Last Updated on April 18, 2023
Horses are one of the most well-loved animals around the world, and black horses, in particular, are hugely popular! However, it can be rare to find a breed of horse that is always black in color. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous large black horse breeds!
Each breed of horse has its own distinctive appearance, and some will be only found in one or two colors. Many people prefer one color of the horse over another, with many fans of black horses seeking out these elegant steeds. But which are the best black horse breeds and do they make good riding horses?
Most Famous Large Black Horse Breeds
The color black is relatively common amongst the horse population, and many horse breeds will have black horses among their number. However, some horse breeds are famous for exclusively being black, or for having a high percentage of black-colored horses. If you’ve been wondering what are the big black horses called, we’ve got some world-famous examples for you right here!
The Friesian horse is one of the most famous and easily recognized large black horse breeds. With a statuesque and noble appearance, this flashy and elegant horse is one of the most beautiful and biggest black horse breeds in the world.
Nearly all Friesian horses are jet-black in color. To be registered in the Friesian studbook, they can have a small white star on the forehead, but no other white markings are allowed. Very rarely, a Friesian horse will be born which has the red gene, giving it a chestnut coat color.
The intense black coat color of the Friesian horse is shiny and polished. They have a long black mane and tail, which floats along elegantly as they move.
When it comes to large black horse breeds, the Friesian truly is king! They have a beautiful arched necks, chiseled facial features, and a highly refined prancing movement. For this reason, Friesian horses are often used for TV and film productions.
The Murgese is not a well-known breed of horse, but it is one of the most eye-catching black horse breeds in the world. This breed of horse originates from Italy and is descended from Arabian and Barb bloodlines. This gives them an elegant and refined appearance, as well as incredible levels of stamina and agility.
Murgese horses are nearly always black. Occasionally a dark-roan Murgese horse will occur. They are tall and strong, similar in build to a light draft horse.
This beautiful black breed of horse is popular as a versatile riding horse, often used for cross-country riding. They are very hardy and have tough hooves, able to withstand rough and treacherous terrain.
Unlike Friesians, which can be flighty and difficult to handle, the Murgese horse is calm and dependable. Fans of this breed love their impeccable manners and easy-going nature.
Percheron draft horse
The Percheron draft horse is one of the most highly regarded draft breeds in the world. Unlike other draft horses, the Percheron is elegant and noble, with a refined body shape. They move in a proud and flashy manner, due to the influence of their Arabian bloodlines.
Percheron horses were originally bred for use as a warhorse but quickly became popular as farm and wagon horses. They are hardworking and resilient, with a kind and forgiving nature.
These gentle giants of the equine world are often black. However, some Percherons are grey, and the American breed registry also allows roan, bay, and chestnut Percherons.
When it comes to large black horse breeds, the Percheron certainly takes the crown! These giant equines are amongst the biggest breeds of horses ever, standing up to over 18 hands high.
The Dales’s pony might not be big in height, but this is one of the strongest horse breeds in the world in relation to its size! The Dales pony is an ancient breed, native to northern England. The word ‘dale’ is an English term used to describe the open valleys of the northern areas of the UK.
The ancestors of the Dales pony have lived in areas of northern England such as the Yorkshire Dales for thousands of years. This tough and rugged pony was often used as a pit pony, pulling heavy loads from deep underground mines.
The vast majority of Dales’s ponies are black. The breed society will also accept registrations of the brown, bay, grey, and roan colors. There are also limits to the number of white markings which can be accepted in a pedigree Dales pony.
The Mérens horse is from the Ariegeois region, a mountainous area of France. They are very surefooted and have incredible levels of endurance, making them highly sought after for trail riding.
This breed of horse may not be well known, and it faced extinction in the mid-20th century. However, fans of this breed have worked hard to boost the numbers, and it is becoming more popular.
Mérens horses are always black. Their foals are sometimes born a lighter grey, but they become darker as they age. By the time the horse reaches adulthood, the coat will be jet black.
The Fell pony is another famous British native breed of horse. They have lived on British moorlands, also known as fells, since ancient times.
This popular breed of pony is almost always black. They are sometimes brown, bay, or grey. They have a long and flowing mane and tail which is incredibly thick and wavy.
The Fell pony is the smallest of our large black horse breeds, standing at just 13.2 hands high. However, its small stature does not stop it from being endorsed by royalty, with the Fell Pony Society enjoying the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II herself! The Queen of the United Kingdom is such a fan of Fell ponies that she has been seen riding them around her estates.
5 Top Facts About Black Horses!
The world of horse color genetics is a fascinating topic, and learning how and why a horse is a particular color can be very interesting. Let’s take a look at the color black in horses, to find out why some breeds have more black horses than others.
1: How do black horses get their coloring?
Black is one of two base coat colors of horses – the other is chestnut. All horse colors start with one of these two basic colors, and it is the action of other genes that gives us the myriad of different horse colors and markings. The black color gene is dominant over chestnut, but, with the right combination of genes, two black horses can produce a chestnut foal!
2: Do you need black horses to breed a black foal?
Here things start to get even more complicated! Bay horses carry the black color gene, and their bay coloring arises due to a different gene called the Agouti gene. So, two bay horses could pass on the black color gene but not the Agouti gene to their offspring, enabling them to produce a black foal.
3: Are black foals born grey?
Some foals are black when they are born, while others are born a mousy-grey color. This baby coat is shed over the first few months of life, revealing the jet-black adult coloring.
4: Do black horses fade?
There are two types of black horses – fading and non-fading. The coat of a fading black horse will lose pigment in direct sunlight, turning it paler during the summer months. In non-fading blacks, the color stays jet black all year round. Many owners of fading black horses put a summer sheet on their horses to protect them from sunlight.
5: Which color horses carry the black gene?
Black-colored horses carry the black coat color gene, but you’ll be amazed at the range of other horse coat colors that are based on black! This is because horses can also inherit other color-influencing genes, that alter the black base coat color to create a wide range of colors and markings.
Color dilution genes can alter the black base coat color in some dramatic ways. Black horses that inherit the silver dilution gene often have a beautiful chocolate brown dappled body coat and a silver/white mane and tail In contrast, the dun dilution gene on a black coat gives coloring known as grullo or mouse dun – tan-gray body hairs, a black mane and tail, and distinctive dun primitive markings such as a dorsal stripe along the back.
So, as our large black horse breed list has revealed, there are black horses in many different shapes and sizes around the world! From tough ponies to elegant riding horses and huge draft breeds, there is a black horse out there to suit anyone!
We would love to hear about your experiences with large black horse breeds – have you ever ridden one? Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of owning a magnificent black horse with a flowing mane and tail. Leave a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE