We all know that horses have beautiful manes and tails, but some horses take things a step further, so let’s take a look at horse breeds with long hair. These breeds have specific genes that result in them growing more hair than other breeds. This extra hair is a result of the breed’s evolution and the environment they come from.
The Clydesdale is the most recognizable of the horse breeds with long hair. The breed is famous for pulling the Budweiser carriages at demonstrations all over the United States. It is a draft horse that comes from Scotland.
When Scotland was in need of bigger stronger horses to work on farms, estate owners imported heavy horses to cross with local mares. With selective breeding in the 18th century, the Clydesdale Horse Society took shape a hundred years later, in 1877.
The Clydesdale is a type of draft breed. It is one of the biggest horses in the world, standing on average between 17 and 18 hands tall. Most Clydesdales are bay with white leg and face markings.
While the body of the Clydesdale does not have any more hair than other horse breeds, their legs have luxurious feathering. This long hair is silky and adds to the flair of this active moving breed. It has some of the thickest and heavy feathers of any other breed.
The Gypsy Vanner is a small draft horse, from Ireland and the United Kingdom. The breed comes from the Romani people, who needed a strong horse to pull their caravans, but a horse that did not require a lot of food. Unlike, other draft breeds, the Gypsy Vanner comes in many acceptable colors.
The majority of Vanners are black and white or bay and white. The Romani people took in horses that others did not want. This includes colored Shires, Hackneys, and any solidly built horse. All of this mixing gave us the Gypsy Vanner.
Gypsy Vanners have long, very thick leg feathers, similar to a Clydesdale. It is a smaller long hair breed that stands an average of 15 hands tall. Today, Gypsy Vanners don’t pull caravans very often anymore but work as quiet, sturdy riding horses.
The Friesian is one of the world’s oldest horse breeds. In the Middle Ages, Friesians were the mounts of knights, who needed a bold, strong, brave companion to enter into battle. During the 1800s, the breed went through a change, becoming lighter and more agile.
World War I nearly saw the end of the Friesian. After the war, only a few mares and one stallion were left. Breeders in the breed’s homeland of Friesland, northern Netherlands, took on saving the breed. If it wasn’t for these people, we would have lost this beautiful breed.
The Friesian has leg feathering from the fetlock down and a very thick mane and tail. The Friesian is black in color with little to no white markings.
For the next horse breed with long hair, we will step away from those with leg feathering and look at the Icelandic Horse. The Icelandic horse is one of the purest horse breeds in the world, with little to no crossing breeding in the last 1,000 years. Strict breeding ensures the unique fifth gait of the Icelandic horse, the tolt is preserved.
The breed descends from horses that came to Iceland with the Vikings. The harsh conditions of their Scandanavian and then Icelandic home created a breed that can survive extreme temperatures and very little food.
Every part of the Icelandic Horse grows the very thick, long winter coats it needs to protect it from frigid temperatures. This coat is up to 6 inches long. It is also has a double coat, and a narrower windpipe to protect the lungs from freezing.
The Shire is another draft breed with long hair, primarily on its legs. Like the Clydesdale, the Shire comes from the United Kingdom, this time from England. It is the largest of the draft breeds and boasts the tallest ever horse, Sampson, who stood 21.25 hands tall.
In the 1800s, Flemish horses and descendants of the British Great Horse were part of a breeding program to produce a strong, large horse to work on farms. The Shire does not have as much leg feathering as the Clydesdale.
The majority of Shire horses are bay, grey, or black. Chestnut is not an acceptable color within the breed standards. While all draft horses have incredible strength, the Shire is the strongest. A report from the 1920s states that a pair of Shire horses moved a load weighing 42 tons.
Long Haired Horse Breeds Conclusion
We’ve introduced you to some of the most interesting horse breeds with long hair, but they aren’t the only ones. Other breeds with long hair include the Fell Pony, Dales Pony, and the Swedish Northern Horse.
Long hair comes from environmental factors for which the horse had to adapt for survival. Do you have a favorite hairy horse breed? Let us know in the comments.