Types of Horses in Australia

Different colours of horse coats

This is yet another area that I really had to get my head around. I kept hearing the words cold-blooded, warm-blooded, gelding, mare, stallion, yearling, filly, colt, weanling, bay, dapple grey, brown, black and I had to really focus when it was all being explained to me 😂. I was seriously green around horses!

So if you’re also new to the horse world, let me help you understand the difference in lingo and the types of horses here in Australia.

The difference between hot, cold and warm blooded

A hot-blooded horse is known for speed and high levels of energy (think thoroughbred). A cold-blooded horse is bred for strength and endurance and are known for their calmer, laid back energy (think the big Clydesdale horses). A warmblood horse is a combination of the two and can be a bit of an allrounder particularly equestrian.

Age and sex of a horse

Weanling – a young foal under 1 year of age

Yearling – either male or female that is between one and two years old

Filly – a female horse under three years of age

Mare – a female horse over three years of age

Colt – a male horse under five years of age that has not been gelded

Stallion – a male horse that has not been gelded

Gelding – a male horse that has been gelded

Colours of horses:

There are many variations of horse colours (their coat) however I’m only going to give the four main coat colours being – black, brown, chestnut and bay. A bay is the most common colour with a bay horse having a brown body and black in tail, mane and/or lower legs.

I’ll also mention the dapple grey per the image. The dapple grey is the middle point of a horses coat turning grey. So beautiful.

Types of Horses:


A thoroughbred is commonly associated with horse racing and is known for its speed, agility, and athleticism. In Australia, off-the-track thoroughbreds (OTTB) are ex race horses that have been given a second life, usually in showjumping. Thoroughbreds can be quite spirited as they’re used to competing on the race track however, it is possible to come across a well-natured ex race horse.

A side note, when searching to buy a horse for our daughter (at 14), we found the thoroughbreds she trialled, especially mares, were A LOT to handle! We made the decision to steer clear of a thoroughbred for that reason even though a thoroughbred could be on the less expensive side.

Perhaps if she was a more experienced and advanced rider, a thoroughbred could’ve been an appropriate mount.

Australian Stock Horse

This breed is usually used for working on cattle stations and is known for its toughness, versatility, and ability to handle tough terrain. A stock horse can also be a good allrounder and used on trails and pleasure riding.


A Standardbred is known for its ability to trot or pace, rather than gallop and is used in harness racing (trots).

Quarter Horse

This breed is known for its speed and agility over short distances and is often used for rodeo events such as barrel racing as well as western pleasure riding.


This breed is a cross between a hot-blooded breed (a thoroughbred) and a cold-blooded breed (a draft horse) and is a popular breed for dressage and showjumping.

We ended up buying a warmblood/thoroughbred cross for our daughter’s first horse. A 16.2hh beautifully natured gelding, easy to manage on the ground, kind and forgiving under saddle. Would definitely buy another warmblood!

Pony breeds

There are several pony breeds found in Australia, including the Australian Pony, Shetland Pony, and Welsh Pony. These breeds are smaller in size than most horses and are often used for children’s riding lessons, pony club events and pony parties. Although small, some pint sized ponies can really tear up the arena with their speed and sometimes, their crazy temperament 😅

If in the equestrian space, thoroughbreds, warmbloods and ponies will be the main breeds you’ll find that are used for dressage and showjumping.

In Summary:

I was really invested in my daughter’s journey in the crazy world of horse riding which is why I educated myself in all things horse related. I hope this article gives you a good overview of the types of horses in Australia and if you’re interested, I’ve written another article that details all the horse related lingo that gets thrown around the stables. So click here to learn more.

Giddy up 🐎