Which breed of horses was popular in history?

Old Horse Breeds From Around the Globe

You’re undoubtedly aware that there are hundreds of horse breeds, whether you own one or just like being around them. Horses have existed for thousands of years, and several new horse breeds have been developed. There are horses designed expressly to gallop, leap, and pull carts, as well as pony breeds for specialized duties.

Horse breeds dating back thousands of years were bred in places all over the globe. In many instances, current horse breeds may trace their ancestors back to these types of horses. Understanding how horses have developed through time may help us better comprehend their origins, conformation, and the reasons for which they were produced.

The Basics of Equine Evolution

Horses have developed tremendously throughout time, and it is intriguing to study about their development. It is believed that horses have been around for 4 to 4.5 million years and originated from Pliohippus, which then led eventually to the genus Equus.

What Are the Original Breeds of Horse?

While horses developed over millions of years, there were early, or “foundation” horse breeds that inspired the horse breeds we know and love today.

Although some of these original horse breeds are incredibly ancient, several still exist today.

Icelandic, Akhal-Teke, Mongolian, Norwegian Fjord, Arabian, and Caspian horses are said to be the original breeds. Plus, the Caspian horse breed dates back as far as 5,400 years.

Are There Any Extinct Horse Breeds?

Regrettably, several horse breeds have gone extinct through time. There are also many that have been added to the endangered species list in recent years.

Some of these breeds have been extinct for thousands of years, while others have just recently been extinct.

Abaco Barb, Charentais, Ferghana, Narragansett Pacer, Navarrin, Norfolk Trotter, Old English Black, Quagga, Turkoman, and Tarpan are all extinct horse breeds.

Oldest Horse Breeds

Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic Horse is almost 1,000 years old and evolved from the ponies brought to Iceland by Norse immigrants in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Breed Facts:

  • They stand around 13 to 14 hands tall and are NOT called ponies.
  • This breed is available in a broad range of colors, including pinto variants.
  • Icelandic horses are gaited and utilized for a variety of riding activities.
  • Nowadays, there are 180,000 registered Icelandic Horses.
  • Icelandic horses are never permitted to return to Iceland.

Icelandic Horse

Icelandic. Photo Cred: Canva

Norwegian Fjord

The Norwegian Fjord is around 2,000 years old. They served as Viking war mounts and worked on farms in Norway. They may now be found all over the world.

Breed Facts:

  • They are 13.1 to 14.3 hands tall and have a drafty structure.
  • All Norwegian Fjords are dun in color
  • They are employed for a number of reasons, including cart pulling and participating in various equestrian events.
  • contests, and even in therapeutic riding facilities.
  • Nowadays, there are around 80,000 Fjord horses in the globe.

Norwegian Fjord

Norwegian Fjord. Photo Cred: Canva


The Akhal-Teke is one of the oldest horse breeds, dating back over 3,000 years. Turkmenistan is said to be the origin of this breed. These horses were created for speed and stamina since they were used for transportation.

Breed Facts:

  • The breed’s height spans from 14.2 to 16.0 hands.
  • Akhal-Teke horses are distinguished by their shiny coat color.
  • They are now utilized in endurance events, dressage, show jumping, and eventing.
  • There are presently just 6,600 horses of this breed remaining in the world.


Akhal-Teke. Photo Cred: Canva

Mongolian Horse

The Mongolian horse is one of the oldest horse breeds, dating back over 4,000 years.

Mongolian horses originated in Mongolia and may be traced back to various current horse breeds such as the Akhal-Teke, Japanese horse breeds, Icelandic horses, and many British breeds.

Breed Facts:

  • They are a short and stocky breed weighing 12 to 14 kg.
  • Mongolian horses come in a wide range of colors
  • The breed is still with the nomads on a daily basis and is now employed in racing, transportation, and even milk production.
  • Mongolia now has an estimated 3 million horses—horses outweigh people!


Mongolian. Photo Cred: Canva

Arabian Horse

Arabians are said to have existed for up to 4,000 years and may be found in numerous ancient paintings and works of art from Ancient Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

Throughout the years, the breed impacted numerous other horse breeds, especially Thoroughbreds. Visually, Arabian horses are known for their concave face and high tail carriage.

Breed Facts:

  • They are normally smaller in size and vary in height from 14.1 to 15.1 hands.
  • Arabian coat colors include bay, black, chestnut, gray, and roan.
  • Arabian horses are indigenous to the Middle East and were formerly owned by the Bedouin tribe.
  • They are well-known for their stamina and are widely utilized for endurance races as well as a wide range of other disciplines ranging from dressage to reining.
  • Nowadays, the Arabian horse is a popular and widespread breed, with an estimated one million horses in 62 nations.


