What Is The Most Dangerous Horse Breed In The World?

Horses are often thought to be docile, gentle creatures with little in the way of defenses. It’s not uncommon for children to dream of owning a horse, asking year after year to receive one for Christmas. The simple truth is that, while horses are herbivorous prey animals, they are far from defenseless. 

Rather than any particular breed, the most dangerous horse is the horse that one becomes complacent with and lets down their guard. Adult horses range from 900 to 2,000 lbs. Horses have powerful legs that can be used to attack or defend themselves. Also, horses can and will bite. 

Having addressed that any horse can be dangerous, some horses are more likely to attack than others. Read on to learn more about which horses are most (or least) likely to attack, as well as how and why people misunderstand horses. 

How a Horse Could Hurt You, If It Actually Wanted To

As mentioned earlier, horses are large creatures that can kick and bite. Other ways that horses often hurt people are being stepped on by the horses or being bucked off.  The ways a horse can hurt you are consistent across all breeds, so here is a little more information about those various attacks. 

Kicks

Horses can kick with up to nearly 2000 pounds of force. They can kick with either their front legs or their hind legs. The hind legs can kick forwards, backward, or sideways, while the forward legs are more for forward strikes and stomps. Now, not all horse kicks will have nearly a ton of force, but it’s still a possibility. And keep in mind that that force is concentrated into the size of a hoof.

Now, couple that force with the fact that horses are often shod with metal horseshoes, and the result is extensive or even fatal damage to anyone on the receiving end of one. 

Being stepped on was mentioned as a way, separate from kicks, that a horse might hurt people, and then stomping was included with kicks. This isn’t meant to confuse; the primary difference is intention. A horse may accidentally step on a rider after they fall off, though they usually try to avoid this. On the other hand, a horse can use its front legs to stomp intentionally.

Bites

Horses are herbivores and will only eat plants. That, however, will not stop them from biting you. The danger of a horse bite is two-fold: first, a horse exerts a great deal of force with its bite. It can completely crush the bones of your hand if you are not careful. 

The second danger that comes from a horse bite is infection. A horse’s oral flora commonly contains the following bacteria, which can lead to serious (even fatal) post-bite infections:

  • Actinobacillus
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
  • Pasteurella

Falls

Now, there is falling, and then there is being thrown from the back of the horse. Falling from a height of 4.6 to 6 feet (the average size of a standard horse) is bad enough, but add the velocity of being thrown by these powerful animals; ouch. If the horse decides it doesn’t want you on its back, it has a couple of options:

  • Bucking – The horse throws its hind end upwards
  • Rearing The horse rises on its hind legs

While both are dangerous, rearing is the more dangerous of the two choices as the horse may fall back on you as well. And again, a horse can weigh on average between 900 and 2000 lbs. After falling, you could then potentially have a literal ton fall on you. 

Sources: IHeartHorses; Science Direct; The Spruce Pets; Hindawi; Horse & Rider

Wild Horse Breeds

When most people think and talk about “wild horses,” they are referring to “feral horses.” It’s believed that there is only one species of actual wild (i.e. – not domesticated or having domesticated ancestry) horse left – the Przewalski’s horse. Wild and feral horses are unpredictable, making them highly dangerous should a person attempt to approach them. 

Przewalski’s Horse

The last of the wild horses, known in Mongolian as takhi, came close to extinction until conservation efforts paid off. As of 2020, there were only an estimated 2000 of these horses in the world, found in zoos and reserves. These horses are still endangered, but not extinct. 

Takhi, not to be confused with the domesticated Mongolian horses, are not used as riding or show horses. Part of this may be that it is considered a holy animal in Mongolia, but mostly it is because they are too wild and will not allow it. 

Another distinction between these wild horses and their domesticated counterparts can be found in their genetics: the Przewalski’s horse has 66 chromosomes, whereas a domesticated horse only has 64. 

Mustangs

Not just a muscle car, mustangs are feral horses found in the western United States. They are descendants of the Iberian horses that escaped after being introduced to this continent by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. These horses have since bred with other breeds like the Quarter horse and Draft horses to create the breed we know today. 

In the past, mustangs would be captured and broken to sell. Now, feral horses in the U.S. are strictly protected with laws in place prohibiting:

  • Feeding
  • Watering
  • Harassing
  • Touching

Most national parks want humans to remain at least 100 feet from feral horses. This causes most mustangs to be unfamiliar with humans and see them as a potential threat.

Mustangs pose the largest threat to people wandering through their territory, especially if they travel by horse. There are anecdotes of Mustang stallions that have attacked people to attempt to steal their mare.

