The Horse Rider's Journal

The A-list


A is for attractive, appealing, amazing, awesome, astonishing and absolutely astounding… A series on spectacular horse breeds from all over the world, beginning with the letter A.

Text Maria Graae / The Horse Riders Journal No. 5

ORIGIN: Alentejo province, Portugal, Europe
KNOWN FOR: Great knee flexion and its elegance
SUITABLE FOR: Pulling carriages and for high-school dressage.
SIZE: 153-170 cm
The Alter Real is a strain of the Portuguese Lusitano breed. The word “real” is Portuguese for royal and the Alter Real’s history dates back to 1747 at the national stud in Alter do Chao in Portugal. The breed was established by the Braganza family and founded with 300 Andalusian mares imported from Spain to provide the royal family a high-level dressage and carriage horse. In 1804 the breed was nearly destroyed due to war, when a local horse expert, Ruy d’Andrade, single handedly saved the breed.


ORIGIN: The Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East
KNOWN FOR: Being the ”Purest” of all breeds
SUITABLE FOR: Excellence in endurance, racing and showing
SIZE: 145-155 cm
With their trademark dished faces and tails held high, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognisable horse breeds in the world. There is archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years; the hardy horses where valued and well bred by Bedouin desert tribes. Throughout history Arabian horses, carried around the world by both trade and war, have been used to improve other breeds.



ORIGIN: Australia
KNOWN FOR: Versatility and soundness
SUITABLE FOR: Work and sport
SIZE: 142-162 cm
Horses are not native to Australia: The ancestors of the Australian Stock Horse arrived in what was then a British colony on the first fleet to hit Botany Bay in January 1788. Despite their mixed origins they developed into a strong and handsome type. The explorers, stockmen and their reliable horses became part of Australian folklore: The movieThe Man from Snowy River describe the character of these pioneers and their horses. Today the Australian Stock Horse Society has more then 180,000 registered horses in their Stud Book.



ORIGIN: Turkmenistan, Central Asia
KNOWN FOR: Its coat’s distinctive metallic sheen and blue eyes
SUITABLE FOR: Dressage, jumping, eventing and endurance
SIZE: 144-165 cm
The Akhal-Teke is a national emblem in its homeland of Turkmenistan, and in its honour the country celebrates an annual national horse day which all government officials and school students are expected to attend. Turkmenistan is home to more than half of the world’s 3,000 Akhal-Teke horses, all descendants of the ancient Turkmen horse that originated from Asia and was used by nomadic tribes as a war horse. The stunning metallic glow of the Akhal-Teke’s coat is caused by the structure of its hair; the transparent part acts like a fibre-optic cable and often creates a golden sheen.



KNOWN FOR: A curly xoat
SUITABLE FOR: Most types of sport
SIZE: 135-162 cm
The origin of the American Curly is uncertain, but in 1898 Peter Damele and his father discovered three horses with tight, curly ringlets covering their entire bodies in the remote high terrain of central Nevada. In the winter this breed’s coat displays long curls and the mane and tail hair are also curly. The breed is reported to be hypoallergenic: If allergic to horses you can tolerate Curly’s with reduced allergic reactions, or even a complete absence of them.


ORIGIN: Ethiopia, Africa
KNOWN FOR: A ”moustache” around the mouth
SUITABLE FOR: Riding and pack horse
SIZE: 130-152 cm
The famed Abyssinian horse, recorded since Medieval times, is well adjusted to life and work at the high plateaus of Ethiopia. It’s a short-haired breed with a coat full of rosettes and a great deal of variaty in colour, size and stature. However, all Abyssinians are extremely hardy, ridden in altitudes of almost 4,000 metres and able to survive on very little. In Kenya settlers such as Karen Blixen used Abyssinian horses, well acclimatised to the extremes of the African climate.



ORIGIN: The Palouse region, USA
KNOWN FOR: Colourful Coat Patterns And Being The State Horse Of Idaho
Family Horses
SIZE: 142-163 Cm
The Spanish introduced horses to North America as they explored the American continents. As the horses and their use spread, most of the Native American populations were on horseback by 1710. The Nez Perce tribe became especially sophisticated horsemen and were known for their spotted mounts. When white settlers came to the Northwest Palouse region, they called the spotted horses ”a Palouse horse”, and over time the name was shortened to ”Appaloosa.”

Photo Courtesy: Holidays on Horseback, Julie Krieder, Joan Olson, Silverthorn Stock Horse, Ride World Wide, Kerri-Jo Stewart, Lykke Bianca & In the Saddle.