Source: Canva

Caspian Horse

The Caspian horse is a minor horse breed that competes with the Mongolian horse for the title of world’s oldest horse breed. This breed dates back 5,400 years and is native to Northern Iran.

The earliest Caspian horse bones were discovered in 2011 and date back to 3,400 B.C.

Breed Facts:

  • This breed is on the smaller side, at 9.2 to 12.2 hands tall. Despite their pony-sized stature, they are proportioned like a horse
  • The coat colors of the breed include bay, chestnut, black, gray, and dun.
  • Caspian horses are gifted athletes who have competed in dressage, jumping, driving, pony racing, and mounted sports.
  • The Caspian horse is no longer endangered, although its number is exceedingly small. As of 2015, there were fewer than 1,000 left in the world

Caspian Stallion

Caspian. Photo Cred: Commons

Turkoman Horse

The Turkoman horse is originally from Turkmenistan and was also bred in Iran. Several current horse breeds, especially the Thoroughbred, have been inspired by this breed.

Breed Facts:

  • These horses were 15-16 hands tall and had an extremely slim frame.
  • Turkoman horses were available in the standard black, bay, chestnut, and bay hues.
  • They were noted for their stamina and were mostly utilized for endurance sports.
  • The Turkoman horse is now thought to be extinct

Przewalski’s Horse

This endangered horse breed lives in Mongolia and is said to be the last really wild horses. They have only ever be “semi” domesticated and are known for their shy natures.

Since they had 66 chromosomes, these horses are distant relatives of current horses. Domesticated horses now have 64 chromosomes. Przewalski’s horses may breed with domestic horses, producing hybrids that resemble Przewalski’s horses.

Breed Facts: 

  • These horses are 12-14 hands tall at the withers and weigh up to 800 pounds.
  • Przewalski’s horses have stocky, dun coats, upright manes, no forelocks, and black stripes down their backbones.
  • In Mongolian, this is known as “takhi,” which translates to “spirit.”
  • Przewalksi’s horses became extinct in the wild; currently, there are around 2,000 in reintroduction locations.

przewalski's horse

Przewalskis Horse. Photo Cred: Commons

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the oldest breed of horse?

The Caspian horse is said to be the oldest breed of horse, dating back 5,400 years.

Q: What is the rarest horse breed?

There are many horse breeds that are considered exceedingly uncommon. These include the Hackney, Caspian horse, Dales pony, Suffolk Punch horse, and the Akhal-Teke.

Parting Thoughts

Knowing more about the development of horses and the earliest horse breeds expands our understanding of the equines we adore. Today’s horses descended from the earliest horse breeds. It’s amazing to study about the evolution of horses over thousands of years!

P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:

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  • https://www.iranheritage.org/the-caspian-horse-50th-anniversary-of-its-rediscovery.html
  • https://akhal-teke.org/the-breed/breed-colors/
  • https://www.horseillustrated.com/horse-breeds-a-brief-history-of-the-arabian-horse
  • https://www.horsesoficeland.is/the-icelandic-horse
  • https://www.lifeinnorway.net/norwegian-fjord-horse/
  • https://www.museumofthehorse.org/a-look-at-the-turkoman-horse-in-iran/
  • https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/przewalskis-horse

Related Questions

  • What horse breed has the most history?

    The Akhal-Teke is one of the oldest horse breeds, dating back over 3,000 years. Turkmenistan is said to be the origin of this breed. These horses were created for speed and stamina since they were used for transportation.

  • What is the most famous type of horse?

    American Quarter Horses
    The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has registered approximately six million Quarter Horses since 1940, making them the most popular horse breed in the United States. Named for their ability to sprint short distances—such as a quarter-mile—they are both athletic and level headed.

  • What breed of horse did Native Americans ride?

    The original Native American breed is the Spanish Mustang. It descends from the horses of the Conquistadors and Native Americans, and developed on the plains of the American West, growing stronger and thriftier through natural selection.

  • What is the top 5 most popular horse breeds?

    What are the Most Popular Horse Breeds?

    1. Quarter Horse in the United States. It’s the most popular breed in the U.S. and with good reason. …
    2. Arabian. …
    3. Thoroughbred. …
    4. Warmblood. …
    5. Morgan. …
    6. Appaloosa. …
    7. Pony. …
    8. Tennessee Walker.

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