In addition to being potentially hostile, it is argued that mustangs are harmful to the environment when left unchecked. Mustangs have no natural predators and their numbers can multiply rapidly if not for human interference. 

Australian Brumbies

These feral horses were introduced to Australia in the late 18th century. An invasive species, the Brumbies were allowed to wander and run freely in the mostly unoccupied parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland & Northwestern Australia.

Brumbies in the past, like mustangs, have also been broken to use as mounts. However, while there are laws strictly prohibiting people from interacting with Mustangs in the U.S., there are no such laws in Australia. Also, like the Mustangs of the U.S., Brumbies become overpopulated without human interference. 

Brumbies may tend to be a little shyer and try to avoid humans. This could result from Brumbies learning to associate humans with danger due to concentrated culling efforts in Australia. Timid as they may be, Brumbies are still wild animals and unpredictable. 

In 2019, there were reports of increasing numbers of Brumbies visiting the campgrounds at Kosciuszko National Park. With these increased numbers are increases of incidents involving injuries caused by the horses.

Source: HorseBreedsInfo; Smithsonian Magazine; Scientific American; ResearchGate; San Diego Global Zoo Library; American Wild Horse Campaign; Live Science

Domesticated Horse Breeds

Due to the decrease in horse use in transportation, farming, and military applications, fewer and fewer people have regular interactions with horses. Their experience with horses comes mostly from the fictional media they consume, where often horses are humanized and made into noble or gentle companions. 

Those that do have regular interactions with horses are mostly exposed to mares and geldings (castrated male horses). Both in the wild and domesticated settings, stallions tend to be much more aggressive.

Thoroughbred

Thoroughbreds can be traced back to 17th Century Great Britain, where three imported stallions (one Turk and two Arabians) became the foundation of the thoroughbred line. These horses were bred as racehorses for their strength, speed, and stamina. 

Thoroughbreds are considered to be a “hot-blooded” breed. Hot-blooded horses are typically characterized as:

  • Intelligent
  • Spirited
  • High strung
  • Energetic
  • Often bad-tempered

These are typically not the right choice of horse for beginning riders.

That being said, an experienced horse rider and trainer will be more likely to recognize and respect the potential dangers of these horses and be better equipped to avoid injury. 

Akhal-Tekes

Another “hot-blooded” horse, the Akhal-Teke, originated in the deserts of Turkmenistan. They were bred for their athleticism by the nomadic peoples that lived in the deserts. They lived closely with the people, as both were dependent on the other for survival. 

Modern Akhal-Tekes are commonly intelligent, athletic, and loyal. This loyalty is part of what makes the Akhal-Teke more likely to attack a person. They will often only bond with one rider; furthermore, they will seek to protect their rider like a guard dog. This can lead to them kicking or biting anyone they perceive as a threat to their rider. 

Warhorses

Warhorses aren’t an individual breed of horse; many different breeds have been used for war throughout history. But in terms of domesticated horses that are dangerous, it bears mentioning that horses were not only used to carry soldiers and equipment. 

Yes, some horses were used to carry messages or help important figures make a fast escape, but the true warhorses helped fight. They would kill or maim both enemy soldiers and/or their horses. These horses weren’t necessarily violent, but they were trained to kill and did so with great success

Source: Easy Breeze Farm; The Spruce Pets; Horse Racing Sense; Horse Rookie; Kurtz Corral

Warning Signs That a Horse May Attack

Now that you know that you need to be mindful around all horses, here are some warning signs a horse may give to indicate they are ready to attack.

Ears

Horses use their ears to communicate a few things. If only one ear is back, or both are only slightly back, it could mean that the horse is listening to something behind it. If both ears are stiffly pointed forward, and the horse is flaring its nostrils, this is a good sign that the horse is likely scared. This is a sign to look for, as fear is one of the main reasons a horse will lash out. 

If both of the horse’s ears are slicked far back, this is likely its way of letting you or another horse know that it is angry. Dogs do this as well when they are preparing to fight, as they recognize their ears as vulnerable; pulling them back is a way of protecting them. 

Biting

That is to say, mimed biting. If the horse bites you, you’re beyond a warning.  If the horse is baring its teeth and biting at the air, it’s letting you and anyone else know exactly what it wants to do.

Eyes

Horses, as prey animals, can see an almost panoramic view around their body. However, they will focus on what is bothering them. If you find a horse is focusing on you and keeps moving its body so that it can keep focused on you, you’re likely making the horse angry or scared. Approach cautiously.

Body Angling

If a horse is angling its backside in your direction, that is the horse’s way of letting you know you may be on the business end of a mighty kick soon. 

One who isn’t familiar with horses may think that a horse can’t angle its backside toward a target while also adjusting its body to keep a focus on said target. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As mentioned before, horses can see almost entirely around their body, but they can also turn their heads pretty far back. They can also kick forward, backward, and to either side.

Tail Swishing

When a horse is whipping its tail back and forth, this is a horse’s way of signaling its agitation. It’s how it both flicks flies and tells other horses to back off. Be cautious if a horse is doing this because a kick may not be far behind. 

Source: Extension; Equestlife

Reasons Horses Get Aggressive

Horses aren’t necessarily trying to hurt you (though they are not above bringing the pain); sometimes, they are merely trying to communicate.

Lack of Resources

Food, water, and shelter. If a horse isn’t given enough of these essential resources to remain comfortable, they will let their displeasure be known. 

Fear

Horses are prey animals. When they feel threatened, they have two options: fight or flight. Being that they have the physical capability to protect themselves, they likely will. 

Poor Training

When a horse is offered food as a reward taken directly from a human, the next step for a horse is to start searching for food on the person’s body. They’ve learned that people have food somewhere on their person, and they will bite at pockets and clothing trying to find it. 

Allogrooming

The horse might be trying to be nice when they bite at you! Allogrooming is when two horses groom each other. When this happens, they often bite at each other’s neck and withers (but not in an aggressive way). A horse may try to engage in this practice with its handler while being groomed, but this behavior should be stopped so that the horses learn not to do that. 

Pain and Discomfort

Sometimes a horse lashing out at you is just a way to let you know something isn’t right. If something on their saddle doesn’t fit right, they’re not likely to suffer in silence for long. They also kick at biting insects and flies on and around their stomach and legs. 

Source: Monty Roberts

Least Dangerous Breeds

As mentioned previously: all horses have the potential to harm you. With that being reiterated, it’s interesting to note that some of the largest, most powerful horses also tend to be some of the best-tempered horses that are least likely to hurt you intentionally.

Shire Horses

Shire Horses are currently the largest horse breed in the world, with an average height of 17.2 hands (5 feet 10 inches) and an average weight of 2000 lbs. (that’s an American ton). They’re big. But are they powerful? Yes. Though sources vary, it’s stated that in 1924 a pair of Shire horses pulled a load of at least 45 tons. 

Just as there are “hot-blooded” breeds, there are also “cold-blooded” breeds that tend to be calmer, less high strung, and better suited for slow and heavy work. Shire horses fall into this category along with Clydesdale, Percheron, and Belgian draft horses.

Miniature Horses

While not as impressive in stature as the gentle giant cold-blooded horses, miniature horses also have a casual attitude and genial personality. They are often used as therapy animals due to their friendliness and demure size. 

Norwegian Fjord

Not mentioned yet are the “warm-blooded” horse breeds. As you might guess, “warm-blooded” horse breeds tend to have a bit of the best of both “cold-blooded” and “warm-blooded” horses. The Norwegian Fjord is amongst this category. They are smaller and faster than the “cold-blooded” horses but much more level-headed and mellow than “hot-blooded” horses. 

Norwegian Fjords are often used as a draft horse despite their smaller size. Due to their gentle nature, Norwegian Fjords are also often used as therapy animals. Additionally, they are commonly used in riding schools because they are so easy to work with.

As pleasant as the Norwegian Fjords can be, they like to stay busy. Like the “hot-blooded” horses that don’t have their energy channeled into something productive, an idle Norwegian Fjord can develop behavior issues. 

Holistapet; Skipper W Breeders; Farming Magazine; Karina Brez;

Conclusion

Horses are mighty creatures that, while they may be prey animals, are more than equipped to defend themselves if necessary. Most wild and feral horses aren’t accustomed to human interaction. If you encounter them, you should not approach them. For one thing, it’s illegal in the United States, but you could also be seriously injured or killed. 

In the domesticated world, the more “dangerous” horses are the ones that are bred to have excessive energy, speed, and power. Just like with children and dogs, excessive energy that isn’t channeled into some desired activity (such as racing) can lead to acting out and misbehavior. 

All horses have the potential to do great bodily harm to a person. Still, situational awareness and understanding of equine nature and behavior can significantly reduce the risk of intentional injury by a horse. 

There are around 300 to 350 different breeds of horses. It entirely depends on what you consider ‘dangerous’. Dangerous in terms of speed, in terms of strength, in terms of work, in terms of their cost, or in terms of intelligence.

