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8 Weird & Unusual Horse Breeds You Have to See

For thousands of years, humans have been breeding horses, resulting in over 350 different breeds. This has led to some weird and unusual horse breeds that stand out from the rest.

These unique and unusual horse breeds stand out for their distinct physical characteristics or unique abilities. They are unlike any other horse breeds, making them truly special.

Here are the 8 most unusual horse breeds in the world.

1. Bashkir Curly

Bashkir Curly horse, unique horse breed
Height:13.3-16 hands
Weight:800-1,000 pounds
Origin:America
Characteristics:Sturdy build, calm disposition and friendly personality
Unique Factor:Curly coats

The Bashkir Curly is an American breed of horse, with a mysterious background. Though no one is quite sure how long the Bashkir Curly has been in America, many believe they have been in the country since at least the early 1800s.

What makes the Bashkir Curly so unusual is their curly coats. Their coats have soft, fine hair that comes in ringlets, marcel waves (soft, deep waves), or crushed velvet (soft, dense pile of curls. In addition to their body having curls, their manes and tails also exhibit waves, kinks, or ringlets.

Bashkir Curly horses have medium-sized heads with refined jaws, short backs, and heavy-boned legs. They have calm, friendly personalities, making them great horses for people of all ages. Bashkir Curlies are a sturdy breed, used for jumping, dressage, western pleasure, and trail riding, among other things.

In the late 1800s, rancher John Damele and his son spotted horses with curly coats in central Nevada. The pair became fascinated with these horses and years later were able to catch one, contributing to the development of the breed.

Although the breed’s origin is mostly unknown because no common blood marker has been found, many curlies trace back to the Damele herd. Quarter horses, Morgans, and Arabians were used to develop the breed.

Facts About the Bashkir Curly

  • Some Bashkir Curly horses are hypoallergenic, making them the only breed of horse to be so.
  • Some Bashkir Curly horses can shed their mane and tail in the summer, which then grows back in fall/winter.
  • Their eyelashes can be curly.
  • Bashkir Curlies can come in all colors.
  • Foals are born with thick, crinkly coats.

2. Falabella

Falabella pony palomino trotting in a field
horsemen / Shutterstock.com
Height:26-30 inches
Weight:150-200 pounds
Origin:Argentina
Characteristics:Elegant, hardy builds, with calm dispositions and friendly personalities.
Unique Factor:Smallest breed of horse

The Falabella originates from Argentina and is the original miniature horse. Though often mistaken as ponies, they are in fact horses.

Though it may seem surprising, Falabella horses actually trace back to Andalusians and Iberian horses. These Spanish horses were left behind after unsuccessful attempts by conquistadors to conquer Argentina. In the late 1800s, Patrick Newtall began breeding local Criollo stock with the Spanish horses to create a smaller horse.

After Newtall’s death, Jaun Falabella took over breeding. Welsh ponies, small Thoroughbreds, and Shetland ponies were bred into the stock to create miniature-sized horses. After a lot of inbreeding, he created consistency within the breed.

Falabella horses have the same proportions as a regular horse, but in miniature size. All horses stand around 30” and come in a large variety of colors. They have refined heads, elegant yet hardy builds, and friendly personalities. Falabellas are popular companions and show horses, showing in driving and in-hand.

Facts About the Falabella

  • The original height standard was 40 inches but now it is 30 inches.
  • Falabellas can live to be up to 40-45 years old.
  • Falabellas often have 17 vertebrae versus the standard 18 in horses.
  • Some Falabellas have one less pair of ribs than the average horse.
  • Falabellas are around 12 inches when born.

3. Yakutian

Yakutian horse breed standing in snow tacked up
Credit: Maarten Takens (Flickr)
Height:12-14 hands
Weight:700-1,000 pounds
Origin:Russia
Characteristics:Sturdy, compact build, with a long winter coat
Unique Factor:Can survive Siberian winters and reduce their metabolism

The Yakutian is a hardy horse breed native to Siberia. Also called the Yakut horse, they are one of the oldest breeds of horse.

Yakutian horses have small, compact builds and are extremely hardy. Locals have long relied on these horses for transportation, milk and even in some cases, meat. Yakutian horses exhibit long, shaggy coats during winter similar to that of Woolly Mammoths.

Yakuitan horses are able to withstand frigid temperatures that other horses would not be able to. They have evolved to survive winters in the Yakutian region of Siberia, where temperatures can drop as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This incredible breed has undergone morphologic, metabolic and physiologic adaptations in just 800 years.

In winter, the hair on the Yakutain’s body can reach eight centimeters long and is extremely dense. During the winter, they reduce their metabolism while staying on their feet in what is referred to as standing hibernation. They are the only breed of horse to possess this unique capability.

