Mysterious Beauties—Unveiling the World of Black Horse Breeds
If you’re a horse lover then a breed of any colour will send you into horsey heaven mode. But we all have our favourites and black horse breeds are some of the most sought after. Why? Because they’re just so showstopping.
In this article you’ll discover 13 of the most beautiful black horse breeds from across the globe and what makes them so special.
Let’s get trotting.
What Is Considered a Black Horse?
There are a few factors that determine black horse breeds:
Genetics: Horse coat colours are determined by various genes. One of the primary factors is the Extension (E) gene. For a horse to be black they need at least one copy of this gene.
Pigmentation: Eumelanin (a type of melanin) is the primary pigment needed for a black coat that absorbs light. Black horses have more melanin throughout their hair, which gives them a black appearance.
Agouti gene: The Agouti gene determines the distribution of black pigment on a horse’s body. Black horses generally have a particular variant of the Agouti gene called the “a” allele, this ensures the horse has a black coat and points (lower legs, tail, mane).
Genetic modifiers: There are a variety of genetic modifiers that can influence how much of the horse coat is black, as well as the intensity of the colour too. Some horses may be light black, while others are velvet black from top to tail.
While a horse may appear black, the only way to know for sure if a horse is “true black” is to go through genetic testing.
In our book, black horses are gorgeous, no matter the shade or genetics. So, let’s look at some of the most beautiful black horse breeds.
13 Most Beautiful Black Horse Breeds
One of the most defining characteristics of a Friesian horse is a jet-black coat. They can come in other colours like dark bay or chestnut, but most are black from top to tail. Some may have white markings too.
The Friesian is a draught horse that has been used for farmwork before the Middle Ages. But that comes as no surprise considering the breed’s muscular build and height (15.2 hands). If that wasn’t intimidating enough, the long manes and tails could make even the top hair models green with envy.
The gorgeous good looks of the Friesian horse make this breed popular for movies and TV shows, with the breed making an appearance in Game of Thrones. So, for all the John Snow fans, eat your heart out!
Originally from the Apulia region in Italy, the Murgese is a cross between Arabians or Barbs with native horses of the area.
Murgese horses stand between 14-16.2 hands and have strong chests and legs and sturdy necks. The most unique feature of the Murgese is the extremely hard hooves, making this black horse breed perfect for cross-country riding.
Traditionally used as working horses, you are more likely to find Murgese horses along cross-country trails. They won’t be hard to spot considering black is the most common coat colour. Mix that with the sturdy body and these black horses stick out like a sore thumb, in a good way.
The Mérens is a French mountain horse that originated in the Ariégeois and Pyrenees mountain ranges in the South of France. This beautiful black horse has ancient ancestors with the black coat making an appearance since the beginning.
There is some debate surrounding what breeds the Mérens originated from. What we do know is that this breed is incredibly adaptable and resilient, two things that made its initial time in the mountains possible. Imagine, scarce food availability, freezing winters, and no shelter, all while transporting humans across massive mountain ranges for months at a time.
The Mérens can be categorised into two types, taller and shorter mountain horses, ranging in height between 14-15 hands. But both feature a distinct black coat.
Mérens are often found helping police forces because of their docile, calm, and trainable personalities. Plus, with a black coat, those police colours are unmistakable! The breed is also popular in rehabilitation centres and riding schools, but that’s no surprise with such a gentle soul.
Interestingly, the Mérens horse breed nearly went extinct in the late 20th century, with only 40 registered in the 1970s. Thankfully, breeding programs and horse lovers united to bring the breed back from extinction. While still rare, we can enjoy the beauty of the Mérens horse breed for years to come.
4. Fell Pony
The Fell Pony originated in the North West of England and is commonly found in Cumbria, where registered herds thrive on the moors. Traditionally employed as pack horses, they carried goods, food, and wool, demonstrating their resilience and strength. While the Fell Pony is now primarily regarded as a riding pony, it also excels as a show horse.
Despite being small, not exceeding 14 hands, they possess remarkable elegance. The Fell Pony displays a range of captivating colours (grey, bay, brown), but black enhances their beauty beyond comparison.
If you’re looking for a little rider’s companion, you can’t go wrong with the black Fell Pony.
5. Dales Pony
Originating from the slopes of the Pennine range, stretching from the Cheviot Hills of Scotland to the High Peak in Derbyshire, we have the Dales Pony. Originally bred for the demanding tasks of carrying heavy loads across treacherous mountain ranges and toiling in mines.
In the equine world, the Dales Pony has earned a well-deserved reputation as “The Great All-Rounder.” Their intelligence shines through, making them quick learners and adaptable companions. Whether you’re seeking a show partner or a trusted riding companion, the Dales Pony is a true delight.
One of the remarkable traits of this breed is its exceptional strength and unwavering stability. The Dales Pony is kind and gentle, creating an unbreakable bond between the rider and the pony. They have a heart as big as their strong bodies, exuding warmth and a genuine desire to please their human counterparts.
If you want a black Dales pony you’re in luck, black is by far the most common colour for this breed. There are other options like roan and grey, but none of them makes the silky tails and manes look as good as with the black.
Not to mention, the Dales Pony is an endangered breed with only around 5,000 in the world, so if you find one, don’t let it pass you by!
Side note, learn more about what a pony is to fully understand the difference between a full-size horse and these miniatures.
The Percheron is a French draught horse breed that was originally bred for heavy lifting. This breed is the epitome of strength and elegance, standing between 15.1 and 18.1 hands.
Despite being so massive the Percheron is known for its easygoing nature and easy maintenance. If you’re looking for a black horse breed that doesn’t require a lot of muss and fuss, the Percheron is right up your alley.
