50 Rare Horse Breeds You May Never See
Horses are magical creatures that display a combination of grace, speed and enormity that can only be described as awe-inspiring. What’s more are the horses that appear mythical — the ones that are so rare you have likely never heard of them, let alone seen one.
Unfortunately, a lot of these rare horse breeds have ended up on endangered species lists, but horse enthusiasts are working to ensure these horses continue to mystify us well into the future. Here, we look at 50 rare horse breeds and what exactly makes them so unique.
Almost wiped out in World War II, the lovely Lippizan breed of Austria has fought to regain numbers ever since. With fewer than 3,000 of them in the world, the Lippizan is considered a rare breed but for much more than just numbers.
Turning almost pure white as they age, gray Lippizans are known for their unicorn-like appearance as well as their prowess of upper level haute ecole dressage at the Spanish Riding School. Watching a Lippizan stallion perform Airs Above the Ground is something viewers never forget.
The Highland Pony is one of two pony breeds that hail from Scotland. Named after the Highlands, this is a stout pony breed with draft-like features.
White markings, such as a face star or leg stockings, are strongly discouraged in this breed, and stallions with facial markings are not allowed to be licensed with the European registry. They are adaptable to almost any discipline. There are less than 6,000 of them in the world, with most of them in Europe.
Known for the metallic sheen of its coat, the Akhal-Teke comes from Central Asia and may be the oldest cultivated horse breed. They are a hot-blooded breed and have contributed over the centuries to other much more common breeds, including the English Thoroughbred and the Arabian.
They are known for being great endurance horses and are tough, mirroring the rough terrain they were developed in. Desert horses, they can tolerate extreme heat and dry cold.
American Cream Draft
The American Cream Draft is America’s only draft horse breed and is listed as critically endangered by The Livestock Conservancy program, with fewer than 400 horses registered. Stallions can be up to 2,000 pounds in weight.
American Creams are recognized by their cream coat and unusual amber eyes. Like most draft breeds, they are known for a calm temperament and willingness to work.
American Cream Draft in Action
American Bashkir Curly Horse
With their curly coat and dreadlocked manes and tails, this rare breed is pretty unique. While unsure of how the breed came into being, researchers are certain it’s old — having found depictions of horses with curly coats in items from China that date back to 161 A.D.
The American Bashkir Curly is often traced to wild horse herds and Native American reservations. How it got to the United States is anyone’s guess, but some believe they crossed the land bridge between Russia and Alaska. Others believe they were brought overseas by Russian colonists in the 1700s, but there has been no evidence of curly horses from the Bashkir region (even though the breed bears its name).
Curly horses are known for calm temperaments and for being hypoallergenic, meaning they are less likely to cause someone with allergies to react.
American Bashkir Curly Horse in Action
There are less than 1,000 Suffolk Punch horses in the world today. This draft horse originated from Suffolk and Norfolk, England, sometime in the 1500s. They are one of the oldest recorded draft breeds and are known for a calm, even temperament and a great work ethic, having been bred purely to be a farmer’s workhorse.
The farmers rarely sold the horses they bred, so the Suffolk Punch lines remained pure, and the breed was never used for anything but agricultural work. Today, they are on the critical list with The Livestock Conservancy program.
If you have ever seen a photo of Queen Elizabeth II riding her horse, you have seen a Fell Pony! This lovely breed is a small but sturdy pony, bred in northern England. Along with other pony breeds in the region, they were used for ploughing, riding and packing by inhabitants of the area as well as for invading Vikings.
Later, they were used to pack merchandise for trading, and eventually, they found themselves in trotting races. With the Iron Age, this versatile pony was used in the mines. Today, the Fell Pony is used for pleasure riding and driving. They are sure footed and make a great trail mount and are also skilled hunter jumpers. They are a great mount for kids, and some even use them as therapy horses.
Thankfully, thanks to dedicated breeders, they are no longer on The Livestock Conservancy list; however, they are still listed as vulnerable by the U.K.’s Rare Breed Survival Trust.
Hailing from the Marwar region of India, this breed has an ancient history full of legends. Originally a breed that only noblemen could own, it almost died out after the caste system was overthrown because the populace saw them as a symbol of the nobility and hated them for it. In 1956, many of them were shot or castrated and given to rural farmers for use in the fields.
In the 1980s, the government banned the export of the breed in attempts to salvage it. The gene pool was so low, taking breeding stock out of the country may have caused the breed to go extinct. Thanks in part to Francesca Kelly, they lifted the ban in 1997. She and her husband had gone to India, fell in love with the breed and purchased several before learning they could not leave the country. So, they began to breed high-quality Marwaris in India and worked hard to create a breed standard.
Today, the Marwari is most known for its curved ears that sometimes touch. They are built for walking in deep sand, with less slant in the shoulder than most horse breeds. This does not allow for a lot of extension in the legs and reduces speed. While not fast, they are a smooth ride.
Black Forest Horse
This small draft breed originates from the Black Forest in Germany. While once popular for working on the farms and wooded areas, by the early 1980s, there were less than 200 registered broodmares in Germany. Breeders have been working hard to get their numbers up, but even now, almost four decades later, there are still only 700 registered mares and just 46 approved breeding stallions in Germany.
The Black Forest Horse has gentle temperament and makes a great riding and driving horse. They are most recognizable for their dark chestnut (red, almost brown) coat and flaxen (blonde) mane and tail.
Black Forest Horse in Action
The French Ardennes is a lighter draft than the Belgian but is celebrated for its quick growth or maturation rate and a docile temperament. Owners claim they are one of the easiest draft horses to train to cart or saddle, and because they are quicker to mature than other drafts, they can be used earlier.
