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Rare, Unusual, and Beautiful Horse Breeds

What Makes a Horse 'Unusual'

Horses come in a variety of breeds, sizes, colours and personalities. Some breeds are renowned as hard workers or gentle giants, like the Shire horse, whereas others are famous for their dazzling colours (like the Akhal Teke - also known as "the golden horses"), or their indisputably weird (albeit sweet) appearance, such as that of the Bashkir Curlys. So what makes some horse breeds stick out from the crowd as 'unusual' breeds?

'Unusual' can refer to a breed that is rare to the point that it is on the verge of extinction, or it can merely be referring to a particularly strange-looking physical appearance or striking feature of a breed. When making this list I have taken both these things into account, but also other factors such as gaits, size and colours of the horse.

For me, these beautiful animals are simply one of nature's best designs - powerful, graceful and capable of befriending humans. I have ridden horses since I was five, and every time that I ride to this day I feel so free and so safe that I feel very strongly that horse riding is something that I would now like to pass on to my own children. It truly is a wonderful feeling.

Bashkir Curly
Bashkir Curly

Bashkir Curly

When I showed a photo of a Bashkir Curly to my friend, she announced that it was actually a sheep pretending to be a horse. This really made me giggle and you can see why she would think that... In fact I'm pretty sure there are many people who would agree with her, but the Bashkir Curly is, indeed, a horse breed... And one of my favourite ones at that. They are renowned for their friendly, calm and intelligent personalities as well as their distinctive curly coat and kinked mane and tail. These horses are the only hypoallergenic breed of horse, and are excellent horses for beginners and children given their sweet, patient, easily-trained and reliable nature and the fact that they seem to actively seek out and enjoy the companionship of people.

I have only ever met two of these wonderful creatures at a special horse show when I was on holiday in the South of France near the Dordogne. They were getting a lot of fuss as you can imagine, and the first thing (actually second after their curly fur), was how utterly gentle and sweet they were. One was gently nuzzling a young girl who must have only been four or five and the other was enjoying a pat on the nose from another kind stranger passing by. They genuinely looked like they were rather enjoying the whole thing!

Marwari
Marwari

Marwari

The Marwari horse originated from India and are well known for their inward-facing ears. This horse has a natural ambling gait and comes in a wide range of colours, but seemingly pinto is the most common and the most popular with breeders. Marwari horses were bred extremely selectively, which resulted in a horse exhibiting incredible hardiness. They typically stand from 15-16 hands, so are considered a medium sized horse.

This breed was close to the point of extinction in 1930, but fortunately due to popular demand, the numbers of the breed have increased once again, which I for one am extremely happy about - I used to ride a Marwari horse at HMS Dryad where I learned to ride. He was a tall, handsome gelding with an extremely fancy name (though I've completely forgotten what it was! Oops!) He always had this wonderful energy, but equally seemed to know that the young rider on his back was in need of a good, calm horse - which is exactly what he was. When he galloped the speed he could go at was incredible, leaving me and the other spectators speechless.

Miniature
Miniature

Miniature Horses

Miniature horses have become one of the controversial breeds in recent years and although many equine-enthusiasts feel that breeding miniature versions of horse breeds is exploitation and cruelty; for me personally, I think that providing they are well cared for and still treated like equines and NOT teacup dogs or cats then there isn't a problem. I believe that the point at which it is cruel is when humans use animals for breeding which are unwell or have physical abnormalities which get in the way of their health and therefore happiness. Take the pug dig, for instance. A dog considered "cute" by huge numbers of people. But they have such difficulty breathing and keeping themselves cool because of their facial structures. To me that is far more cruel than simply selectively breeding smaller horses.

Gypsy Vanner
Gypsy Vanner

Gypsy Vanner

Gypsy Vanners, also known as Gypsy Cob Horses, are possibly my favourite of all breeds and I'm delighted that they have finally been accepted as a breed in their own right. They typically measure 13-16 hands, which makes them a wonderful size for children. Again, this is how I first encountered these gorgeous animals and once more it was whilst on holiday, in Spain. I saw a young man who was making his living from his three horses (all Gypsy Vanners), and he would take tourists out on hacks through mountainous regions. The three horses were piebald with abundant leg feathering from the knee down to their hooves. Their mane, feathers and tail were straight and their bodies amazingly powerful and strong. He told me that the breed originally came about due to the Romanichal people of Great Britain and were used as work horses, pulling their vardoes, in which the people lived; hence their name Gypsy Vanners. Although they have incredible muscle, the horses were docile, friendly and calm and I think they would make excellent family pets.

