Horses are these majestic creatures that have been around since forever. Their existence can be traced back thousands of years to ancient civilizations. Today, these same horses that were present when history was being made are facing extinction, which makes even a sighting of them extremely rare. Despite conservation efforts, we’ll likely never even catch a glimpse of some of these endangered species before they’re wiped out. Let’s get started!
The Akhal-Teke horse is one of the rarest and most beautiful horse breeds in the world. Its metallic-like shine fur almost gives it the appearance of a golden or bronze statue. It’s even known as “the Golden Horse” in Turkmenistan, where the breed is their national horse.
Akhal-Teke was originally used by nomadic tribes to cross long distances after the desertification of Central Asia. Inbreeding within the population already threatens its endangered status. There are currently about 6,600 Akhal-Tekes left in the world, mostly in Russia, although they are also found throughout Europe and North America.
9. Canadian Horse
Every year, only 150-500 new Canadian Horses are registered, and there are only around 6,000 worldwide. This resilient breed was nearly wiped out during the U.S. Civil War because they were used too much in combat, but their origins can be traced back over 350 years ago when King Louis XIV of France sent a ship full of horses to New France in 1665. The different breeds on that ship made what is known as the Canadian horse today.
Now, you’ll find them employed as the national horse of Canada and mostly used for racing and showjumping.
The Caspian is believed to be the oldest horse breed in the world. We can trace its history back to 3,000 BCE in Iran. Royalty would employ the Caspian, and there are many artifacts that prove it, including the Gold Oxus Treasure of Darabgird, the tri-lingual seal of King Darius the Great, and the staircase frieze at the Palace of Persepolis.
That ancient Persian horse was thought to have already gone extinct, but now it’s believed that the modern Caspain is their direct descendant. You’ll find that there are about 2,000 Caspians left.
7. The Shire Horse
With less than 2,000 of them left in the world, the Shire Horse is a rare sight. Despite its name, the Shire Horse has nothing to do with hobbits and rings, but they are a native-English draft horse whose origins can be traced to the Great Horse or War Horse of medieval England.
Distinguishable by their strength, these colossal horses were used for agriculture, hauling, and for war. They were then bred with Dutch Friesians and Flemish stallions. The modern Shire Horse breed that you see today was established by a livestock breeder named Robert Bakewell in 1790.
The popularity of the Shire Horse hit its peak during WW I, but it wasn’t so lucky after WWII. The only reason the breed survived was because of how beautiful it is. They were used in promotions and advertisements.
6. Cleveland Bay
The Critically endangered Cleveland Bay’s numbers are less than 900 worldwide. The “Cleveland” in its name refers to the Cleveland area of England, not Cleveland, Ohio, US. And it’s thought to be the oldest horse breed from Britain.
The church played a large role in its breeding as it was used for trading goods between Monasteries and Abbeys. After a rise in popularity as they were used as driving horses, the industrial revolution and the rise of the automobile threatened its existence as very few breeders continued to produce purebred Cleveland Bays.
5. Dales Pony
The lead mining industry made use of the Dales Pony, then in the 18th century, they were used to pull stagecoaches and deliver mail. During WWI and WWII, they were drafted into the British Army to carry weapons.
Now that they’re not needed to work in so many industries, they’re near being wiped out. The Dales Pony, despite retaining royal status as it’s the result of breeding the strongest, largest, and most Scotch Galloways with native herds, has a global population of less than 800.
4. Exmoor Ponies
This is one of the most ancient horse breeds in northern Europe. Native to Exmoor, the Exmoor Pony is believed to be genetically different from the rest of the other horse breeds as they have a close morphological resemblance to the primitive wild horse.
Throughout history, the Exmoor Pony has been used in harrowing, plowing, taking goods to the market and church, and of course, riding. Archeoligists have found evidence of Exmoor Ponies being used for transport in the southwest of England as early as 400 BC. Today, most Exmoor Ponies exist in England while a few roam half-feral, and they’re far from being a thriving species with fewer than 800 of them in the world.
3. American Cream Draft
The only draft horse to originate in the U.S., the American Cream Draft’s roots can be traced back to Iowa in the 1900s to one odd horse named Old Granny. Old Granny was a cream-color draft mare of mysterious origin, and she consistently produced cream-colored offspring. It wasn’t until a stallion by the name of Silver Lace was born in 1932 that breeders became interested in this cream-colored bloodline.
Because the bloodline is so limited, the American Cream Draft has always been a rare breed, and add the fact that farming started to become mechanized in the mid-20th century with the need for draft horses decreasing– all of this led to there being fewer than 400 American Cream Drafts registered.
2. Newfoundland Pony
Only 250 of the 400 Newfoundland Ponies left in the world are able to breed, so they’re one of the most dangerously endangered horse breeds.
They come from Newfoundland, Canada, and their roots stem from the mountain and moorland ponies that were brought over by European settlers. Their ancestors include British horses such as the Exmoor, New Forest, and Dartmoor ponies, and they also comes from the same lineage as the extinct Galloway, Highland, and Welsh Mountain ponies.
Descended from the Iberian horse Christopher Columbus and Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes brought to the New World, the majestic Galiceño is known for its untiring ability to cross long distances, its high energy levels, and superior stamina.
The breed is also known for being the current rarest breed in existence.
There are fewer than 100 pure Galiceño left. And from what it looks like, the breed doesn’t have much time left. Most of the remaining Galiceño aren’t in breeding condition.
And that’s a wrap for the top ten rarest horse breeds in the world! What did you think of these rare breeds?
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