Breeds That Include Black Horses

December 7, 2022
Black Horses

Black horses have always instilled a feeling of strength and power when we see them, associating them with the untamed beauty and a commanding presence these majestic creatures have stirred the emotions of boys and girls, young and old, throughout history.

Why black horses have always aroused a sense of mystique and unbridled power is unknown. Still, some of the world’s greatest and revered horses have been black beauties that have graced the racetrack, literature, and movies and have been the steady steed of royalty. We bring you some of the best black horses in America to stir up your childhood fantasies.

Black is an uncommon color in horses, so domesticated horses are bred to conform to a breed standard to specifically produce black horses. Here are six horse breeds that are uniquely black or that include black horses:

  1. Friesian
  2. Thoroughbred
  3. Arab
  4. Mustang
  5. American Quarter Horse
  6. Morgan

1. Friesian

Gorgeous friesian mare running in front of flowering plum trees

Friesians were bred to conform to the breed standard of jet black horses. The breed is exclusively black, with only a white star marking on the forehead permitted. Their temperament is gentle and patient, with devotion to the owners, making them popular in lower dressage, harness, and carriage events.

This majestic breed almost went extinct in the mid-1900s due to the decline in popularity of the multi-purpose horse; this breed’s population dwindled to a mere 500 horses. Today, thanks to an organization called De Oorsprong and the growing popularity of the Friesian, it is estimated that there are about 60,000 Friesians globally.

Originating in the Netherlands, Dutch horses were crossed with Andalusian Spanish breeds to create an agile, lighter horse that could carry a knight in full armor into battle.

A well-known horse that has graced the silver screen was Othello, the majestic black stallion that plays Goliath in the 1985 film Ladyhawke, making the Friesians a popular breed in the Northern United States.

Another more recent star is Frederik the Great, unofficially crowned the most beautiful horse in the world; he has more than 40,000 followers on Facebook.

2. Thoroughbred

Beautiful Thoroughbred Horses grazing in Meadow in early summer,

The thoroughbred horse evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries when Arab sires were crossed with native running horses to satisfy the English aristocracy for their enthusiasm for horse racing.

Characterized as highly strung, the thoroughbred horse has incredible physical stamina, and their long hind legs mean they can attain maximum thrust when galloping. In addition, they have lean heads with large nostrils, gracefully arched necks, and strong muscular forearms.

Actual black thoroughbred horses are relatively rare and often confused with dark bays. To be registered as black horses, Thoroughbred must have an entirely black coat, apart from any white markings.

Originating in England, these horses that stand 15.3-17hh have become prevalent racehorses, competition, and pleasure riding horses in various disciplines such as dressage, showjumping, and eventing.

Black Gold was bred in Kentucky in the early 1920s and earned the nickname the Indian horse. He was the first horse to win the Derbies in four different states. Marguerite Henry, an American author who wrote children’s books based on true horse stories, wrote the story of Black Gold,  published in 1957.

3. Arab

Arabian horse

Arabs are incredibly brave and have a flashy movement that makes them look like they are dancing; Arabs are also known to be the oldest and noblest horse breeds. They are easily recognizable by their dished face and convex forehead with short fine heads. In addition, their expressive eyes are set wider apart and lower than that of other horses.

Their floating action with high tail carriage makes watching this breed a feast for the eyes, and their graceful cadence is light and fanciful. Still, they also have legendary stamina that makes them excel at endurance racing.

Arab horses originate from the Arabian Peninsula and have been used to improve many other horse breeds worldwide by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bones. They are not big horses, standing at an average of 14.3hh, but they are powerful.

One of the most famous Arabs must be Cass Ole; a Texan-bred black stallion that played the role of the black stallion in the 1979 movie the black stallion, based on the 1941 classic children’s book, and then again in The return of the Black Stallion in 1983.

4. Mustang

Mustang Horse

A true American breed, the mustang symbolizes power and freedom. These wild horses roam the prairies of the western United States and are a hardy, surefooted, and intelligent breed that can also make a trusted, spirited riding partner with the heart of a lion.

Although we call them wild horses, mustangs are, in fact, better known as feral horses, descended from Spanish domesticated breeds. Although black is a rare color, it is not uncommon to find black mustangs.

Mustangs breed in the wild and face the problem of overpopulation, so the adoption program allows people to own their very own mustang through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Although they are from Spanish stock, these beauties are American at heart and range from 14-15hh; you will find six types of Mustangs scattered across America, each with its own unique traits.

There have been a few very famous mustang horses over the years. However, I have not found a black one, perhaps they are rarer than we thought, but Cobra, a wild mustang that was adopted and given a chance, went on to compete and win the level 1 western freestyle dressage in 2015, where he earned a world championship title.

He continues to compete and win against pedigreed horses, and in 2018, he won the highest award that a horse could be bestowed with, where he was named Horse of the Year by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).

Cobra may not have been a black Mustang, but this dark bay went from reject to hero.

5. American Quarter Horse

American Quarter Horse

American Quarter horses were originally bred for farm work, herding cattle, and light draft work. Today, this stocky breed of horse, named for its ability to beat race horses at the quarter mile post, has become known as an all-rounder competing as a racehorse, show horse, reining and cutting horse, rodeo competitor, and an all-around family horse.

There are three types of American quarter horses, the stock type, halter type, and race and hunter type. These well-rounded muscled horses originated in Virginia have small refined heads with broad chests and powerful hind quarters, which come in almost any solid color, and black is one of them.

Ranging from 15-15.3hh, these powerhouses have also appeared in the limelight with Docs Keepin Time. This Black American quarter horse played the part of Black Beauty in the 1994 film adaptation of Anna Sewell’s 1877 novel.

6. Morgan

Morgan Horse

The Morgan Horse was one of the earlier breeds to be developed in the US. Morgan horses can be traced back to the founding father of the breed, originally named Figure, which was later changed to Justin Morgan after its owner.

The origin of Figure is a bit unclear, but it is said that this proud horse was found near the borders of Canada in Vermont.

Today the Morgan horse has four main bloodlines within the breed, Brunt, Government, Lippitt, and Western Working Families, each breeding the Morgan horse for a particular trait.

Figure was recorded to have stood at 14hh, but today the breed ranges from 14.1-15.2hh and is versatile enough that they can be used in various disciplines in Western ridings such as western pleasure, cutting, and stock horses, even being used in English classes such as dressage, showjumping, and endurance riding.

Some well-known Morgan horses include Black Hawk, this 19th-century Grandson of Justin Morgan (Figure) was an influential stallion known for his speed and style. He sired 1772 foals through the seasons of 1844-1856 during his time with his last owner David Hill to which he was sold for $800.

Then there is Casey Jones, an American western silent movies horse star that performed his own stunts like jumping a vast yawning chasm with only the vocal cues of his trainer to direct him in the film Rex, King of the Wild Horses.

More Breeds That Have Black Horses

There are more breeds that produce beautiful, majestic black horses all over the world. Below is a list of horses and where they originated.

Horse BreedHeight in HandsOriginates From
Shire17hh +England
Tennessee Walking Horse14.3-17hhTennessee, US
American Saddle Bred14-17hhKentucky, US
Missouri Fox Trotter14-16hhMissouri, Arkansas, US
Colorado Ranger Horse15.2hhUS


Black horses may not be as common as the bays and greys you find in most breeds, but they do exist. Even though it is a recessive gene, the color black can be found in many different breeds. Their elegance and mystic allure they exude have produced some truly inspirational stars that have taken our breaths away.

So, if you are hunting for your next black beauty, consider these breeds of horses and have patience; you may be the owner of the next Black Stallion.



I'm Bo, the owner of Smarter Horse. Helping horses be smarter by educating their people.  To find out more about me, click here

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