I still hope to own some of these creatures one day. Oh and also I would just like to add - the horses were EXTREMELY well cared for. There is nothing worse than going on holiday and paying someone money to continue to fail to meet basic health standards for their animals. You see it everywhere - over worked donkeys and horses who aren't given enough water and never see dentists or farriers to attend to their overgrown hooves. It makes me sick and I want to take this opportunity to say if you see an animal being offered up for tourist pony or donkey rides when they aren't in good condition, REPORT IT! The abuse will never stop unless a stand is taken.

Akhal Teke
Akhal Teke

Akhal Teke

The Akhal Teke has been dubbed the “world’s most beautiful horse,” though this is highly disputed due to the vast number of horse breed enthusiasts. It has an almost ethereal look about it, and the way it’s coat grows, gives it a metallic sheen – which is especially true for those who have the sought-after ‘golden’ coat. Experts believe this was down to a natural sort of camouflage as they originated from Turkmenistan, where they became the national emblem. They have also been nick-named “the greyhounds of the horse-world” for their unbelievable agility. Sadly, no true Akhal Teke horses exist now without some thoroughbred horse DNA also, due to extensive cross-breeding to create a horse with incredible stamina, speed and intelligence. They range from around 14-16 hands.

Fjord
Fjord

Fjord

The Fjord horse originated from Norway and bears a striking resemblance to Przwalski wild horses. They generally are dun in colour, with a short, erect mane which has a naturally-occurring black stripe down the centre. Their manes are hogged so that the black mane hairs stand taller than the others. If left, the mane would of course grow, but it is kept this way for the breed’s standards. The Fjord horses were used by the Vikings, and were pitted against one another for the ‘sport’ of horse fighting, sometimes fighting to the death.

Knabstrup
Knabstrup

Knabstrupper

The Knabstrupper – sometimes called ‘Knabstrup’ horses are very similar to the more commonly heard of Appaloosa horse. They are a Danish breed which are famous for their ‘dalmatian’ or ‘leopard spot’ appearance. They measure anywhere between 15-16 hands but some also are pony sized, measuring less than 14.2 hands. Their unusual coloration is caused by a genetic mechanism known as the leopard complex. These horses do exceedingly well in dressage and show jumping as well as being good for general riding.

Appaloosa
Appaloosa

Appaloosa

The Appaloosa, as previously mentioned, is associated with the Knabstrupper, however, the leopard spotted look can be all over the horses entire body, or may only cover one small area, such as the back. Other physical features are mottled skin, White sclera (the part of the eye surrounding the iris), and always striped hooves. They can weigh up to 1250lbs and measure around 14-16 hands. Several different breeds were used to create this breed, including the Spanish and Warmblood horse, and so there can be many different body types for this breed.

Paint
Paint

Paint

I absolutely adore these horses. Not only are they well known for their utterly gorgeous coats, they also combine the physical characteristics of a Western Stock horse with a pinto spotted pattern, and although the breed is generally white and black or white and chestnut, there are a huge variety of accepted colors for this horse. I think that these horses have incredible beauty - especially about the face, head and neck and all the ones I have ever met have been friendly, docile and easily trained horses that were superb riding horses for children.

They originated from America and are becoming increasingly popular as a breed, not only for their looks, but also due to their intelligence and the fact that they seem to love being with people. Personally, I'm glad they are so popular - I don't think they have a bad bone in their bodies!

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Watch This Akhal Teke Stallion With His Owner

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I'd love to know your favourite breeds 29 comments

junecampbell profile image

junecampbell 2 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

I have never heard of these unusual breeds. It is very interesting. I am most fond of the big, heavy horses personally. There is just something about them.


SamiMartel 2 years ago

Loved reading your post - I have two rare horses - Lipizzaner. There are approximately 3,000 left in the world and although everyone knows the "Dancing white horses from Vienna" few realize that they are considered endangered. I am very lucky to own two beautiful girls - Wandosa (in my profile picture here) and Tucsok. Wandosa was born in the U.S., but Tucsok was born at the State Stud in Austria (Piber). Her father, and grandfather both performed with the Spanish Riding School and her 1/2 brother is there now. Hope you will continue to post info on rare breeds. All the best!


tazzytamar profile image

tazzytamar 2 years ago from chichester Author

@SamiMartel: Wow they are absolutely beautiful! I'll make my next article about this breed in honour of your ladies :) just been reading about Lippizzaners and they're beautiful creatures with a fascinating history. I didn't realise they were so critically rare too - they're very lucky to have you too, there are way too many people who own horses but don't know how to care for them properly! Thanks for reading :)


