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5 Swedish Horse Breeds (with Pictures)

Kristin Hitchcock

While Sweden is a relatively small place, several horse breeds have originated from Sweden. As you might expect, these horses are all somewhat similar since they originated from the same geographical area.

In this article, we’ll take a look at all the horse breeds that originate from Sweden. While there are many extinct horse breeds from Sweden, we will only look at horse breeds that still currently exist!divider-horse

1. Gotland Pony

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Credit: Kolbakova Olga, Shutterstock

The Gotland Pony is also called the Gotland Russ. It is a relatively old breed of pony that many claim descendants from Tarpans, an extinct breed of ancient horses. This ancient horse may have gotten trapped on Gotland’s small island after the last ice age, which led to the evolution of a unique breed of pony.

This is the only breed of pony that is native to Sweden. They were related to the Oland horse, which originated on a neighboring island. However, this horse breed went extinct in the early 20th century.

These horses have a very light build and low-set tail. They usually stand at around 11.1 to 12.3, though the upper end of this range is usually more sought after. Despite their small size, this pony is relatively healthy and can be ridden by small adults and children. Their hooves are excellent and hard, so they do well in challenging terrain.

Bay and mealy are the most common coat colors for this breed. However, they can also be chestnut, black, buckskin, and palomino. The only colors that aren’t acceptable are dun, grey, and pinto.

Today, Gotland ponies still range freely on the island to some extent. Some regions are protected, which allows the ponies to roam and live without interference. A small semi-feral herd lives in an enclosed area of the Lojsta Moor as well.

Often, these ponies are used mostly by riding schools, as they are famous riding ponies among children. They also excel in show jumping, harness racing, and dressage due to their easy-to-train nature.


2. North Swedish Horse

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Credit: Imfoto, Shutterstock

While this breed is relatively small, they are considered a heavy horse. They are closely related to similar breeds in Norway, such as the Dolehest.

These horses are carefully bred in modern times. All animals that intend to be bred must be thoroughly tested to ensure that they are fit for breeding. The legs and hooves are X-rayed to ensure there are no abnormalities. They are bred mostly for their temperament and fertility, though their pulling capacity matters as well.

Like many draft horses, the North Swedish horse is easy to train and quite docile. Despite their smaller size, they are powerful and robust. They are also more agile than most draft horses, mainly because of their smaller size. They are well-known for their excellent health and long lifespan, which has something to do with their strict breeding program.

This horse is usually used for harness racing today, though they are also well-suited to agricultural and forestry work. They are often used in a variety of recreational equestrian activities.


3. Scandinavian Coldblood Trotter

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Credit: Don Wright, Commons Wikimedia

This describes two different breeds of horse – the Norwegian Coldblood trotter and the Swedish Coldblood Trotter. Only one of these breeds is from Sweden. However, the breeds are so similar that they are often grouped under the larger heading of “Scandinavian.” While they are primarily considered the same breed, two different studbooks are maintained, with different country registration requirements.

This breed is created by crossbreeding lighter and more agile horses with the North Swedish horse (or the Norwegian Dolehest, if you’re discussing the Norwegian Coldblood trotter).

The average stallion stands at about 15.1 hands. However, all of them stand at least 14.2 hands. The most common color is bay. However, they can also be found in chestnut and black. Compared to other horses, this breed is relatively small. They are well-developed for the Scandinavian winters, as they develop large amounts of winter hair.

This breed is rarely found outside of Nordic countries. They are mostly used for harness racing, where they compete in shared heats.


4. Swedish Ardennes

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Credit: LuXpics, Shutterstock

The Swedish Ardennes was first bred during the late 19th century in Sweden. It is a purely practical horse and was bred to work on farmers.

This medium-sized horse is about 15.2 to 16 hands high. They weigh around 1,200 to 1,600 pounds. They are somewhat compact and very muscular. Their legs are surprisingly stout, with some loose feathering on their hooves. Usually, these horses come in black, blood bay, and chestnut.

Because of where this horse was developed, it can withstand extreme weather quite easily. These horses are easy keepers and often very easy to work with. For this reason, they are popular when farmers need a practical horse. They are very healthy as well, with a decently long lifespan.

This breed was first created by crossing Ardennes horses with the North Swedish horse. This was often done by importing the Ardennes horses. This improved the Swedish horse’s size and strength while still allowing it to withstand harsher temperatures. The studbook was first created in 1901.

Today, the Swedish Ardennes is a famous cart horse, though their original farm jobs have been mainly mechanized today. They are still used for hauling timber in areas that are inaccessible to machinery. This horse still makes up a large part of the Swedish horse population.


5. Swedish Warmblood

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Credit: Rolf_52, Shutterstock

This horse breed was developed in Sweden. However, it descends from imported horses during the 17th century – not from native horses. The horses imported during this time were extraordinarily varied and came from many countries. They were likely crossbreed in a haphazard manner until an entirely new breed was developed.

This is the only Swedish horse that originates from imported horses. While this horse got its start in the 17th century, it was only in the 1920s that it became heavily developed.

Today, the horse is most used as a riding horse. It has comfortable, straight paces, which make it extremely easy to ride. They are rather handsome and extremely versatile. These horses are also good driving horses and are exported around the world.

Technically, these horses can be any solid color. However, any stallion with a specific color associated with health problems may not receive breeding approval. Mostly, these horses are chestnut, bay, and brown. They are usually not real blacks, though they can appear to be. They may also be gray and roan, though these are rare as well.

This horse usually stands at around 16 to 17 hands, making it one of the tallest breeds on this list.


Featured image credit: nilsgh, Pixabay

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!