During fall they develop fat reserves and by spring they have increased carbohydrate metabolism. Scientists even believe they are able to reduce the volume of circulating blood when temperatures become frigid to avoid frostbite.

Facts About the Yakutian

  • The Yakuitan is closely related to the Mongolian, Fjord and Icelandic horses.
  • Though their origins are not known for sure, they are likely descended from the Mongolian horse.
  • There are three types within the breed: Indigenous, Kolyma and Yansky.
  • Over time they have gotten smaller, with shorter legs.
  • The Yakutian horses have played a vital role in the lives of the Yakut people.

4. Caspian Horse

Herd of Caspian horses
Credit: esmail g.m (500px.com)
Height:10-12.2 hands
Weight:550-700 pounds
Origin:Iran
Characteristics:Elegant, refined builds, friendly personality.
Unique Factor:Were thought to be extinct and have five skeletal differences from other horse breeds.

The Caspian horse is a small, elegant horse breed originally from Iran. Considered one of the oldest horse breeds, they appeared in Persian art as early as 3,000 BC.

For over 1,000 years, many believed that the Caspian breed had gone extinct. However, in 1965, Louise Firouz discovered many Caspians in mountainous regions south of the Caspian Sea. Firouz, an American living in Iran, had heard rumors of small horses in nearby villages while she was looking for a small riding mount for children. After the rediscovery of these horses, a breeding program began to preserve this special breed.

Caspian horses have an appearance similar to Arabians, but are smaller in size. They have refined heads, athletic bodies and graceful necks. Caspian horses are versatile, as they excel in driving, jumping, eventing and dressage.

There are five skeletal differences that separate the Caspian horse apart from all other breeds. Their skulls have pronounced elevation or bulging of the interparietal and parietal bones, which are above the frontal bone and they possess no pa­rietal crest.

Caspian horses also have wider scapulas than other breeds, with their metacarpal and metatarsal bones being longer and slimmer in comparison to their height. Caspians have a pronounced elon­gation of the spinous processes in the first six thoracic vertebrae. In addition, their hooves are narrow and oval-shaped, similar to a donkey.

Facts About The Caspian

  • Caspians were once used to pull chariots.
  • A small number of feral Caspians remain in remote areas near the Elburz mountains.
  • The seal of King Darius the Great, which is in the British Museum, shows the Caspian horse.
  • Caspian horses come in all colors but piebald or skewbald.
  • Caspian horses first arrived in America in 1994.

5. Przewalski’s Horse

Przewalski's Horse breed walking in Mongolia
PhotocechCZ / Shutterstock.com
Height:12-14 hands
Weight:550-800 pounds
Origin:Mongolia
Characteristics:Compact, upright manes and primitive markings
Unique Factor:Only true wild horses left in the world

The Przewalski’s horse is the last truly wild horse breed in the world. These hardy horses are thousands of years old and are the subject of famous ancient cave paintings.

Przewalski’s horses once roamed across Europe and Asia. However, competition among people and livestock, along with changes in the environment, led them to East Asia. These unique horses have sturdy, compact builds and short legs. Their manes stand erect instead of falling to the side and they are typically dun in color, with primitive markings.

Przewalski’s horses were originally believed to be discovered by Russian explorer Colonel Przewalski in 1881. After his expedition and research, the breed was named after him. However, many think that other Europeans saw these distinctive horses before the Colonel’s discovery.

Attempts made to breed and exhibit Przewalski’s horses during the 19th century were generally unsuccessful. Breeding programs struggled due to lack of diversity in captivity, with only a few finding success. The breed was extinct from the wild for about 30 years until they were reintroduced into Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan during the 1990s. Fortunately, their numbers are now on the rise since returning to the wild.

Facts About Przewalski’s Horses

  • Przewalski’s horses now roam in Chernobyl.
  • To preserve the breed, scientists have cloned a Przewalski’s horse.
  • Some zoos still have Przewalski’s horses on exhibit.
  • Przewalski’s horses can live to be as old as 36.
  • Przewalski’s horses have 66 chromosomes compared to the domestic horse, which has 64.

6. Camarillo White Horse

Camarillo White Horse Standing In Shogran, Pakistan
Jrs Jahangeer / Shutterstock.com
Height:14.2-17 hands
Weight:900-1,250 pounds
Origin:America
Characteristics:Sturdy, refined builds, well-arched necks and friendly personality.
Unique Factor:Unique gene mutation that prevents their coats from expressing any colors.

The Camarillo White Horse is a rare, new breed of horse that is only 100 years old. This unique breed originates in America, developed by Adolfo Camarillo.