VioletteRose LM profile image

VioletteRose LM 2 years ago

Interesting, I have never seen horses like that shown in the first picture in introduction. Thanks for sharing!


tazzytamar profile image

tazzytamar 2 years ago from chichester Author

Thank you VioletteRose, they are the Knabstrupper horses - I love them!


marktplaatsshop profile image

marktplaatsshop 2 years ago

I never heard about Marwari horses, but love to own one it is a real beauty, but all animals are beautiful, thanks for sharing this special lens I will be back and show it to my daughter.


tazzytamar profile image

tazzytamar 2 years ago from chichester Author

@marktplaatsshop: Oh great I'm so pleased you like it :) you're lenses are fab by the way - you're very talented! Hope you're daughter enjoys the lens - all the best!


favored profile image

favored 2 years ago from USA

Enjoyed reading about these unique horses. I would love to see one of them in person. Looking forward to more of your articles.


TanoCalvenoa 2 years ago

I love the intro photo. They look like dalmatians.


takkhisa profile image

takkhisa 2 years ago

These are really unusual horse breeds! Thanks for sharing :)


happynutritionist 2 years ago

Years ago for a few years I owned an Appaloosa, I love horses, but don't have the land for one, or the extra money required to board one. Beautiful animals though.


DeborahDian profile image

DeborahDian 2 years ago from Orange County, California

Fascinating info about these breeds of horses!


Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye Rutledge 2 years ago from Concord VA

My granddaughter loves horses and collects Breyer. Nice lens. :)


norma-holt profile image

norma-holt 2 years ago

Nice lens and great subject. It would be great if you could add pictures of the different types of horses as you describe them and break up the text into different modules. I would also put this comment box at the end as assumes there is no more to read.Just a few suggestions to make the lens better. Welcome to Squidoo and keep up the writing. Well done.


WriterJanis2 profile image

WriterJanis2 2 years ago

I'm very curious as to what Gypsy Vanners look like after learning about them here.


MarcellaCarlton 2 years ago

They are each so beautiful. I think I like the Paint the best though. Nice Job!


choosehappy profile image

choosehappy 2 years ago from US

Just beautiful!


sheilamarie78 profile image

sheilamarie78 2 years ago

These are amazingly beautiful. I've never seen many of them before. That metallic looking one and the curly one will stay in my mind all day.


sheilamarie78 profile image

sheilamarie78 2 years ago

These are amazingly beautiful. I've never seen many of them before. That metallic looking one and the curly one will stay in my mind all day.


kathysart profile image

kathysart 2 years ago

I LOVE the Gypsy Vanner. Horses are so majestic. Lovely lens.


delia-delia profile image

delia-delia 2 years ago

Some of my favorite horses shown here...love Akhal Teke and the Gypsy Vanner...I have a lens on the horses I owned, but none unusual outside of the fact personality wise.


DANCING COWGIRL profile image

DANCING COWGIRL 2 years ago from Texas

Unique and beautiful at the same time. I love all kinds of horses.


aminebombom profile image

aminebombom 2 years ago from Doha, Qatar

the pony horses are cute, specially at the circus when they perform some great shows.

thanks for the info


Richard1988 profile image

Richard1988 2 years ago from Hampshire - England

Wow some of these are really wacky, love the woolly one!


sukkran trichy profile image

sukkran trichy 2 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

interesting information about several horse breeds. i love knabstrupper variety. looks great!


topclimb lm profile image

topclimb lm 2 years ago

I passed this lens on to my wife. She loves them and used to ride a lot in her youth.


TolovajWordsmith profile image

TolovajWordsmith 2 years ago from Ljubljana

We are pretty proud of or Lipicanec (Lipizaner), a breed of white horses. You presented several unusual ones I never heard of. Fascinated!


ajgodinho profile image

ajgodinho 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Wow, I've never come across many of these breeds, so I learned a lot more about horses through this lens. Horses are indeed beautiful creatures and so versatile. I think I rode a horse just once, but i truly enjoyed it.


flinnie lm profile image

flinnie lm 2 years ago from Alabama USA

These are all very beautiful horse breeds. I have never seen most of them, thanks for sharing.

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    tazzytamar profile image

    Anna (tazzytamar)56 Followers
    85 Articles

    Anna has studied psychology, law, English and animal welfare at college. She is a mother of two and aspires to become a vet some day.



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