Horses can be classified by size and build as light horses, ponies, and draft horses.

Light Horses

belong to breeds whose members average 14–2 to 17 hands in height and weigh an average of 900 to 1,400 pounds (400 to 635 kg).


belong to breeds whose members average less than 14–2 hands in height and weigh, on the average, 500 to 900 pounds (225 to 400 kg). (Some individual horses belonging to full-size breeds may be this small, but they are not classified as ponies.)

Draft Horses

belong to breeds whose members average 14–2 to 17–2 hands in height and weigh 1,400 pounds (635 kg) or more.

Light horses and ponies are sometimes further classified, by use, into riding horses, race horses, and driving horses.

Riding Horses

include pleasure horses, used for ordinary recreational riding; show horses; stock horses, the “cow ponies” or ranch horses of the western United States; polo ponies; and hunters and jumpers. .) Most horses used for simple leisure-time riding in the United States are of mixed ancestry.

Race Horses

of the United States include Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Quarter Horses. .) Horses used for steeplechases (races over obstacles) are classified as riding horses.

Driving Horses

are light horses or ponies that pull vehicles for purposes other than racing. Once a primary means of transportation, they are now driven mainly in horse shows. Light horses in this classification are of three types—showy, powerful heavy harness horses, or carriage horses (the Hackney breed is used); graceful fine harness horses (the American Saddle Horse is most often used); and speedy roadsters (the Standardbred is commonly used). Ponies used for driving are classified as harness show ponies and heavy harness ponies.