In 1921, Camarillo acquired a white Spanish Mustang by the name of Sultan. Camarillo showed Sultan much success, winning several stock championships throughout California. Camarillo decided to breed Sultan to Morgan mares, which led to the development of the Camarillo White Horse.

After Camarillo’s death, his daughter continued his work in the development of this special breed. The Camarillo White horse became a favorite to use in parades and festivals, as well as jumping, dressage, and western. They have a compact, yet refined body, strong legs, and a well-arched neck.

Camarillo White Horses carry a specific gene mutation that prevents their coats from expressing any color. They are the only breed to carry this distinct gene mutation. Unlike gray horses that are born dark and lighten over age, Camarillo White Horses are born white.

Facts About The Camarillo White Horse

  • There are only around 30 Camarillo White Horses.
  • To be registered, at least one parent must be a Camarillo White Horse, but the other one can be from an approved breed, including certain Andalusian and Standardbred bloodlines.
  • There is a Camarillo, California, where the Camarillo White Horse is the official horse.
  • Camarillo White Horses have been in the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Santa Barbara Fiesta Parade.
  • Famous people have ridden Camarillo White Horses including Ronald Reagan and movie star Leo Carrillo.

7. Akhal-Teke

Beautiful Akhal-Teke horse with a metallic coat
arthorse / Shutterstock.com
Height:14-16 hands
Weight:900-1,000 pounds
Origin:Turkmenistan
Characteristics:Lean and refined, with great endurance and speed
Unique Factor:Distinctive metallic coat

The Akhal Teke is one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, dating back to 3,000 years ago. These unique horses stand out for their speed, endurance, and distinctive metallic coats.

Akhal Teke horses originate from Turkmen and have been able to adapt to living in harsh desert climates. These elegant horses have lean, athletic builds with refined heads. Akhal Tekes make wonderful sport horses, as they compete in jumping, dressage, and eventing. In addition, they are also great endurance mounts and are even used as racehorses in Turkmenistan.

What really makes the Akhal Teke stand out is their unique metallic coats. Often referred to as “Golden Horses” they have distinctively shiny coats. They come in a variety of different colors including black, bay, chestnut, buckskin, cremello, palomino, perlino, and gray.

The unique glow of their coats is due to the structure of their hair, where the opaque core is reduced in size or may even be absent altogether. The medulla, which is the transparent part of the hair, takes up this space and acts like a light pipe. This results in light bending through one side and refracting out on the other side, creating a golden cast.

Facts about the Akhal Teke

  • In 1964, an Akhal Teke stallion named Absent, ridden by Sergei Filatov, won bronze in individual dressage at the Olympic Games.
  • The breed is highly-regarded in Turkmenistan and is found on their stamps, banknotes, and official coat of arms.
  • Akhal-Tekes were crossed with Appaloosas to create the Nez Perce breed.
  • Turkmenistan has its own agency, Turkmen Atlary, responsible for the breeding, training, and care of Akhal-Teke horses.
  • In 1941, the Soviet Union printed the first studbook for the breed.

8. Marwari

Bay Marwari horse with curly ears
Daria Koskova / Shutterstock.com
Height:14-16 hands
Weight:900-1,000 pounds
Origin:India
Characteristics:Refined, athletic builds, and excellent sturdiness.
Unique Factor:Curly ears

Marwari horses originate from the Marwar (or Jodhpur) region of Rajasthan, in India. First bred in the 12th century, this exotic breed was originally a fierce cavalry horse.

Marwari horses have a high set neck, athletic build, and refined head. What makes the breed so unusual is its unique ears. Their ears are curved at the top, causing the tips of their ears to touch. The distinct ears of a Marwari are often the first thing people notice when they see these elegant horses.

Marwari horses have many uses, including polo, dressage, endurance, in-hand, and show jumping. They are also popular horses for parades and ceremonies in India. Their sturdy builds allow them to withstand hot desert environments. They are athletic horses with excellent endurance and sturdiness.

The Indian government has long banned the export of this special breed. From 2000-2006, India lifted the ban and allowed a small number of horses to be exported. In 2008, India began allowing Marwari horses to be “temporary exports” for up to a year for exhibition in other countries.

Facts About the Marwari

  • In 2000, British horsewoman Francesca Kelly imported eight Marwaris to Massachusetts from India to help preserve the breed.
  • There are only around 1,000 Marwari horses in India.
  • Outside of India, there are only 30 Marwari horses.
  • The Marwari became the first Asian breed to have its entire genome mapped, revealing Arabian and Mongolian horses in their genetic makeup.
  • Marwari horses are gaited, exhibiting a fast four-beat gait that is smooth to ride.

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Comments

Jacquelyn Canoose

Thursday 26th of August 2021

I've never even seen a photo of these. Thanks for writing and sharing the article

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