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What is The Oldest Horse Breed

What is The Oldest Horse Breed

Imagine galloping back through time, where the echoes of hooves whisper the tales of ancient civilizations. In this journey, we’re on a quest to uncover a mystery that has fascinated horse lovers and historians alike.

What is the oldest horse breed that has trotted alongside humans through the sands of time? The story of the oldest horse breed isn’t just a tale of survival and elegance. It’s a saga that weaves through the very fabric of human history, revealing the bond between man and horse. 

This isn’t just a question of lineage or pedigree; it’s a window into the soul of humanity’s most loyal companion. So, saddle up as we embark on this journey.

The Concept of Horse Breeds

When we talk about horse breeds, we’re diving into a world rich with variety and history. Think of a horse breed as a family line, each with its own set of traits that makes it unique. These traits aren’t just about looks.

Horse breeds have been shaped by humans for centuries. They are tailored to meet different needs—whether that’s racing across a desert, pulling a heavy load, or dancing in a dressage competition.

Now, imagine a giant family tree, but instead of people, it’s all horses. At each branch, you have different breeds emerging, influenced by everything from the climates they lived in to the jobs they were bred to do. 

Over time, these breeding choices began to solidify, turning into the horse breeds we recognize today.

Breeding horses is like painting with genetics, mixing and matching to highlight certain features while dialing down others. And just like art, breeding horses is a blend of science, luck, and a dash of magic. 

The result? A tapestry of horse breeds that spans the globe, each with its own story. So, when we talk about horse breeds, we’re not just talking about animals. 

We’re talking about the living, breathing result of centuries of human history, culture, and innovation.

What is the Oldest Horse Breed? 

In the heart of ancient history, you’ll find the Caspian horse galloping through time. This little powerhouse, often overlooked, holds a title many are unaware of.

It’s one of the oldest horse breeds we know of. Imagine a horse so ancient, its hoofprints can be found alongside the earliest chapters of human civilization.

The Caspian horse is like a time capsule on four legs. Small, yes, but don’t let its size fool you. 

These horses were the Ferraris of the ancient world: sleek, speedy, and with a heart for adventure. They come from a place where history is as rich and deep as the sea they’re named after, the Caspian Sea.

Rediscovered in the 20th century, the Caspian horse was almost lost to the sands of time. What’s fascinating is how this breed links us directly to the past. 

So, when we talk about the oldest horse breed, the Caspian horse steps quietly forward. They remind us that sometimes, the greatest stories come in the smallest packages.

Other Old Horse Breeds

1. Mongolian

The Mongolian Horse is a symbol of endurance and resilience. Standing at about 12-14 hands tall, this horse originated from the vast steppes of Mongolia.

They are hardy and able to withstand the country’s extreme temperatures. They come in various colors and have been central to Mongolian nomadic culture for centuries.

They are also considered to be the descendants of Genghis Khan’s legendary mounts. These horses are not just animals. They’re integral to the Mongolian way of life, assisting with herding and transport

2. Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic Horse is a unique breed that combines strength with charm. Standing roughly 13-14 hands high, these horses are renowned for their five gaits, especially the smooth tölt. 

They hail from Iceland, where their ancestors were brought by Viking settlers over a thousand years ago. With a variety of coat colors, they’re as beautiful as the Icelandic landscapes they roam. 

Despite their small size, they’re incredibly durable and sure-footed. The Icelandic Horse is more than a breed; it’s a national treasure, deeply woven into the fabric of Icelandic history and culture.

3. Arabian

The Arabian horse, a breed that dances between elegance and endurance, hails from the Arabian Peninsula. With a history tracing back over 4,500, they stand around 14.1 to 15.1 hands high.

They come in a variety of colors, including bay, gray, chestnut, and black. Arabians are not just beautiful. They’re also incredibly versatile, excelling in endurance riding and many other disciplines. 

They’ve got a reputation for intelligence and a close bond with humans, making them one of the most beloved horse breeds around the globe.

4. Fjord

The Fjord horse, from Norway, is as sturdy as they come, dating back to the last ice age. They stand around 13-14 hands tall, known for their striking dun coats and distinctive black stripe running down the center of their mane. 

Fjords are workhorses, used in farming and therapy, known for their calm and friendly temperament. Their look hasn’t changed much over thousands of years, making them a living piece of history.

5. Akhal-Teke

Hailing from Turkmenistan, the Akhal-Teke is a vision in gold, standing tall at 14-16 hands. Their metallic sheen, in colors like gold, black, and chestnut, alongside their slender, athletic build, makes them stand out.

Known as the “golden horses,” they’re one of the oldest and rarest breeds, developed for endurance and speed. They’ve been around for more than 3,000 years.

Read also: Black Horse Breeds

6. Przewalski’s Horse

Przewalski’s horse, the only true wild horse left, is not tall, about 12-14 hands, but what it lacks in height, it makes up for in toughness. Originating from the steppes of Central Asia, these horses are dun-colored with dark manes. 