It is hard to find an all-rounder horse. Every horse breed has its own specific trait based on which they are distinguished and considered worthy, respectively. To me, personally, the most dangerous horse is the spoilt and disrespectful one that is not easy to deal with.

Numerous breeds of horses are there which are broken down to the following 4 types:

  • Light horses
  • Heavy horses
  • Feral horses
  • Ponies

There are specific breeds that are considered superior to others on the bases of their qualities.

Carolina Marsh Tucky

It is a rare horse breed. Marsh horses are one of the most beneficial horses mostly found in South Carolina. Physically they are strong but smaller in size with large feet. They survive in all types of weather conditions, from frost season to scorching sunny days. They are good at all kinds of tasks.

Arabian Horse:

They are unbelievably fascinating. These horses are born dark, and as they grow, their color goes lighter. This one is a human-loving breed of horses. As the name shows, they are native to Arab countries, but their origin is mysterious.

They are super athletic. These animals are distinct from others and thus are easily recognizable. They are incredibly photogenic, and people like to paint them as well. Relatively they eat less and live longer.

Morgan Horse

The Morgan horse is a relatively recent breed. They are muscular with a high arched neck. In terms of their task and performance, they are somewhat competitive. They live for about 20 to 30 years.

Friesian Horse

Also known as Belgian, blacks are native to the Netherlands. It is one of the rare breeds with unique characteristics. They amaze you with their beauty. They possess an elegant gait, and unlike others, they are very civil and gentle.

Gypsy Horse

As the name shows, they love to wander and go on long journeys. They are very energetic, and they run super fast. They respect their masters and are truly loyal. Sadly only a few of them are left now. Numerous skin colors can be seen among the breed.

What specific qualities make a horse dangerous?

Horses possess multiple qualities, and those having most of them are considered synonymous to dangerous.

  • Life span

Horses with short life spans can be dangerous in terms of their “durability.” Similarly, horses with a longer lifespan are generally more experienced, more volatile, and more robust, which is why they may be harder to tame.

  • Sharp senses

The sharper the senses of a horse, the quicker its response time. This particular feature is excellent for horses on the battlefield, and horses for such purposes have been identified based on this characteristic since long ago. Naturally, such breeds are also more vigilant and prone to attack, which is why they might be dangerous.

  • Strong bones/limbs

This one is quite obvious; the more muscular and bigger an animal, the more overwhelming, intimidating, and dangerous it can be. This general rule applies to horses as well.

  • Alternate eye vision

A horse with better vision is more vigilant, responsive, and alert. Thus, many consider such species hard to tame and dangerous in domestic environments.

  • Speed

Obviously, if a horse is fast, you will have a hard time taming and maintaining it. Plus, to top it off, if the animal is healthy and big, there is a higher chance you will have absolutely no control over the giant animal.

Velká Pardubická Racing competition

It is assumed to be the most challenging and most dangerous horse racing competitions. In this race, very tough and rugged horses participate. The owners train them for years, precisely so that they can ace the game.

Animal rights are placed behind when it comes to this competition because it is such a hard race that many of the horses die, and others get brutally injured: all this for sheer festivity.

Racing track

The racing path is so tricky with plenty of obstacles to endure that, for many years, none of the participating horses won. In 1993 only one horse made it to the end, and the rest all died. Later, people thought to make it easier because it was merely not accomplishable.

Participant horses

The horses that participate in a particular race are far from being normal. They are treated differently from birth, and trainers work attentively with them throughout—no wonder why they are superior to other domesticated horses. The food served to them is purposed to provide them with great strength and stamina. Cowboys select the most vicious and dangerous breeds so that the horse can undergo all sorts of conditions and survive till the end.

Do horses enjoy racing?

Horses are born with running and jumping abilities, and they like doing these without even being commanded. They are never forced to do so. But if they do not want to run or be in the wild, they are stubborn enough to oppose doing what is told of them. They are mighty enough to plant their feet on the ground firmly and do not move if they do not want to.

When it comes to racing, they enjoy being with fellow horses, but they can not stand being hurt and injured, just like any other living thing. They are incredibly sensitive to pain. Most of their failures are the result of limb injuries. Not to forget that when a horse falls, the rider jockey also suffers.

In Conclusion

Horse breeds can be dangerous in many ways, depending on where they are, what their genetics is like, and how you treat them. They can be hazardous in terms of performance, anger, behavior, their prices, and a lot more. The answer to the question “Which is the most dangerous breed of horse?” depends solely on what you consider as “dangerous.”