Which is the first ever horse breed and why?

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 that are bred specifically to run, jump, pull carts, and even pony breeds for selective tasks.

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. It is helpful to understand how horses have evolved over time to better understand their origins, conformation, and what purposes they were bred for.

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.

It is believed that the original breeds of horses are the Icelandic, Akhal-Teke, Mongolian, Norwegian Fjord, Arabian, and Caspian. Moreover, the Caspian horse breed extends back 5,400 years.

Are There Any Extinct Horse Breeds?

Unfortunately, over time certain horse breeds have become extinct. Several have also 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.

The breed influenced many other horse breeds over the years, including Thoroughbreds. Arabian horses are distinguished by 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 smaller horse breed that competes with the Mongolian horse for the oldest horse breed in the world. This breed has been around for 5,400 years and is endemic 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 in danger of extinction, but its population is extremely limited. There were less than 1,000 remaining in the globe as of 2015.

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 multiple breeds of horses that are considered extremely rare. The Hackney, Caspian horse, Dales pony, Suffolk Punch horse, and Akhal-Teke are among them.

Parting Thoughts

Learning more about the evolution of horses and the oldest horse breeds only increases our knowledge about the equines that we love. 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:

  • 5 Best Horse Breeds for Rugged Mountain Hunting
  • Say Yes to the Horse: The 11 Best Breeds for New Horse Owners
  • Elevate Your Ride With These 6 Tall Horse Breeds
  • 4 Top Horse Breeds for Beginners that are Friendly and Fun
  • Stay Calm and Ride On: 5 Calmest Horse Breeds
  • Heavyweight Champions: The Top 5 Horses for Bigger Riders
  • What’s a Spotty Horse Called?


  • 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

  • Who bred the first horse?

    Discoveries in the context of the Botai culture had suggested that Botai settlements in the Akmola Province of Kazakhstan are the location of the earliest domestication of the horse. Horses were domesticated circa 3,000 BC in what is today Ukraine and Western Kazakhstan, according to Warmouth et al. (2012).

  • Is the Arabian horse the oldest horse breed?

    Arabian horses are one of the world’s oldest breeds. It is often considered the first domesticated horse breed and is recognized as over 5,000 years old. Arabian horses were likely used in Rome, Ancient Egypt, and Greece. They were invented by the Bedouin tribe in the Middle East.

  • What horse breed is 4500 years old?

    The Arabian horse is one of the oldest breeds in the world, dating back 4,500 years. They can be found across the globe and are one of the top 10 most popular breeds in the world. These horses are recognized for their endurance and adaptability. Arabians are fast learners and enthusiastic but willing equine mates.

  • What is the oldest known horses?

    The greatest age reliably recorded for a horse is 62 years for Old Billy (foaled 1760), bred by Edward Robinson of Woolston, Lancashire, UK. Billy died on November 27, 1822.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *