Grey horses are born with some color and can be almost any color at birth, but they have a grey modifier, which means that every time the horse sheds its coat, more and more grey hairs appear. As such, a grey horse will get lighter and lighter, as it ages until it is virtually white when it reaches old age.
Although almost any breed of horse can be grey, some are especially known for this coloration. Below, we have included details of 12 grey horse breeds.
The 12 Grey Horse Breeds
The Andalusian is an ancient breed that has heavily influenced most modern breeds. Modern Andalusian horses can trace their history back to the Carthusian monastery of Jerez de la Frontera. During the war, this monastery was known to have kept a small herd of horses secret and these horses were used to replenish the remaining stock.
Since the second half of the 20th century, the Andalusian has been exported to countries like the USA and Australia. The horse averages a height of just over 15 hands and has an athletic and strong look. It is used for general riding and pleasure riding, as well as shows and competition.
While the Andalusian is believed to be one of the oldest breeds, the Araboulonnais is a new breed. The French horse was created by crossing the Boulonnais with Arabians.
The breed started in the late 20th century and, despite the fact that it is a new breed and does not have breed standard characteristics clearly defined, it is known to have an average height of 15.5 hands and is usually considered a gentle and caring horse. As well as being used for agriculture work, the breed is also ridden for pleasure and trekking.
One of the breeds used to create the new Araboulonnais breed is the Boulonnais. This is a large draft breed but is widely considered to be one of the most elegant of draft horses. It has a white coat and a long mane and tail. As well as creating the Araboulannais, the Boulonnais has also been used to influence various other draft breeds.
The Boulonnais measures 16 hands, on average, and it is a strong and muscular-looking horse. It is a friendly animal and is used for many purposes, including as a carthorse and for riding. It is also raised for meat.
4. Camargue Horse
The Camargue is another breed that originates from France. Until the latter half of the 20th century, this breed was allowed to run wild and there were no official breeding programs. The horses were influenced by those that were left behind by travelers passing through.
To maintain the prehistoric bloodline, a breeding program and studbook were introduced in 1978 and the modern Camargue measures up to 14 hands high. Its life on the plains means that the Camargue is a hardy animal that is capable of withstanding difficult conditions.
5. Carthusian Horse
The Carthusian is a branch of the Andalusian horse breed. In fact, many people consider it to be the purest remaining strand of the breed. The horse gets its name from the monastery where the horses were hidden to survive war in the 18th century.
Today, the breed is considered very rare and measures up to 16 hands. It is used as a riding horse and as a show horse.
The Chumbivilcas breed comes from Peru and was once highly favored by the county’s army because of its hardiness and athletic prowess. They are a small breed, measuring 14 hands high, but they are strong. The breed is also considered a friendly and amicable one.
Today, the Chumbivilcas is used less as a warhorse and more for transport and as a riding horse. They can live on sparse vegetation and have a lot of stamina under the saddle.
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The Dilbaz is from Azerbaijan and was bred in the 18th century by combining Arabian and Turkish breeds. Around the mid 20th century, breed cooperatives were formed to preserve the bloodline and ensure the survival and prosperity of the breed.
Today, the Dilbaz measures up to 14.5 hands and it can have an uncertain character. The Dilbaz is used to improve other breeds and for riding. It also finds use as a packhorse.
Bred in the Czech Republic in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Kladruby shares some heritage with the Lipizzan breed. They were once used as carriage horses in Vienna but 200 years of breeding history were lost in a fire in 1759. Since that time, breeding has been restricted to concentrate on back and white examples.
The breed is quite tall, measuring up to 17 hands high, but the Kladruby is considered to be in danger because of low numbers. Its only use outside private ownership is in sport driving.
The Lipizzan is a very well-known horse breed. They are the breed associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Although the breed is named after what is now an Italian village, the Lipizzan belonged to Austria at the time that the breed was established and so the Lipizzan is acknowledged as being an Austrian breed.
Bred from the ancient Iberian breed, the Lipizzan measures between 15 and 16 hands and is a very athletic horse breed. The breed is considered rare although it has fans all over the world that are aiming to increase its number. The lively horse is considered kind and can be trained in a host of different physical disciplines.
The Lusitano is considered the brother breed to the Andalusian because it shares the same ancestry. The Lusitano, however, was bred for use in the bullfighting ring. It is very agile and highly spirited, which makes it useful in the bullring but may negate its use as a general or pleasure rider.
The horse is 15 hands high and is considered to have an athletic build. It is intelligent, affectionate, and very brave.
11. Spanish Norman
The Spanish Norman is a horse that combines the Andalusian and the Percheron breeds of Spain and France respectively. A registry for the breed was only established in 1991 and the Spanish Norman has been bred as a means of recreating the warhorses of ancient Europe.
Measuring up to 17 hands high, the Spanish Norman is strong and robust, is considered calm, and is willing to be trained and ridden. It is used for shows, competitions, and for training and general riding.
The Unmol is an Indian horse breed that comes from Punjab. Its name translates as “priceless” and it is believed that the horse was first taken over to India by Alexander the Great. The ancient breed was more grey, but since the modern breed includes Arabian genetics it has become slightly more white, although some breeders do claim to have examples of the original purebred Unmol.
The horse is 15 hands high and it is most often used as a riding horse for transport and pleasure riding.
Grey horses can occur in any breed, but the 12 breeds above are those that are considered to be grey breeds or that most often feature grey coats.
You can make an estimated guess as to the age of a grey horse because the greying effect gets lighter and lighter and the horse’s coat gets closer and closer to white as the horse ages.
Featured Image Credit: Alla-Berlezova, Shutterstock