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Home > General > 10 Recently Extinct Horse Breeds: Pictures, Origins & Facts

10 Recently Extinct Horse Breeds: Pictures, Origins & Facts

Two Tarpans

While there are hundreds of distinct horse breeds worldwide, many have ceased to exist over time. Some breeds died off due to human intervention, while others had their bloodlines melded into new breeds. Although they’re no longer with us, their contributions to horse breeding will not be forgotten. Here are 10 recently extinct horse breeds for you to learn about.

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The 10 Recently Extinct Horse Breeds

1. Abaco Barb

Origin: Bahamas
Date of Extinction: 2015
Height: 2 – 14.2 hands

The Abaco Barb was a feral horse breed descended from animals brought to the Bahamas by Spanish explorers. They were found in either roan or splashy pinto colors. Abaco Barb horses were gaited, similar to other breeds of Spanish origin.

Genetic testing found that these horses remained relatively unchanged for 500 years, probably because of their geographic isolation. Logging, human development, and culling of the wild herd drastically reduced their numbers since the 1960s. The last known Abaco Barb died in 2015.

2. Tarpan Horse

Origin: Europe/Russia
Date of Extinction: 1909
Height: 3 – 14.1 hands

Tarpans were a prehistoric wild horse that lived in ancient Europe and Russia. The breed was domesticated in Russia around 3,000 B.C. Cave drawings and other ancient artifacts from this period show Tarpan horses. Human development shrunk the Tarpan’s wild habitat, and farmers hunted them like wild horses in America.

The last wild Tarpan died in the late 19th or early 20th century. However, Polish researchers genetically recreated the Tarpan in 1933 using other pony and horse breeds. Only about 100 of these recreated Tarpans are in the world, but the original breed remains extinct.

3. Narragansett Pacer

Origin: United States
Date of Extinction: Early 19th century
Height: 14 hands

The Narragansett Pacer was one of the first breeds developed in America, even before the United States existed. Colonists in the New World needed a small horse that could be ridden comfortably for long distances. Few people traveled by carriage at the time, and the roads were awful.

Thanks to their pacing gait, the Narragansett Pacer was known to carry riders 40–50 miles at a time with limited wear and tear. Soon, they were the most popular breed in the colonies, owned by such historical figures as George Washington and Paul Revere. It is unknown why and exactly when the Narragansett Pacer died out. Most likely, there simply wasn’t a need for them anymore.

4. Norfolk Trotter

Origin: England
Date of Extinction: Early 20th century
Height: 14 – 16 hands

Norfolk Trotters, also called Norfolk Roadsters or Yorkshire Trotters, were a popular harness horse in England. The breed was first developed in the mid-18th century from various trotting horses dating back to the 16th century. Norfolk Trotters were an important form of transportation during 18th and 19th century England.

They could pull carts or carry riders swiftly for long distances over rough terrain. The breed died out in the early 20th century as improved travel made them unnecessary. However, Norfolk Trotters were used to develop several breeds that still exist today, including the Hackney and Standardbred.

5. Ferghana

Origin: Central Asia/China
Date of Extinction: Unknown
Height: Unknown

The Ferghana horse was an ancient breed brought to China from Daiyun, a kingdom in Central Asia. The breed was considered “heavenly” by the Chinese emperor, who sent armies to Daiyun to obtain the Ferghana for warfare around 100 B.C.

The Ferghana were believed to “sweat blood,” a trait that made them more sought after. However, scientists now believe this phenomenon was responsible for a blood-sucking parasite or skin infection.

The Ferghana was popular in China for around 1,000 years before eventually being replaced by larger breeds. The modern-day Akhal-Teke breed in Central Asia is thought to be descended from the Ferghana.

6. Charentais

Charollais Horse
Charollais (Image Credit: Comminges Marie-Aiymery (Comte de) Wikimedia Commons CC Public domain)
Origin: France
Date of Extinction: Around 1900
Height: Unknown

The Charentais was a horse breed native to western France. They were used as workhorses and later as foundation stock to breed cavalry mounts. A National Stud was established in 1780 for this purpose.

Thoroughbred horses were crossed with the Charentais to improve their performance. At the start of the 20th century, the Charentais and other French breeds were combined to develop the Selle Francais, or French Saddle Horse, which led to the older breeds’ extinction.

7. Old English Black

Old English Black Horse with Henry VI - King of England (1450) - Vintage engraved illustration
Image Credit: Hein Nouwens, Shutterstock
Origin: England
Date of Extinction: Unknown
Height: Unknown

The Old English Black was a draft horse developed in England after the Norman Conquest in 1066. Heavy horses imported from mainland Europe were crossed with native English mares to produce the Old English Black. Despite the name, these horses came in many colors, including bay, brown, and roan.

They often had white markings on their legs and faces. The Old English Black became extinct because the bloodline mixed with other breeds. Modern English draft breeds like the Shire and Clydesdale are descended from the Old English Black.

8. Navarrin

Cheval Navarrin horse
Cheval Navarrin2 (Image Credit: F. Joseph Cardini Wikimedia Commons CC Public domain)
Origin: France
Date of Extinction: 1800s
Height: 2 – 15.1 hands

The Navarrin was a French light saddle horse popular in the 18th century. The breed was used as a calvary horse and for dressage. The Navarrin was mainly bred in southwest France, in the Pyrenees.

As a lively and elegant horse, they went extinct somewhere in the 1800s, most likely because other French horse breeds absorbed their bloodline. They were also known by other names, including the Navarrois, Tarbais, and Tarbesan.

9. Quagga

Origin: South Africa
Date of Extinction: 1883
Height: 11 – 12 hands

The Quagga is a sub-species of Plains Zebra that have stripes only on the front half of their body. The back half is brown, unlike the normally black and white zebra. These animals are native to South Africa, where they were hunted to extinction by European settlers and farmers who considered them grazing competition for their herds.

The last known quagga died in a zoo in 1883. Scientists in South Africa are attempting to recreate the Quagga using related zebra species.

10. Galloway Pony

Origin: Scotland
Date of Extinction: 18th century
Height: 13 – 14 hands

Galloway ponies were sturdy and efficient travelers, able to journey long distances across harsh terrain. They were ridden by border raiders and cattle drovers. Because they weren’t very useful for farm work, Scottish breeders introduced other horses into the Galloway pony bloodline.

Over time, this crossbreeding helped eliminate the pure Galloway pony. Fell, Dale, and Highland ponies are all descendants of the Galloway. English Thoroughbreds may also contain some Galloway blood.



These 10 horse breeds may be extinct, but science provides the opportunity for some to be genetically recreated. Humans were responsible for the loss of most of these horse breeds, so it seems only fair that we try to resurrect them when we can. In addition, breeders and horse lovers are doing their part to protect endangered breeds worldwide, such as the Prezwalski’s horse.

Featured Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

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