7 Graceful Black Horse Breeds You Must Know

Are you looking for black horse breeds that are great for riding?

Do you want to know which black horse breeds have the best temperament and personality?

If so, then this article is perfect for you.

I discuss some of the most beautiful horse breeds that would make excellent mounts.

What is A Black Horse?

galloping black horse with sky as the background

A black horse is a horse that has the color of a true black. Black horses usually have brown or dark chocolate-colored eyes, but they may also have blue eyes and white markings.

Black horses should not be mistaken for dark bay, or dark liver chestnuts, which are entirely different coat colors.

Some horses may lose the shiny black color through “sun bleaching” or poor nutrition, while others may retain their color throughout their lifetime.

Those that retain the color are known as non-fading blacks.

The Extension gene (“E”) and the Agouti gene (“A”) cause the black horse color. When the Extension gene is present, but the Agouti gene is absent, the horse will have a black coat.

But when both genes are present, the Agouti will mask the black color on some sections with other colors.

When the Agouti gene is present, and the Extension gene is absent, the horse will have a bay color. However, these genes don’t affect the look of the horse. Also, two black parent horses may not always lead to a black foal.

Black vs. Smoky Black

Various genes can affect the shade of black or any other base color. One common gene that acts on the black color is the creme dilution gene, producing a color known as “Smoky black”, which resembles a true black but may be lighter in some cases.

A Smoky black may be identical to a true black that has undergone sun bleaching. The best way to tell the difference is through DNA testing.

Other coat colors resulting from dilution genes include palominos (chestnut) and buckskins (bay).

Black HORSE BREED

Some horse breeds may be exclusively black, while others appear in a wide range of coat colors. With that in mind, below are the top black horse breeds.

#1 Murgese

Murgese horse, one of the most common black horse breeds

The Murgese horse breed is known for being very robust since they are raised in the countryside of Italy’s Murge region in a semi-wild system.

They originated in Italy when the country was under the Spanish regime and were very popular mounts for warfare during the 15th and 16th centuries.

They resulted from cross-breeding native horse breeds such as the Neopolitan with Barb and types of Arabian horses. This breed was also becoming extinct at some point, but the modern Murgese was re-established in the 1920s with the establishment of a herdbook.

The Murgese horse breed is only available in black, dark, or blue roan coat colors.

Murgese horses are often used for farm work and sometimes cross-country riding. Besides being hardy, they are also known for being very friendly, which made them great mounts during wars.

This makes them great for riding in various equestrian sports today.

#2 Friesian (Belgian Blacks)

Friesian horse

The Friesian horse breed is mainly recognized for its black coat color, but chestnut and bay coat colors are also possible.

But white marks aren’t allowed.

Originating from the Netherlands, the Friesian has a long history intertwined in war and agriculture.

Due to their muscular build, they could carry a knight in their full armor.

They were later developed into draught horses. When industrialization set in, workhorses were not needed anymore, so they were bred for sports.

Friesians are popular as carriage and dressage horses, though lighter Frisian horses (Friesian Sport horses) have also been developed for racing.

They are also quite common in movies due to their incredible disposition, bravery, and they are easy to work with.

Besides the black coat, they are also known for their flowing mane, which grows quite long, making them some of the most beautiful horses. I guess that’s why Kim Kardashian owns not one but 14 Friesian horses, according to people.com.

#3 Merens (Ariegeois Pony)

Merens, the black horse breeds, are eating grasses on the mountain

The Merens is an exclusively black breed of horse that originated in the mountainous Ariegeosis region in France.

While it’s not clear where this breed came from, it has been in the Pyrenees region for thousands of years.

Cave drawings in Niaux that date back thousands of years also feature horses that resemble the Merens, and they’ve formed part of the locals’ culture.

Merens horses were helpful along the mountains for farm work, mining, and transport of farm produce war artillery (mainly in the middle ages and during WWI and WWII), and wine.

That explains their agility, hardiness, and surefootedness.

They almost became extinct in the 20th century but were saved by enthusiasts (mostly hippies) and breeders in the late 1980s.

There are two types of Merens horse, a shorter mountain-bred type that’s at least 12 hands tall and a taller modern type that’s 15.1 hands tall.

They have the necessary build and athleticism to participate in equestrian sports and leisure-riding, though most have remained helpful in their traditional farm work in France and Spain.

Like the Murgese, the Merens horses also live in a semi-wild system where they are allowed to graze independently for some time.

#4 Fell Pony

Fell Pony in a hilly area

It seems like black horse breeds have a thing for mountainous regions since the Fell Pony also hails from hilly areas such as Westmorland, Cumberland, and Northumberland in England.

The word “Fell” comes from the word “fells”, which is how people from this region refer to the hilly areas.

The origin of this breed can be traced back to the 1st century when Romans were ruling England, and they probably descended from the Galloway pony.

Like most horses from ancient times, Fell Ponies were used for farm work, as packhorses, transport, carriage, riding, trotting, and even wolf-hunting.

While several breeds decreased in population during the industrial era, Fell Ponies were useful in transporting raw materials to the industries.

