12 Black Horse Breeds

12 Black Horse Breeds

Many horse breed associations allow for a variety of solid coat colors. One of the most common colors is black. Some breeds are even known for their stunning dark coats even when other colors are approved. There are also horse breeds that tend to be brown, bay, or chestnut as their preferred color, but all-black horses are also an option and approved for registry.

It is difficult to ignore the majesty and grace that is present when you’re in the presence of a black horse. Black Stallions have been the subject of numerous stories in our literature over the centuries. 

The total list of horse breeds that can be black is hundreds long. There are, however, a handful of breeds where the black coat is the signature look for the horse.

#1. Orlov-Rostopchin

These exotic horses have a brilliant black coat, a classic appearance, and one of the best known Russian horse breeds. Although the breed was almost extinct after the second world war, there are several studs that are working to restore the breed. They are willing, easy to train, and have a quiet temperament. Today they are typically used as a riding horse thanks to its high-energy levels and overall spirit. 

#2. Friesian

These striking horses have a long-flowing mane and tail that immediately draws the eye. They are good under saddle and in the harness, with a talent for dressage. It is a heavier horse than other breeds that tend to be black, with a warm-blooded temperament, and a rigorous approval process must be passed for a horse to be included on the breeding registry.

You can recognize a Friesian by its long, arching neck and powerful shoulders that are compact, but somewhat sloping. There is also feathering on the legs, which helps to add pronounced optics to the high-stepping trot that most horses in this breed tend to have.

#3. Calvina

This is one of the rarest breeds in the world today. Originally developed in the 19th century, it is unknown if there are any purebred horses left. Their home was the western cape of South Africa, crossing local mares with Arabian and Thoroughbred bloodlines. These horses tend to be very calm and graceful, with a willing attitude.

#4. Kabarda

This is another black horse breed that comes out of Russia. The modern horse conformations have been in place for at least four centuries, but the breed origins may date back as far as the Hittite civilization.

This breed is known for its ability to adapt to changing situations and environments. Bred in regions where unpredictability is the norm, there is a certain endurance to these horses that isn’t found in most other breeds.

Efforts to improve the breed with Thoroughbreds actually led to the development of a new breed, the Anglo Kabarda, in the first half of the 20th century. This has led to an endangerment of this breed, with only a few hundred purebred mares remaining.

There are three sub-types that are recognized. The basic type is the primary horse, being well-muscled and suited as a general mountain horse. The Asian type looks more like an Arabian, with a thinner skin, hot temperament, and a smaller head. The massive type is heavier and taller, with a structure that is more suited to being a carriage horse.

There are sure-footed, making them a good saddle horse. They are still used today in the mountains of Russia for agricultural purposes.


#5. San Fratello

This Italian horse breed is hardy, often being used for light draft work. They were bred to adapt to the local environment, which has led to them being strong and having a high level of endurance. Most colts are trained to be pack horses in Italy today because breeding stock is carefully selected. Strict conformations, including coat color, are followed to provide consistency to this breed.

About 5,000 horses are around Sicily today, making it one of the more popular indigenous horses in Italy. 

#6. Dales Pony

This is a native horse breed to the mountains and moorlands of the United Kingdom. It’s a hardy breed that is known for its stamina and intelligence. It has a generally calm temperament, which made it a good war horse through the end of World War II. It is considered a rare breed today, since it was primarily used in lead mining activities outside of war, but is on the rebound today.

The Dales Pony is one of the few horse breeds that features inward curving ears. It is also one of three known breeds that is a carrier of a fatal genetic disease known as Foal Immunodeficiency Syndrome. In 2010 testing, 12% of the horses in the UK were found to be carriers for FIS. 

#7. Ariegeois

More frequently referred to as a Merens, this breed of horse comes out of the rustic Pyrenees and Ariegeois Mountains in Southern France. It’s a sure-footed horse, adapted to mountain terrain, but does have a sporting sub-type that is stronger, taller, and faster. Often used for farm work and as pack horses, this breed is one of the few that is known to participate in a seasonal migration when left on its own. Owners today are now replicating this migration to reinforce the durability of the breed.

At one point in the 1970s, there were only 40 horses registered in the official stud book for this breed. Herd sizes are still small, but it is a breed that is on its way back up thanks to a number conservation and breeding programs.

#8. Asturcon

Found in Northern Spain, the ancestry of this horse isn’t really known. In some ways, it shares traits with the Merens breed, with both living in a similar region. These horses are extremely resourceful, often able to live in harsh areas where other breeds would be unable to survive. They are a semi-feral breed, but can be easily domesticated when caught. They are popular for driving, riding, and are often used as pack horses.

Their unique ambling gait has also been used to help produce the Irish Hobby horse. This influence can be seen in Irish Sporting horses as well. 


#9. Fell Pony

This black horse breed can be found in the mountains of Northern England. It is primarily used for driving and riding and is very similar to the Dales Pony. It just happens to be a little smaller in its build. It is a strong and sure-footed horse that has a tremendous amount of agility. They are adaptable to virtually any climate.

The history of this breed may date back before the Roman occupation of the area. In the past, brown was the preferred color for this breed, but the modern Fell Pony is preferred black. They are highly intelligent and are often used for recreational riding today.

#10. Losino

This horse, like many others, saw a population decline in the 1950s. By 1986, there were an estimated 30 animals remaining. Today there are an estimated 200 approved horses. They have a small frontal profile, smaller ears, and a flat forehead. Their trademark look is the mane and tail, which is abundantly long and thick. Foals have a coarser coat for the first couple of years because of the colder climates of its homeland.

This is one of the few breeds where black is the only acceptable coat color. A purebred Losino that has any white spots on the coat beyond a permitted star on the forehead is not counted in the population numbers for this breed.

#11. Menorquin

Indigenous to the island of Menorica, this is a recent breed, having been recognized in 1989. There are about 3,000 horses in the world today, but only around 200 live outside of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the coast of Spain. It can be only black. Horses of other colors are not permitted to be registered. It can often be seen during the traditional island festivals that are held on Menorca and the other archipelago islands.

It is a slender and agile horse, never utilized for agricultural work on the island.

#12. Murgese

Developed from Arabian and Barb horses, this is a hardy horse that is known for its endurance. It is often used for cross-country riding still today. It originated in Italy, in the Murge region, while it was under Spanish rule.

The modern Murgese was developed from the best horses of the breed in 1926. The herdbook was established at that point to refine the breed and eliminate some of the diverse characteristics that existed at the time. A pool of 9 stallions and 46 mares was established, with three foundation stallions forming the modern bloodlines.

Small farms still use this breed for agricultural use and they are a very adaptable horse.

These black horse breeds embrace the romanticism and historical significance that we have with the equine world. Black horses will always be popular, no matter what their breed might be. Although any breed has the potential to produce a black coat color, these are the breeds that emphasize this trait.

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