One of the great things about horses is the fact that there are just so many different breeds to appreciate. Horse people can go from obsessing over speedy Thoroughbreds on one day, and then fawning over the shimmering Akhal-Teke on the next. Every new breed you discover fuels your love of horses even more, and you find yourself adding one more item to your “Horse of My Dreams” list.
Sometimes, you’ll see people riding horses that you’ve never seen before, and suddenly you’re doing everything you can to learn about those creatures. They might not be among the most expensive horse breeds in the world, or even among the fastest horse breeds, but they look remarkable enough to demand your undivided attention.
A while back, we shared a list of the rarest horses in the world, and where they can be found. We also wrote about the 8 most expensive horse breeds and why they’re worth the splurge. Now, it’s time to obsess over some of the more unusual horse breeds on the planet.
In this article, we’ll take a quick look at the following unique horse breeds and what makes them so special:
- Bashkir Curly
You’ll learn a little bit about the history of these breeds, as well as some tidbits of their relationships with horse people like you. You might just find your new favorite breed among them.
As one of the oldest equine breeds in the world today, the Camargue Horse enjoys an extraordinary level of protection and preservation in their native France, making them one of the more expensive horse breeds in the area. The breed still has the heavy square head shape of primitive horses, and has remarkably water-resistant hooves due to thousands of years living in the marshlands of the Camargue region.
While many of them roam wild, some Camargue Horses are put to work herding bulls, thanks to their sturdy builds and high endurance. These working horses are cared for by locals who stick closely to the practices of American cowboys from the 1800s, in an effort to preserve the breed’s natural characteristics as much as possible. In fact, it’s often said that looking at a Camargue Horse today is like getting a glimpse of our ancient past.
For many horse people, the Gypsy Vanner is the definition of “majestic.” With strong, muscular proportions and long, feathery hair on their heels, they look right at home in frosty winter fantasies, making them an honest-to-goodness “horse of my dreams.”
Depending on who you ask, the breed is also known as the Gypsy Cob, the Irish Cob, or the Tinker Horse. They were originally bred to pull the caravans of Romani travelers, which explains their thick necks, broad chests, and strong hindquarters. Because these caravans were effectively the homes of these travelers and their families, Vanners are naturally affectionate. This gentle temperament, coupled with their high intelligence, make them wonderful partners for dressage.
With some members of the family looking like a cross between a sheep and a horse, Bashkir Curlies are some of the most unusual-looking horse breeds on the planet. These calm, intelligent horses have a gene that can make all of their hair, from their manes to their fetlocks, wavy or curly. They’re also considered to be the only hypoallergenic horse breed, as their hair also lacks the protein that triggers most allergic reactions. This makes them the perfect companion for any frustrated horse people who can’t approach a stallion without sneezing.
Not all Bashkir Curlies actually have curly hair, however. Some purebreds may have completely straight hair, so you might have already met one without knowing it. If you’d like to see their unique coats at their best, try to visit one in the winter, when their curls grow thickest. You might have trouble believing this wooly little creature is a real horse.
The short and stocky Fjord horse is known to be an all-rounder; they’re strong enough to work as plowing and pulling horses, but are also agile enough to be a great horse for riding, too. Their densely-packed musculature and bone structure make them extra-sturdy, and gives some Fjords a cute pot-bellied appearance due to their below-average height.
The Fjord is one of the oldest known purebreds, with Viking records showing them being ridden as war horses more than 2,000 years ago. Because they were also used as farm animals, however, they’re widely known to have a good temperament. If you visit their native Norway, you’ll probably spot them pulling tourists and fellow horse people around on carriages.
If you’ve ever seen people riding horses that looked like they were wearing a dalmatian costume, they’re probably Knabstruppers. This Danish breed is best identified by its spotted coat, caused by a genetic mechanism known as a leopard complex.
Knabstruppers are athletic and energetic, making them ideal sporting horses. Thanks to their unique coloration, they’re quite the attention-grabbers at events, making them the perfect horse breed for equestrians who enjoy the spotlight. They’re also great companions, with a friendly demeanor that makes them extra-playful.
Don’t let its small stature fool you–the Exmoor Pony is exceptionally hardy. This extremely old breed has adapted to the cold, wet weather near the southern shores of England. They grow a lush, thick coat during the chillier months, and have characteristically thick fleshy areas around their eyelids known as a “toad eye”, which protects their eyes from the rain.
Exmoor Ponies are quick learners and even-tempered, making them a great horse for children. They’ve also been known to excel at sporting events thanks to their surprising athleticism. The breed, however, has a relatively low population, making them hard to come by. The Exmoor Pony Society in the UK is dedicated to preserving these wonderful creatures and educating horse people in proper pony care.
The Argentinian Falabella Pony is one of the smallest horse breeds in the world, weighing an average of just 70 pounds. They’re so tiny, you’ll hardly ever see full-grown people riding horses of this breed. Some of them develop rather shaggy coats in colder weather, which makes them look extra-cuddly along with their size.
Falabellas are sociable creatures, and they get along fairly well with dogs, cats, and other farm animals. They’re also very gentle, loyal, and easy to train, so you can count on them being excellent companions for little kids, as well as anyone else with a love of horses.
This Indian breed shares the same unique inward-curving ears as its cousin, the Marwari Horse. Some experts say that the Kathiawari Horse’s ears curve more, to the point where their tips can touch and form a heart shape.
In olden times, Kathiawari Horses served as war mounts, developing a strong sense of loyalty to their owners. Stories say that some would even stay with wounded riders and defend them to the very end. That same loyalty can be seen in today’s Kathiawari, as they’re known to be quite affectionate and attentive to their human partners, making them a great match for people with a strong love of horses.
Camarillo Whites are a relatively young breed, the result of a selective breeding process that began in 1912, in the USA. They’re known most for their stunning white coloration that begins at birth, unlike other horses who get whiter with age. The color is a result of genes that give them white hair and pink skin.
The Camarillo White has a remarkably calm demeanor, and hardly ever gets spooked when other breeds might. This, plus their unique appearance, makes them a great horse for parades and other events with large crowds.
With their shaggy coats, thick manes, and high body fat percentage in the winters, Yakutian Horses sometimes look less like a real horse and more like a giant stuffed toy you can ride around in the snow. However, they are, in fact, one of the toughest breeds you can find in Siberia, able to survive temperatures as low as 70 degrees below zero.
Their naturally docile temperament allows them to feel very at home with horse people, making them an important part of Yakutian culture. Aside from transportation, they’re also used for milk and clothing, with their dense fur helping keep their humans safe from the cold.
Discovering all these unique horse breeds really adds to the fun of being a horse person. Getting to know all the different shapes and sizes these beautiful animals can take does a lot to deepen our love of horses. Furthermore, knowing that some of these breeds need extraordinary measures to be preserved for future generations helps us appreciate the horses in our lives more fully.
Every horse is unique no matter what their breed is, and each one deserves the very best care we can provide. If you want to give your horse a comfier, happier life, you might want to check out our collection of saddle pads, horse boots, and bit accessories.