Now located at the world-class Murieta Equestrian Center, the Western States Horse Expo offers you a unique experience that even the pickiest of horse owners will embrace. Bring your show horses, breeding stallions or latest foal crop and introduce them to tens of thousands of horse owners from all over the world while driving up exposure for your breeders and show managers! Stop singing to the choir and meet individuals who are eager to learn about the variety of breed options available to them.
As an attendee, you can learn more about your favorite breed directly from the associations or fall in love with a new breed and see them in action as they demonstrate their athletic ability, trainable minds and diverse natures. Take a stroll through the Breed Barns and meet the horses and the people that love and care for them. See the slider below to discover the breeds who will be participating in this year’s program!
The Paso Fino is a naturally gaited light horse breed dating back to horses imported to the Caribbean from Spain. Pasos are prized for their smooth, natural, four-beat, lateral ambling gait; they are used in many disciplines, but are especially popular for trail riding. In the United States two main groups of horses are popularly called “Paso Fino”: One, also known as the Pure Puerto Rican Paso Fino (PPR), originated in Puerto Rico. The other, often called the Colombian Paso Fino or Colombian Criollo Horse (CCC), developed in Colombia. Though from similar Spanish ancestors, the two groups developed independently of one another in their home nations.
The rise of the Paso Fino in the United States began in the 1950s and 1960s. The first Paso Finos in the United States were imported by members of the armed services, who purchased the horses while stationed in Puerto Rico. This stock provided some of the first Paso Finos bred in the United States.
Colombian Pasos came to the United States beginning with a rancher who visited Colombia and purchased quite a number of the horses to work his cattle. He introduced the second strain into the US. While the two strains are still bred individually to retain their purity, they are also crossbred to produce the best of both strains.
Today, the Paso Fino Horse Association (PFHA) oversees and regulates registered Paso Finos in the US. It was founded in 1972 under the name “American Paso Finos”, later changing to its current name. It registers and promotes both Puerto Rican and Colombian horses, and under the PFHA, the two groups have been frequently crossbred. As the numbers of Colombian horses have begun to significantly outnumber those of Puerto Rican bloodlines, a trend has developed favoring preservation breeding to preserve the bloodlines of each group.
Photo: By Just chaos – originally posted to Flickr as Paso Fino performing classic fino, CC BY 2.0 via Wiki Commons
The Iberian Horse developed on the Iberian Peninsula where the earliest domestication of horses took place. The Iberian Peninsula includes Spain and Portugal. The horses were taken to many other countries, both for political bargaining and for warfare.
In Spain the Iberian Horse is known as the Andalusian. In Portugal, it is known as the Lusitano. From the Iberian Horse, Austria developed the Lipizzan Horse.
Today, they are growing in popularity for use in dressage. They are the classic Working Equitation horse, which was developed from ranch horse work. They are famously known “Airs Above the Ground” movements, and are popular in movies as the classic medieval warhorse.
The Lusitano, also known as the Pure Blood Lusitano or PSL (Puro Sangue Lusitano), is a Portuguese horse breed, closely related to the Spanish Andalusian horse. Both are sometimes called Iberian horses, as the breeds both developed on the Iberian peninsula, and until the 1960s they were considered one breed, under the Andalusian name. Horses were known to be present on the Iberian Peninsula as far back as 20,000 BC, and by 800 BC the region was renowned for its war horses. The fame of the horses from Lusitania goes back to the Roman Age, which attributed its speed to the influence of the West wind, who was considered capable of fertilizing the mares. When the Muslims invaded Iberia in 711 AD, they brought Barb horses with them that were crossed with the native horses, developing a horse that became useful for war, dressage and bull fighting. In 1966, the Portuguese and Spanish stud books split, and the Portuguese strain of the Iberian horse was named the Lusitano, after the word Lusitania, the ancient Roman name for the region that modern Portugal roughly occupies. There are four main breed lineages within the breed today, and characteristics differ slightly between each line.
Lusitanos can be any solid color, although they are generally gray, bay or chestnut. Horses of the Alter Real strain are always bay. Members of the breed are of Baroque type, with convex facial profiles, heavy muscling, intelligent and willing natures, with agile and elevated movement. Originally bred for war, dressage and bullfighting, Lusitanos are still used today in the latter two. They have competed in several Olympics and World Equestrian Games as part of the Portuguese and Spanish dressage teams. They have also made a showing in driving competitions, with a Belgian team of Lusitanos winning multiple international titles.
Photo: By Pôle Equestre Carlos Pinto – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wiki Commons
The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE (Pura Raza Española), is a horse breed from the Iberian Peninsula, where its ancestors have lived for thousands of years. The Andalusian has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century, and its conformation has changed very little over the centuries. Throughout its history, it has been known for its prowess as a war horse, and was prized by the nobility. The breed was used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government, and kings across Europe rode and owned Spanish horses. During the 19th century, warfare, disease and crossbreeding reduced herd numbers dramatically, and despite some recovery in the late 19th century, the trend continued into the early 20th century. Exports of Andalusians from Spain were restricted until the 1960s, but the breed has since spread throughout the world, despite their low population. In 2010, there were more than 185,000 registered Andalusians worldwide.
Strongly built, and compact yet elegant, Andalusians have long, thick manes and tails. Their most common coat color is gray, although they can be found in many other colors. They are known for their intelligence, sensitivity and docility.
The Peruvian Paso breed traces its Spanish roots back over 475 years to when the conquistadors conquered the Inca Empire, including what later became recognized as the South American country of Peru. They carry the blood of the Andalusian, Barb and Spanish Jennet. By selective breeding, the distinctive gait, termino (swinging of the front legs in a swimming motion) and agreeable temperament were set into the horse that became the Peruvian Paso. The gait is a natural 4- beat lateral gait that produces the widely recognized smoothest ride which along with termino produces a spectacular, stylish action. Peruvian Pasos are used for trail riding, parades, exhibitions and shows. They come in most colors, and generally stand 14.1 to 15.2 hands. They usually weigh 850 to 1100lbs. The Peruvian Paso is also known for its brio, meaning its energy, arrogance and willingness to keep on going.
The Wine Country Peruvian Paso Horse Club was formed in 1991, is very active in Northern California and is dedicated to the preservation, promotion, enhancement and enjoyment of the Peruvian Paso horse. Activities of the Club include quarterly meetings/socials, a quarterly newsletter, trail rides, play days on horseback, seminars/clinics, parades and exhibitions.
The story of the Canadian Horse began in 1665 when King Louis XIV sent the first three shipments of horses from his royal stables of Breton and Norman ancestry to aid in settling the colonies of New France, now Quebec.
The Canadian Horse may have had royal blood, but they quickly became a horse of the people. With their compact, muscular bodies, thick winter coats, and rock-hard feet, they could outwork much bigger horses. They could pull a sleigh up to 80 miles in a day – and live on “almost anything – or almost nothing.” They were used for everything from farm work, to transport, to riding and racing. It was said that they could excel at any task they were put to. This legendary toughness earned them the nickname le petit cheval de fer: the “Little Iron Horse.” Thriving in the Canadian landscape, they were elegant, dashing, brave, strong, and rugged enough to survive in the most challenging environments.
But it is the Canadian Horse’s temperament that makes him truly special. The breed standard says that the Canadian Horse should be ‘of docile temperament, but full of vigor and spirit without being nervous.’ It is this intelligence, work ethic, and kind, calm nature that rounds out the truly admirable qualities of this exemplary breed.
Americans discovered the Canadian Horse in the 1700s, coming down through the East Coast before making their way west on the Oregon and California Trails. They were used extensively as carriage and stagecoach horses, pack and draft animals, and gained fame as trotters and pacers as the sport of harness racing, which originated on Canada’s frozen lakes, gained popularity. They were also used for crossbreeding in the United States, contributing to the Morgan, Standardbred, and many American gaited breeds.
The Canadian Horse became so popular throughout the 1800s, that thousands were exported from Canada to the United States, with many of them becoming cavalry horses for riding and pulling heavy cannons during the Civil War. So many horses were lost that by 1880 the breed was nearly extinct. By 1976, fewer than 400 horses remained. Since then, various organizations have worked to preserve the Little Iron Horse and have been successful at promoting the breed as a family horse and national treasure all across Canada. There are now an estimated 4,000 alive today, with various organizations working to keep that number growing to save the Canadian from its current “at risk” status. The breed excels at jumping, upper level dressage, working equitation, and endurance events.
California Canadians is a barn and breeding program located in Northern California dedicated to continuing and contributing to the important work of preserving and promoting this beautiful and important breed.
The Arabian originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses in the Middle East that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses have spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.
The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people, often being brought inside the family tent for shelter and protection from theft. Selective breeding for traits including an ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.
The Arabian is a versatile breed. Arabians dominate the discipline of endurance riding, and compete today in many other fields of equestrian activity. They are one of the top ten most popular horse breeds in the world. They are now found worldwide, including the United States and Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, continental Europe, South America (especially Brazil), and their land of origin, the Middle East.
The Gypsy Horse, also known as a Gypsy Vanner or Gypsy Cob, originates from the UK and Ireland. They have the appearance of a small draft type, standing generally between 13 and 16 hands in height and characterized by a “sweet” head, well-muscled, powerful build, a well-rounded hip that is commonly referred to as a “Apple Butt”, abundant mane and tail and long hair/feather on the lower legs. They possess an incredibly gentle and willing temperament making them the ideal choice for many youth and amateur riders. Gypsy horses are commonly known for their eye catching black and white tobiano coloring but they also come in a variety of colors and patterns such as appaloosa, buckskin and blue roan. They are descended from a combination of Shires, Clydesdales, Friesians, Fell and Dales Ponies with their origins in the Romany gypsy community of the UK and Ireland. These horses were originally bred by the Romany people to pull their wagons or “caravans” known as Vardos. Today, the Gypsy Horse is excelling in nearly all riding disciplines as well as driving.
The mustang is a free-roaming horse of the American west that first descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Mustangs are often referred to as wild horses, but because they are descended from once-domesticated horses, they are properly defined as feral horses. The original mustangs were Colonial Spanish horses, but many other breeds and types of horses contributed to the modern mustang, resulting in varying phenotypes. Most contain a greater genetic mixture of ranch stock and more recent breed releases, while a few are relatively unchanged from the original Iberian stock, most strongly represented in the most isolated populations.
They are bred by Mother Nature to survive in a tough desert environment. Strong, intelligent, with good bone, and very hardy, wild horses can be trained to do anything their domestic cousins do. Wild burros are gentled and often trained for livestock guardians, riding, packing, and driving. These lovable animals make wonderful companions for horses.
In 1971, the United States Congress recognized wild horses and burros as living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West, which continue to contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people.
The beauty of the Morgan horse lifts the heart. The breed exists solely because they please people. It’s their heritage.
The Morgan is easily recognized by his proud carriage, upright graceful neck, blended with soundness of limb, athleticism, and stamina. In addition, Morgan thriftiness and longevity have made this breed a good bargain for more than 200 years—easy to love and affordable to own.
The Morgan horse is free moving and calm under western tack or elegant and aristocratic when ridden in English style. A tractable temperament allows the Morgan to excel when driving in single or multiple hitches.
Companionable and comfortable on a quiet pleasure ride anywhere open skies beckon, working as a sensible partner in a long day of ranch work or endurance riding, waiting alert and ready to enter a show ring, or performing in formal riding disciplines, the Morgan is a versatile horse within a versatile breed. The Morgan horse agreeably adapts to his owner’s lifestyle. This first American breed can be found worldwide.
Reliable, loyal, tireless, and versatile, a Morgan becomes one with people with of all ages and walks of life and shares the mutual enjoyment in every equine pastime.
The Haflinger is an old breed of small horse that originated in the Tyrolean mountains of Austria. Originally the family farm horse of the peasants who resided in this region, the Haflinger was called-upon to perform reliably, capably, and cheerfully under harsh conditions. Whether the job was to plow steep fields, provide transportation in the worst winter storm, pack heavy loads or pull fallen trees, Haflingers did it all.
The attributes of the modern Haflinger are its beauty, disposition and versatility. Years of careful breeding have resulted in a small, sturdy, sure-footed horse that does well on minimal pasture, is hardy to cold weather and has a dependable, affectionate temperament.
The combination of these breed traits makes the Haflinger ultimately suitable for all equine disciplines–truly the all-around family horse. This breed is equally at home doing farm work or dressage, competitive trail riding, Pleasure driving and driving competitions, jumping, therapeutic riding or cattle work. The Haflinger is strong enough to be comfortable mount for adults.
The Haflinger’s chestnut coloring ranges from light blonde to dark chocolate, with thick white or flaxen mane and tail. They vary in height from 13 to 15 hands and weigh from 800 to 1300 lbs. Haflingers are well-muscled, with a powerful build, sturdy bone, and large hooves. The overall impression is of a breed of exceptional conformation and beauty, with a kind eye, an intelligent expression and bearing of great vitality and nobility.