Modern-day ponies grow up 14-hands tall and are common in a wide range of equestrian disciplines.

They are still helpful as farm horses. Most Fell Ponies are black, but chestnut, grey, brown, and bay coat color variations also exist.

#5 Kladruber

a beautiful KLADRUBER black horse with a silky coat

With their origin dating back more than four centuries back, the Kladruber is the Czech Republic’s oldest horse breed and one of the oldest horse breeds in the world.

They were first bred for carriage usage during official events, mainly by the royal houses such as the House of Austria (also known as House of Habsburg).

The traditional term for this type of heavy carriage is galakarossier. Different kinds of horses bred for this purpose include the Groningen, Cleveland Bay, and Nonius.

Kladrubers resulted from interbreeding local heavy Czech breeds with Andalusians, Oldenburg, Danish, and many other horse breeds.

Earlier on, there were several color variations of the Kladrubers, but most of them are now either black or gray.

These two colors were developed through the infusion of other horse bloodlines. For instance, the black Kladrubers are a result of infusing the now-extinct Sacramoso and Napoleon.

Modern Kladrubers are known for their convex head, high-set arched necks, massive build, broad back, and deep chest. They are also valuable for many equestrian disciplines, including dressage, leisure riding, equine-assisted therapy, race teams, and mounts for police work.

Today, Kladrubers are pretty rare, and they are also a symbol of Czech’s cultural heritage.

#6 Dales Pony

dales ponies eating grasses

The Dales Pony is another horse breed that originated from the Fells of England, mainly Dales in Yorkshire.

Dales Ponies were quite valuable in the lead mining industry, which was prevalent around this region, as they helped transport the lead, fuel, and many other necessary materials.

Since they were developed as workhorses, they acquired hardiness, great disposition, and strength.

Infusions of the Galloway bloodlines, among other hardy horses, helped transform the Dales Pony to the modern type we have today.

The British Army also found them helpful in both World Wars, and they almost faced extinction until rebuilding programs were initiated. However, they still haven’t fully recovered since they are listed by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

Dales Ponies are mainly black, but you may come across brown, bay, gray, and roans. Since they traveled long distances with heavy loads, Dales Ponies are perfect for long-distance trekking or endurance racing.

They are also popular in show-jumping, eventing, and cross-country racing.

#7 Thoroughbred

black Thoroughbred horse

Thoroughbreds are some of the most popular modern horse breeds and are quite successful in various equestrian sports, including racing and show-jumping.

It was developed in England mainly for racing, and it contains Arabian, Barb, and Byerly Turk bloodlines.

Thoroughbreds are available in bay, white, chestnut, palomino, black, and gray. However, black thoroughbreds aren’t very common compared to the other color variations.

Black Horse Breed

Below are more breeds of horses that can be black.

  • Arabian
  • American Quarter Horse
  • Irish Draught Horse
  • Percheron
  • Tennessee Walker
  • Giara
  • Nonius
  • Mustang
  • Morgan
  • Trakehner

FAQs

How Rare Is A Black Horse?

Black horses aren’t rare. They may not be common in some breeds, but they are not rare. Some breeds such as the Fell Ponies, Murgese, Friesian, and Kaldruber are primarily black, and their population is growing. With cross-breeding between various breeds, black horse breeds may be more common in the future.

Do Black Horses Fade?

Yes, some of them do. Sun, sweat, and malnutrition are some of the reasons a black coats may fade. Non-fading horse breeds, also known as jet black horses, exist but they are quite rare. Feeding your horse the right horse food, bathing them regularly, and providing a shade are some ways to prevent fading.

Are Friesians Only Black?

Friesian horse gracefully standing while looking at the camera

Yes, all registered Friesians are black. But the shade may not always be true black. Some may be black-bay or dark brown.

Conclusion

So now you know about the best black horse breeds. Are any of them your favorite? I love the Friesian horse because of its incredible personality, strength, and charm. How about you?

Resources

  • About the Dales Pony – Dales Pony Society. www.dalespony.org/about-the-dales-pony/. Accessed 12 July 2021.
  • “Equine Coat Color Genetics 101 | Equine Programs.” Equine.ca.uky.edu, equine.ca.uky.edu/news-story/equine-coat-color-genetics-101.
  • “Horse Breed: Murgese.” Globetrotting, 20 Nov. 2017, www.globetrotting.com.au/horse-breed-murgese/. Accessed 12 July 2021.
  • The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Thoroughbred | Breed of Horse.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 22 June 2017, www.britannica.com/animal/Thoroughbred.
  • “The Mérens Horse of the Ariège Pyrenees.” Www.ariege.com, www.ariege.com/en/discover-ariege/agro-pastoralism/merens-horse. Accessed 12 July 2021.
beautiful Friesian black horse

What are your favorite black horse breeds? Please share with us below!

Peter
Peter

Peter was always been fascinated by horses. He got his first horse, a Morgan Horse, when he was 13 and he has been learning about them since then. He loves contributing on this blog to share what he learned so far. Find him on: FACEBOOK

SUBSCRIBE OUR NEWSLETTER

Want The Best Care For Your Horse? Subscribe to our EXPERT RIDER Tips