Home / USA Horses / Virginia Highlander

By Jeffery Garfield

Last updated: 5th July 2023

Virginia Highlander


Jeffery Garfield
Last updated: 5th July 2023

A relatively new breed of small horses, the Virginia Highlander was first developed in 1960 on a stud farm in Virginia. Known for their gentle nature, smooth gaits, and good conformation, the Highlander horses are now mostly found in the eastern as well as southeastern parts of United States.

Virginia Highlander Pictures

Quick Information

Temperament / Personality Calm, docile, friendly, spirited
Physical Characteristics Well-proportioned, strong, muscular body with fine, short-sized head; expressive eyes that are set wide; slightly concave or flat profile; large nostrils, flared jaw, well-set neck, short back, angular shoulders; powerful hips, short cannon bones, well-developed gaskins, strong and hard hooves
Colors Black, gray, chestnut, roan; white is rare
Height (size) 13-14 hands (132-142 cm, 52-56 inches)
Weight About 800 lbs (363 kg)
Blood Type Warm-blooded
Common Uses Used as a riding horse
Health Considered a healthy breed and no breed-specific health conditions are known up till now
Gaited Yes; single-footed and a 4-beat amble
Feeding/Diet Grass hay is a great source of carbohydrates; fresh green forage provides vitamins while alfalfa gives a fair amount of protein; grains such as corn and oats provide energy
Country of Origin USA
Ancestors Tennessee Walkers, American Saddlebreds, Arabians, Morgans, Hackney and Welsh ponies
Breed Association/Registry Virginia Highlander Horse Association

Virginia Highlander Horse Video

History and Development

In the 1960s, Virginia-based breeder, late William Pugh wanted to develop a small riding horse that would be useful for the beginners, as well as women and children. He was intrigued by the good looks, natural single-foot gaits, and the gentle nature of a chestnut stallion Pogo, a cross between an Arabian/Tennessee Walker and a Welsh pony. Therefore, he started a breeding program in his Sugar Grove stud, crossing Pogo and its offspring with other Morgans, Tennessee Walkers, Arabians, American Saddlebreds, Hackney and Welsh ponies.

The horses that met the standards for gaited ability, conformation, and disposition were used as the breeding stock. In the 1990s, the Virginia Highlander Horse Association was established to promote the breed. The foundation stock consisted of 2 stallions and 20 mares, and by June 2004, over 130 Virginia Highlanders were registered.

Interesting Facts

  • The two stallions in the foundation stock were named Pugh’s Red Cloud and Shadow of the Ridge.

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