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5 Oldest Horse Breeds in the World (with Pictures)
Humans and horses have a long and storied history. Before the invention of the steam engine, horses were the primary means of transport on land. Today, there are numerous horse breeds, each developed for a specific purpose.
As such, due to constant crossing, it is nearly impossible to find an untampered ancient horse breed. Nonetheless, some have withstood the test of time. Without further ado, the following are five of the oldest horse breeds in the world.
1. The Icelandic Horse
With a lineage dating back to at least 10,000 years ago, the Icelandic is widely believed to be the oldest horse breed in the world. Nonetheless, despite being fun-sized, these horses were typically used for heavy-duty purposes, such as working fields and pulling heavy loads.
This breed was also a staple in horse racing events, performing exceptionally fast, despite its smaller stature.
Icelandic horses are still working animals, with farmers using them to round up sheep. One of the main reasons for this breed existing today is the banning of crossbreeding in Iceland. What’s more, any Icelandic horse that leaves the country is not allowed to return.
2. The Caspian Horse
Also known as the Khazar horse, this breed traces its history back to Iran in 3,000 B.C. Historically, the Caspian horse was one of the most highly sought-after breeds due to its agility, bravery, and intelligence.
But for a long time, the Caspian horse was thought to be extinct until Louise Firouz – a horse breeder – rediscovered it in the 1960s. Up to her death in 2008, Louis played an integral role in increasing the Caspian’s numbers.
Measuring between 9 and 12 hands, the Caspian is a relatively small horse. Nonetheless, it is powerful and hardy. Interestingly, the Caspian is thought to be one of the Arabian horses’ founding breeds.
3. The Arabian
When talking about prestigious horse breeds, the Arabian quickly comes up. This is one of the most expensive horse breeds for a reason; it is powerful, hardy, and full of stamina.
Despite being bred to withstand harsh desert conditions, this is one gorgeous breed. The horses typically come in chestnut, black, bay, gray, or white sabino. Couple that with a graceful gait, and you have an animal that will turn heads.
The Arabian stands at an average of 14 hands and is a small horse. But it is commonly used to create some of the best horse breeds today, such as the Thoroughbred, Trakehner, and the Orlov Trotter.
4. The Fjord Horse
If looks could kill, the Fjord horse would be a deadly animal. Interestingly, it was used as a warhorse by the Vikings back in the day.
When not riding into battles, the Fjord typically spent its days in Norwegian fields doing farm work. The Fjord’s docile temperament is another reason why people love it so much. It is believed that its history dates as far back as 4,000 years ago.
5. The Akhal-Teke
Horses are some of the most majestic animals on the planet — there is no denying that. But even by horse standards, the Akhal-Teke is on a league of its own when it comes to unadulterated good looks.
But make no mistakes, the Akhal-Teke was bred for war. It was developed in Turkmenistan, where soldiers rode it to war against the Russian Empire. Nonetheless, they lost, and Russia absorbed both horse and rider. Today, this breed is renowned for its endurance.
Violets are blue, and horses are elegant. It is probably why our ancestors couldn’t help themselves but domesticate them. Nevertheless, with our love for crossbreeding, it is almost a miracle that we still have unadulterated breeds that our ancestors created among us.
Featured Image: Esteban Tieck, Pixabay
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.