They were considered extinct in the wild but have been successfully reintroduced. Unlike other breeds, Przewalski’s horses have never been domesticated.

7. Turkoman

The Turkoman Horse is a legend from the past. It comes from lands like Turkmenistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. This horse was known for its speed and stamina, especially over long distances. 

They were tall, about 15-16 hands, and had a coat that sparkled in the sun. Gold, red, and chestnut were their colors. 

The Turkoman helped create today’s Thoroughbred, giving them their speed and strong heart. Even though we can’t find them anymore, their influence sticks around. They’ve been part of history for centuries, leaving their mark since the 10th century.

8. Eriksay Pony

Meet the Eriskay Pony, a little survivor from Scotland. Standing just 12-13 hands tall, these ponies are tough. They come in grey, bay, and black. 

Living on the Scottish islands, they’ve been around for a long time, adapting to harsh lands. These ponies are smart, friendly, and good at many tasks. 

They’re rare but have been part of Scottish life for centuries, with roots tracing back to the Viking Age. Efforts to save them have kept their ancient line going strong.

9. Asturcon Pony

The Asturcon Pony, native to the Asturias region in Spain, is a small but mighty breed, standing about 11.2 to 12.2 hands tall. Mostly found in bay or black, these ponies have a history that goes back over 3,000 years. 

They were once thought magical by local tribes. Despite their size, Asturcons are known for their strength and agility, often celebrated in local festivals.

10. Exmoor Pony

Exmoor Ponies are like walking history books. They live in Britain’s Exmoor National Park. Small but sturdy, they stand about 11 to 12 hands tall. Their coat is a dark bay or brown. 

What’s special is their “mealy” nose, a lighter color around it. They’ve been around since before history was written down, surviving since the Ice Age. That’s thousands of years, making them one of the oldest breeds we know. 

11. Garrane Pony

Garrane Ponies hail from Ireland. They’re a bit like the Exmoor, tough and able to handle rough terrain. Standing about 12 to 14 hands, they often come in shades of bay and grey. 

These ponies have been part of Irish life for centuries, with evidence of their existence going back to the Iron Age. That’s over 2,500 years of history. They were once the go-to for farming and transport across Ireland’s rugged landscapes.

12. Cleveland Bay Horse

The Cleveland Bay is Britain’s oldest horse breed, known for its strength and beauty. They’re big horses, standing about 16 to 17 hands tall, with a rich bay coat. No other colors here, just a shiny bay. 

They started out in the 17th century, making them over 400 years old. Originally from the Cleveland area of England, they were the engine of the day, pulling carriages and doing farm work. 

Now, they’re rare but still admired for their versatility and calm nature.

13. American Quarter Horse

The American Quarter Horse is all about speed. They’re named for the quarter-mile races they excel at. With a height of about 14 to 16 hands, they come in all sorts of colors. 

This breed started in the 1600s, when English and Spanish horses mixed in the new American colonies. That’s around 400 years of history. 

They’re known for being quick, agile, and friendly. Today, they’re one of the most popular breeds in the U.S., famous for racing, rodeo, and as a great family horse.

How Come there are so Many Horse Breed Varieties?

Why so many horse breeds, you ask? Well, it’s all about people and places. Think about it. 

Horses have been our buddies for thousands of years. From cold mountains to hot deserts, humans have lived in all sorts of spots on the earth. And we needed our horse friends to fit into these different lifestyles.

So, we started mixing and matching horses. We bred horses that could carry knights in heavy armor. 

We needed fast horses for racing across deserts. Some horses were bred to pull heavy loads, while others were for riding comfortably over long distances.

Each place had its own needs. Like, in cold places, you’d want a tough horse with a thick coat. In hot spots, a lean horse that doesn’t overheat is better.

Over time, these breeding choices made the horse breeds we know today. Each one is like a custom design, made for specific jobs in specific places. That’s why there are so many varieties. 

It’s all about humans teaming up with horses, making the perfect partner for whatever challenge they faced.


We’ve discovered that the quest for the oldest horse breed is much more than a single answer. It’s a story woven through time and across lands. 

From the shimmering coats of the Akhal-Teke to the enduring spirit of the Arabian, each breed carries a piece of our shared past. 

These horses are not just animals. They’re living history, reminders of our ancestors’ journeys and our enduring partnership.

So, next time you marvel at a horse, remember—you’re looking at a living, breathing piece of history.

Picture of Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq

Dr. Noman Tariq, a seasoned veterinarian with a DVM from ARID University and an MPhil in Animal Nutrition from UVAS, specializes in equine health. His deep passion for horse nutrition and well-being drives his work, offering invaluable advice for horse owners. Dr. Tariq's expertise ensures horses lead vibrant, healthy lives.
You can read my full bio here

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What is The Oldest Horse Breed