Aztec Horse: Breed Profile

Versatile, noble, smooth and delightful, the Azteca now excels in countless disciplines. You might find this horse dressage, exploring trails, or hard at work on the cattle ranch. This sporty breed is sensible, hardy, and agile, and although it once came from Mexico, this breed is also popular with American riders.

The History and Origins of the Aztec Horse

The Aztecs were originally bred in Mexico in 1972. The breed was intended to be a mount for the Mexican cavalry, known as charros. Breeders are looking for a horse that is agile, fast and has the cow feel needed to work on a local ranch. Breeders spanned Andalusia, Quarter Horse and Crioros to create the breed’s base line. In 1982, the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture recognized the variety. In 1992, the Mexican Association for the International Registry of the Breed was established. The Aztecs became the official national horse of Mexico.

In addition to these Mexican-bred horses, a subtype of the breed called the American Aztec emerged. The American Aztec Horse International Association was established in 1999. In the United States, Aztecs may include paint and quarter horse ancestry. Any horse with a purebred influence and making up more than a quarter of its pedigree is not allowed to register. To be registered in the Mexican pedigree register, horses must be of solid color fur and must be inspected prior to registration.

Aztec horse size

The Aztecs were compact but mighty horses. Stallions and geldings tend to be between 15 and 16.1 hands in height, while mares are slightly smaller, averaging 14.3 to 16 hands. These horses typically weigh between 1,000 and 1,200 pounds and are well muscled.

Breeding and Use

Aztecs today are still bred for their original purpose – pasture work – but this versatile breed also excels in many disciplines. Premium Aztec horses have an excellent bovine feel, making them talented workhorses. They also ride English and Western. These horses can do just about anything, including jumping, driving, fencing, dressage, cross-country riding, and more. They are sporty, agile and smart, making them the mounts of choice for many riders who race, enjoy riding, or seek a work mount to work with.

colors and markings

Aztec horses come in all solid coat colors, but gray horses are especially common. The Mexican Aztec Breed Association allows white markings on the face and calves, but not on the body. Aztec horses of Banto color can only be registered with the American Aztec Horse International Association.

Unique Characteristics of Aztec Horses

The most unique feature of this breed is its versatility. It’s hard to find a horse that excels in so many different disciplines and activities as the Aztecs. The cow-feeling that this breed exhibits makes it a prized mount for working pastures, but the breed’s robustness, strength and agility mean it can also easily cross disciplines. It is entirely possible to think that the Aztecs could learn to raise cattle on pastures, compete in Western dressage competitions, and compete in jumping competitions.

Diet and Nutrition

Aztecs would benefit from a diet consisting of high-quality forages – hay and/or grasses – often fortified with grains or ration balancers. These horses are generally energetic, so they need enough calories to support their athleticism and energy levels. Keep in mind that these are generalizations and some may be easy to keep, while others may require careful dietary adjustments to help maintain physical condition.

Common Health and Behavioral Issues

These horses are usually very intelligent and they make great companions. They have a hotter temperament and may have higher stamina, so they are not always suitable for younger riders or those looking for a calmer mount. With steady, consistent training and work, the Azteca can be the ideal partner for riders looking for an active, sporty mount.


Aztecs did not have any specific grooming needs, but they would benefit from the same grooming and attention as any other breed of horse. Regular curry can help stimulate blood circulation, increase muscle tone, and even enhance the shine of your coat. Many Aztec owners allowed the horse’s mane to fully grow, so regular brushing and conditioning helps keep the hair tangle-free and in good condition. Horses with extremely long or thick manes may benefit from regular braiding, which helps keep them clean while out and about.

Attentive hoof care is also important; although these horses are hardy, keeping their hooves trimmed and troubled can help them stay healthy.


  • Great natural cow feel

  • multiple usage

  • clever

Champions and Celebrities Aztec Horses

Because Aztec horses are relatively uncommon in the United States, there have been no examples of champions or celebrities to date.

Is Aztec Horse Right for You?

The versatility and beefy feel of the Azteca means it’s perfect for many different riders. Since the breed tends to be a little high-energy and even opinionated, these horses are generally not suitable for young or inexperienced owners. Confident, experienced owners are usually a better fit if they are looking for a horse with a lot of talent. If you need a horse on a ranch that can raise cattle and work from home, the Azteca is naturally a good choice. If you also have dreams of competition, trail riding or venturing into multiple disciplines, the versatility of this breed may make it an ideal choice.

How to Adopt or Buy an Aztec Horse

Aztec horses are still somewhat uncommon in the United States, so be prepared to do some searching if you want to add one of these horses to your barn. They range in price from a few thousand dollars for foals and yearlings to $10,000 or more for well-trained horses. Be sure to include shipping and shipping costs in your horse buying budget, as the horse you find may be out of several states.

Because the breed is relatively rare in the United States, it is not common to find Aztecs available for adoption through rescues. If you want to experience the breed for yourself, it’s best to find a breeder or ranch that specializes in raising these horses.

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