excel in.
Andalusians are known for their long, thick manes and tails, and they are proudly worn long for shows. Many non-horse people may mistake an Andalusian for a white Friesian horse. These horses typically stand between 15 and 16 hh and, while they used to come in a variety of colors and patterns, approximately 80% of Andalusians are gray, 15% are bay, and the remaining 5% are black, dun, palomino, or chestnut.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #6: The Shire
The Shire is a large British breed of draft horse used throughout history to work in agriculture and forestry, tow barges, and pull brewer’s drays and carts. As was true for most draft breeds, the Shire’s population declined significantly after farm machines became mainstream. In the 1960s, the Shire, which had at one time boasted a population of more than a million worldwide, found itself down to only a few thousand.
Shires typically stand between 17 and 18 hh and have beautiful and thick manes, tails, and feet feathering.<span style=”font-weight: 400;”> They are typically found in black, bay, chestnut, gray, and roan, though these colors will vary depending on registration requirements that differ between the UK and the US.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #7: The Black Forest Horse
While I find all of the horses on this list absolutely beautiful, the one that I am particularly captivated by is the Black Forest Horse. Unfortunately (for both the breed and for me!) these horses are quite endangered, even in their home country of Germany.
The Black Forest Horse is a small draft horse, with a very thick mane and tail that helps to protect the horse from the bitterly cold winters. What makes this breed especially striking is their color contrast; Black Forest Horses are found only in chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. How this is most commonly expressed is in a very dark chestnut that looks almost black at times (called “dark fox”, or Dunkelfuchs in German) with a silver mane and tail. I could spend an hour looking at pictures of these gorgeous horses!
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #8: The Icelandic Horse
The Icelandic Horse is a small, hardy horse that is the pride and joy of Iceland natives. They are one of the purest horse breeds in the world: Icelandic law bans the importation of horses from other countries and if one of their own Icelandic horses is exported elsewhere, it is not welcomed back.
Icelandic horses stand between 13 and 14 hh, yet are sturdy enough to be ridden by not just children, but also many adults. As Iceland’s name would imply, the country gets very cold in the winter, and the Icelandic Horse has adapted to have a very thick mane, tail, and winter coat. These horses come in almost all coat colors. In fact, there are over one hundred names in the Icelandic language for the many different coat colors and patterns of the breed.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #9: The Shetland Pony
The Shetland Pony is originally from Scotland and today is one of the most popular breeds of ponies in the world. Shetland Ponies reach a height of up to 42” at the withers and are mainly kept as children’s mounts, for pleasure driving, and as companion and therapy horses.
Like most pony breeds, especially those developed in the colder Northern climates, Shetland Ponies have exceptionally thick, long manes and tails. They come in almost all solid colors and can sometimes be found with pinto patterns.
Horse With Long Mane & Tail #10: The American Saddlebred
Though there are many breeds that have originated in the United States, both before and after the Saddlebred, this horse is nicknamed the “Horse America Made.” Though Saddlebreds were once used by the military, particularly in the Civil War, they were developed as riding horses and are still used primarily for that purpose.
Saddlebreds are known for their very long manes and tails, and are commonly shown in “full tail” and “full mane.” They are beautiful, proud-looking horses, and excel in plenty of different disciplines.
Horses With Long Hair
There is something especially captivating about a horse with a long, full mane and tail. Though not the most popular breeds in the world, the breeds listed above are typically disproportionately represented in calendars, book covers, and posters that cover the walls of youth bedrooms around the world.
If you are interested in keeping a horse with a luxurious mane and tail, you should keep in mind that this exceptional hair requires exceptional care. If you don’t have the hours necessary to keep a Gypsy Vanner’s or an Andalusian’s hair looking its finest, you may want to stick with a breed that sports a more sparse head (and rear). If you do have the time and the desire, however, you will be rewarded with a horse waving his mane like Fabio out in your pasture.
Just about any draft horse breed has thick manes and tails. To see a complete list of draft horse breeds, visit my article Types of Draft Horse Breeds (With Pictures.)