The all horse breeds are a result of natural selection and inheritable characteristics that have been selected for their suitability as racing horses. This is the case with all domesticated animals. The horse is also one of two extant species of Equus ferus, the other being the donkey. It is an odd-looking animal, belonging to the taxonomic group Equidae, with an unusually long face and limbs.
In comparison to other animals, horses have had very little natural selection since they domesticated themselves about four million years ago. Selection for robustness and endurance was probably not very high on the agenda, so that skeletal features were more or less set in stone. Nevertheless, the eventual purpose of selection, as in picking out the domestic cat or dog, was accomplished by crossing a strong strain with a base breed and breeding them.
Areas Of Crossbreeding
There are three primary areas of crossbreeding: the use of exotic breeds, such as the Barbet, which is flat-bottomed and stocky; the use of one breed, such as the Arab, that does not have a natural urge to fight, as is the case in the English Channel and the Channel, and the use of a consort in a breed, such as the Dama orchid, which is also stockier than its forebear, the Alaskan Malamute.
Crossbreeding these three to create a ‘hybrid’, as they are sometimes called, produced a large proportion of winners at competitive levels in the UK’s dressage events. So successful has this hybrid become that it is now used to breed other endurance horses. An interesting caveat is that even though the crossbreeds are vigorous and competent riders, they are unsuitable for use as racehorses, as their efficiency declines sharply at higher speeds. So much for the show ring!
Not so long ago, Arabian horses were considered by many to be a lost cause for those interested in show jumping. Their all-weather temperament, derived from their trade in salt and the long hot sun, was thought to render them incompatible as mounts. In recent years, however, new technological advances have helped to unlock the true potential of the Arabian. These include selective breeding for the production of faster and leaner breeds, as well as using only selected traits for improved ornamental qualities, both for show and utility. In all, it seems that modern-day Arabian horses have been revitalised and are enjoying a resurgence in popularity in many countries.
The American Holsteiner is another horse of the crossbreed persuasion. The American Holsteiner was developed from the American Thoroughbreds, whose temperament had proven difficult to alter. American Holsteins, in turn, are often crossbred with Dobermans, Great Danes, and German Shepherds. The result was a breed with both good, overall health and a highly trainable temperament – traits shared with many of the breeds in this crossbreed family. American Holsteins are great and incredibly beautiful animals, making them potentially very popular with horse breeders.
The Arabian, or Arabic, is an animal still enjoying a revival among riders. After centuries of being tamed and trained to be obedient, the Arabians are now prized as pets. They are good both as household and racing horses, though they do excel in the dressage and obedience category.
Arabian horses have also been tamed and used in the sport of polo, and although they are rarely used for competitive riding, they are hugely popular with equestrians and are considered by many to be the most graceful horse in the world. Tamed Arabians are now breeding in huge quantities worldwide, providing a ready supply for those who want Arabian horses but who do not want to pay the huge amounts involved in breeding and caring for them.
Spanish Ride PONY
The Spanish Riding pony is another crossbred breed that has gained a sudden popularity with horse riders. These horses are originally from Spain and have the temperament of a Thoroughbred. They have a naturally high prey instinct and have been tamed for many years as companions and racing horses. They have also found their way into the dressage category as an elegant and sophisticated rider.
Spanish ponies are now fairly commonplace in many families’ stables. Although they are no longer used on competitive racing grounds, they make an excellent choice for children learning the discipline of equestrian routes and for those who enjoy spending time with horses.
Finally, Thoroughbreds make an excellent choice for those wanting to start in the sport of horse racing. Thoroughbreds have a much higher starting price than many breeds, but are also much less likely to suffer from associated illnesses that more expensive breeds are prone to. In addition, Thoroughbreds are much stronger and mature than many other breeds, allowing them to compete easily within the more prestigious equine disciplines such as dressage, jumping and classical reining. Thoroughbreds also have a reputation as being less likely to get saddled and dropped than other breeds, although this is beginning to change. Many new Thoroughbred owners find that they have a natural desire for the sport and end up staying with the horse race after they have learned how to correctly ride and care for a Thoroughbred.