Rare Horse Breeds: 4 of the World's Rarest Horses Breeds
There are many breeds of rare horses in the world, and these rare heritage breeds are being pushed out of existence by the demands of today’s society. Farmers abandon their working farm animals, like horses, in favor of tractors and other mechanized inventions to increase productivity and supply consumer demands. Here are the stories and histories of four of the world's rare horse breeds.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Priority List
The mission of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is:
- “Ensuring the future of agriculture through genetic conservation and the promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry.”
Let's look at some heritage breeds from their Conservation Priority List (CPL) that are listed as critical:
- American Cream Draft Horses
- Cleveland Bays
- Colonial Spanish Breeds such as Spanish Colonial Mustangs
Drawing an American Cream Draft Horse
The American Cream Draft Horse
The American Cream Draft horse is the only Native American draft horse breed. They originated in 1905 with the foundational mare “Old Granny” and were recognized as a breed by the National Stallion Enrollment Board and the Iowa Department of Agriculture in 1950. “Creams” faced extinction due to the mechanization of the agricultural industry and the popularity of such farm equipment as tractors.
In 1982, C. T. Rierson and others began to revive the breed. He bought the best cream colts available and documented their pedigrees. Eventually, he helped found the American Cream Horse Association of America (the name was later changed to the American Cream Draft Horse Association). In the same year, the American Cream Horse was listed as endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
The American Cream Draft is distinguished by three traits:
- Cream color
- Amber eyes
- Pink skin
They are approximately 15.3 hands (63 inches or 1.6002 meters) and are easy to train, eager to please, and good in harness. According to the ACDHA, the numbers of these in existence is less than 400.
Habitat of Caspian Horses
Video of a Caspian Stallion
The Caspian Horse
According to the Caspian Horse Society’s website:
- “The Caspian is probably the most ancient domestic breed of horse in existence.”
This statement is borne out by the wealth of artifacts, stone drawings, and ancient writings depicting Caspian-like horses. The breed, once thought to be extinct, was rediscovered on the Caspian Sea’s shore—a remnant of approximately 50 horses—and revived by the efforts of Louise Firouz. It is listed as a critically endangered species by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and as an endangered species by the Rare Breed Survival Trust. As of 2008, there were approximately 1600 Caspians left in the world, with only about 500 of those located in the United States.
The Caspian is an excellent small breed standing about 10.2 (42 inches or 1.0668 meters) to 12.2 (50 inches or 1.27 meters) hands tall. They are excellent for jumping and driving, while their diminutive stature makes them a perfect child’s mount. Fast and agile, yet gentle-tempered and easy to ride, the Caspian has much to offer.
Video of a Cleveland Bay
The Cleveland Bay Horse
The Cleveland Bay dates to the 17th century and is Britain’s’ oldest horse breed. They were originally working animals for the monasteries and were used to haul packs of goods, and then later found a welcome place in the agricultural and transportation world hauling wagons, carts and carriages. They are listed by both the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and the RBST as critical, with less than 500 in the world and fewer than 200 in the United States.
Coats are always bay but may show color variations such as bright bay (reddish), ordinary bay, dark bay, or light bay with dark points and no white markings except a small forehead star. They stand 16 hands tall (64 inches or 1.6256 meters). They are prized for their intelligence, hardiness, and endurance, and today they are used for farm work, driving, hunting, as police mounts, or for showing.
The Spanish Colonial Mustang
The Colonial Spanish Horse
The Colonial Spanish breeds is a grouping designated by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy for horses of Spanish ancestry. In their words, “The Colonial Spanish horse is a group of closely related breeds that descend from horses brought to the Americas in the 1500’s.” Some of the commonalities of this breed are:
- Size: 13.2 hands (54 inches or 1.3716 meters) to 15 hands (60 inches or 1.52400 meters)
- Weight: 700 to 900 pounds
The Colonial Spanish breeds are typically easy-going as well as good-natured, and are used for farm work, showing and riding. They are listed as critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Why Preserving Rare American Heritage Breeds Is Important
Preserving the genetic diversity, integrity of the gene pools, and breed attributes of the world’s rare horse breeds is vital. These historic breeds are a part of the world’s agricultural culture and history.
The populations of many of these breeds is increasing, but more work needs to be done. For more information on the preservation of endangered equine species, visit your local library or the websites of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy or the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
- American Cream Draft Horse Association, http://acdha.org/history.html
- Oklahoma State University, “American Cream Draft,” http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds/horses/americancreamdraft/index.htm
- Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America (CBHSNA), “A Horse with a History,” http://www.clevelandbay.org/
- Caspian Horse Society of the Americas (CHSA,) “History of the Caspian Horse,” https://www.caspian.org/about-caspians/caspian-history.asp