The most common colour for the Percheron is black, but grey also makes an appearance quite often. This breed was originally developed in France where a mix with the Arabian bloodline in the 18th century gave this breed its incredible agility.
The strength of the Percheron is still used today in agriculture, but don’t let the muscle aspect fool you. The Percheron is slowly but surely making its mark on the dressage world.
Originally from Portugal, the Lusitano has a history as far back as the Roman Empire. These black horses are closely related to the Andalusian horse and are popular for their speed and endurance.
The Lusitano comes in a variety of colours, more commonly grey, bay, and brown, but also black. It stands at between 15-16 hands, so it’s pretty big.
Traditionally, the Lusitano was used for driving and dressage events, which they’re still used for today. While black is not the most common colour for the breed, a black Lusitano is stunning, with a strong muscular build.
Additionally, the Lusitano also has a gentle, giving, and noble temperament, that makes them the perfect event companion.
Mustang horses come from domesticated Spanish horses taken to America in the 16th Century. While some consider Mustangs wild horses they are ultimately domesticated, meaning Mustangs in the wild are considered feral.
The Mustang has a muscular body with hard hooves, making them the perfect trail-riding companions. They usually get between 14-15 hands tall and weigh around 360 kg.
This gorgeous strong breed comes in a variety of colours, but the most popular are chestnut and bay.
Finding a true black Mustang is rare, but we have to admit, it is one of the most beautiful horse breeds in black. The muscular body allows the black to sparkle in the sun, bringing out a rippled sheen on the coat.
9. American Quarter Horse
Known for their speedy runs, American Quarter Horses can be separated into two types, the stock type and the racing type. Whatever the type, the breed comes in a variety of colours with sorrel being the most common.
But our favourite has to be the black coat. Seeing the American Quarter Horse sprint is like a whirlwind making its way through the field, one blink and you might miss it! Plus, the breed does incredibly well in shows and nothing quite makes dressage pop like a black coat.
Originating from the Iberian Peninsular, the Andalusian horse has been around since before the 15th century. The Andalusian was once an incredible war horse known for its elegance and strength.
This stunning horse breed usually comes in grey or bay. So while a black Andalusian is a great sight, they are pretty rare. Even so, many of the grey Andalusians are actually born black (or at least very dark grey) before their coat lightens.
If you do manage to find one, you best believe you’ve got yourself a trainable event horse for jumping and dressage!
The Morgan horse is one of the oldest horses in America that has a long history that dates back to the 19th century. This beauty makes its way into our article because one of the most common coat colours is black. Mixed with its rideability, the Morgan is one of the most fantastic riding horses in the world for new and experienced riders.
This highly trainable horse breed was extremely popular during the American Civil War where its strength and steadfast nature made it the ultimate war hero companion.
The Morgan is strong for a compact breed, standing between 14-15 hands. It’s all thanks to the breed’s sturdy legs. But we have to admit, the arched neck is what gives the Morgan an elegance that is hard to match. When it comes to grace and poise, the Morgan horse remains undefeated.
If you’re looking for a show stopper, you can’t go wrong with a black Morgan, they perform exceptionally well in most equestrian disciplines. Plus, everything goes with black, so you shouldn’t be hard-pressed to find colours that pop in the dressage department.
As if that wasn’t enough, Morgans are often used as therapy horses because of their calm and comforting nature. This also makes them the perfect first-time rider companion for the young and old.
12. Peruvian Paso
The Peruvian Paso has developed a lot throughout the centuries through selective breeding programs in Peru. Ultimately, the breed can be traced to horses from Spain, Jamaica, and Central America, creating a truly unique horse.
They come in various colours including brown, chestnut, grey, and of course black. The most sought-after are the solid coats because white markings are quite common. Mixed with the thickness of the coat and mane, the Peruvian Paso has truly been blessed with the best.
One of the most popular characteristics of the Peruvian Paso is its unique gait, offering a smooth, fast, and comfortable riding experience over long distances. That means, not only getting from point A to point B in one piece, but a lesser chance of spending three days on the couch after a long ride.
The Peruvian Paso is a true gem for long-distance riders, they have the strength and endurance to keep riders comfortable. Not to mention the luxurious coat which has made this breed a top contender for horse lovers across the globe.
13. Tennessee Walking Horse
The Tennessee Walking Horse, aka the Tennessee Walker, is an all-American horse breed that was developed by mixing Canadian Pacers and Spanish Mustangs, creating a unique bloodline.
This strong breed comes in a variety of colours including brown, chestnut, grey, and black. Interestingly, foals of the black Tennessee Walking Horse start a mousy grey and get darker as they get older, so don’t bet on the colour of the foals as they may change.
What makes the Tennessee Walking Horse so popular is its distinctive four-beat gait, providing a smooth fluid ride at higher speeds than the average full-sized horse. For example, the average 6-12 km/h for normal horses is easy work for the Tennessee breed that kicks it up a notch to reach 16-24 km/h.
The impressive Tennessee Walking Horse is one of the most popular horse breeds in America, reaching between a 400-700 kgs and a height of 17 hands. They are less common in the UK though, and you would be lucky to spot one.
Whether you want a good show companion or a long-distance trail partner, this black horse breed is up for the challenge.
What are the most common horse colours?
Black, chestnut, grey, bay, pinto, and palomino are all quite common. However, they all come in variations with some white markings and shades being more unique than others. For example, a true black horse without other hues is quite rare.
Are black horse breeds more difficult to care for compared to other colours?
Not in terms of health; the coat colour won’t affect a horse breed’s health.
Are there different variations of black horse coats?
Yes, a true black horse has no other hues or pigmentation, meaning a solid black coat, tail, and mane. Some horses have a red hue amongst the black, which might not look like it at first but does affect the deepness of the black over time.