The Rarest Horse Breeds in the World

The Rarest Horse Breeds in the World

The first horses were domesticated approximately 8000 years ago and played an important part throughout history in the development of modern civilisation. Used in battle, agriculture, transport and a variety of other activities, horses were only bred for purely recreational purposes from the 18th century onwards. Even though there are more than 350 breeds of horses in the world, some of these breeds have become rare over time owing to the fact that they were difficult to breed or didn’t present characteristics suitable for a specific purpose.

Rare horse breeds fall into two categories: critical breeds with approximately 500 specimens worldwide and threatened breeds with approximately 5,000 specimens worldwide.

The Canadian Horse

A threatened horse breed, the Canadian horse originates from a French stock of horses exported by Louis XIV to Canada and are known for their versatility. Owing to the fact that they’re fast, strong, and resistant to harsh environmental conditions, the breed was almost extinguished during the US Civil War as many Canadian horses were exported and lost their lives during battle. There are approximately 6,000 currently registered Canadian horses worldwide.

The Akhal-Teke Horse

Considered to be one of the most beautiful horse breeds in the world, the Akhal-Teke horse is a threatened breed. Originating in Turkmenistan, the Akhal-Teke has a slender frame and a unique hair structure which gives their coat a metallic shine. The breed is older than the Arabian and was bred to suit the lifestyles of nomadic tribes – who surely would’ve enjoyed River Belle Casino – that used to travel long distances across hostile terrain.

The Suffolk Punch Horse

Known for having only a chestnut shade, the Suffolk Punch horse is an English breed of draft horse which was developed in the early 16th century and has remained very similar in characteristic to its founding stock. Thanks to its heavy frame and mild temperament, the Suffolk Punch was a popular breed for farm work, but once the agricultural industry became industrialised, the Suffolk Punch became unpopular amongst breeders. There are approximately only 900 specimens of this breed left in the world.

The Shire Horse

As one of the largest breeds of draft horses, there are several Shire horses which hold world records for the tallest or largest horse. Known for their strength, having a great capacity for carrying weight, and pulling, breeding of the Shire – much like the Suffolk Punch – became unpopular after the industrialisation for the agricultural industry. As a threatened horse breed, the global population of the Shire is estimated at around 2000, but the exact number is not known.

The Newfoundland Pony

Originating in Newfoundland from a mix of English, Scottish, and Irish pony breeds brought over by settlers over the course of centuries, the Newfoundland Pony was used as a draft horse. Unfortunately, agricultural industrialisation and slaughter almost wiped out the entire population of this breed in the mid-20th century and the Newfoundland Pony was in 1997 declared a heritage breed. Now protected under the law, the world’s population is estimated at just 250 ponies, making it a critical breed.


About Doreen Cohen