The breed has been around since the Crusades, when stallions were used to carry knights into battle. Today, they are used for riding and driving. The Riding for the Disabled Association in the U.K. uses a number of them in their program. Even more interesting, several towns in the Ardennes region have started to use them once again for waste collection and for tilling the vineyards.
Not a breed in the usual sense of the word, Przewalski's horse is actually the only living horse that is truly wild, meaning it was not originally developed by humans. They come from Mongolia and used to run wild on the steppes of western Mongolia and northern China. However, wild Przewalski's horses went extinct in the 1960s.
Since then, captive-bred animals have been reintroduced into the wild. Listed on the International Union for Conservation Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as endangered, scientists are now having to step in and clone horses using DNA found from deceased Przewalski's horses to add genetic diversity to the remaining ones in the hopes of saving them.
Przewalski’s Horse in Action
Named for the family that developed this breed in Argentina, the Falabella is the world’s most pure miniature horse. It has a long history starting with Patrick Newell in the 1840s. He was captivated by the small equines in the area and worked to breed and develop them. His son, Juan Falabella, continued the work as did his son and his son’s son.
The Falabella is known for not only looking like a true miniature horse with no pony traits, but for being as strong as horses several times their size. Most are between just 27 and 34 inches at the withers. Like the Arabian, they have fewer vertebrae and ribs than other equine breeds. Today, there are less than 2,000 Falabella registered with the Falabella Miniature Horse Association.
The Exmoor pony is a hardy pony breed that has a double coat in the winter, with a special top layer that is practically waterproof. They excel at driving and make great mounts for small adults and children. They are very smart and make great agility ponies — Vanessa Bee, the founder of the International Horse Agility Club, has several.
There are less than 1,000 of them left, and they are listed as critical by The Livestock Conservancy and endangered by the U.K.’s Rare Breeds Survival Trust, which puts their numbers at just three to 500 in their native land. The Exmoor Pony has a unique lifestyle in its native home of Exmoor, England, where many groups and individuals work hard to raise their numbers. There, approximately 20 herds roam free. Each pony is owned, and once a year, they are rounded up and the foals sold. These foals are important for genetic diversity.
It’s quite a treat to visit Exmoor and see the wild ponies, but remember to drive slow and not to approach the ponies.
The Noriker is most often recognized by a loud leopard-spotted coat, though they can be roan and solid colors, too. They are one of the oldest European draft breeds but are quite rare, especially outside of Europe.
There are only four Noriker horses in the United States currently.
This breed of draft horse hails from Denmark and was developed from the Suffolk and Shire draft breeds. They are not an overly large draft, usually being around 15- to 16.2-hands high and weighing around 1,500 to 1,700 pounds.
They are known for their calm temperament with a great work ethic. Bred for agricultural work originally, they are now used as driving and riding mounts in more urban settings. The Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen, Denmark, still uses Jutlands to pull their wagons.
The Marsh Tacky was developed in South Carolina from Colonial Spanish horses. It is considered one of the most endangered horse breeds in the world. Feral horses were caught and used by colonists, Native Americans and slaves. Known for being extremely hardy and with a gentle and brave nature, they were used for hunting, herding livestock, delivering the mail, carrying children and field work.
By the 1960s and 70s, they were also being raced on beaches at Hilton Head Island. The Carolina Marsh Tacky Association has revived the tradition of beach racing. South Carolina named the breed its heritage horse in 2010. A breed registry was developed with the help of The Livestock Conservancy, which has them listed as critical.
Developed from other Irish breeds such as the Connemara and larger Norman and Spanish breeds, and even later the Thoroughbred, the Irish Draught (or Draft) was bred to be a workhorse that was also “pretty enough” for fox hunting and riding or driving to town in the late 1700s.
In 1901, they were officially recognized as a breed in Ireland and were used as cavalry horses in World War I. Today, you can find Irish Draught still being used for fox hunting as well as jumping. However, crossing with Thoroughbreds for a more athletic sport horse has greatly diminished the number of purebreds, resulting in them being listed as threatened by The Livestock Conservancy.
Rocky Mountain Horse
Although the breed is named for the Rocky Mountains, it was actually developed in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. Best known for a chocolate-colored coat with a flaxen mane tail (though they do come in other colors) and their smooth gaits, they are the result of the mountain people crossing Spanish-blooded horses with horses from the east like the Thoroughbred.
Purebred Thoroughbreds were owned by the wealthy, but these hardy gaited horses were owned by the poor and had to survive the harshness of the winter, including what little food their owner could provide or they could find on the mountainside. This resulted in a hardy, sure-footed animal with a calm temperament.
Sam Tuttle is one of the main founders of the breed. His stallion, Tobe, was prized as a breeding stallion and is considered the foundation stallion for the breed. He lived to be 37 years old and was used for breeding until he was 34. Aside from breeding, Tobe was used for trail riding and even used by visitors on guided tours at the National Bridge State Park. Today, the Rocky Mountain Horse is listed as threatened by The Livestock Conservancy.
Rocky Mountain Horse in Action
The Fjord is a very primitive breed, believed to be one of the world’s oldest and purest. Hailing from Norway, it is believed they are related to the Przewalski's horse and have kept a lot of the same primitive markings. The Fjord horse is a stout draft-type that excels at pulling a cart or a plow as well as being a riding horse.
Efforts to keep the lines pure in the United States include the discouragement of crossing with other breeds. Stallions and mares used to breed crosses lose their registration with Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry in America. Foal numbers stay relatively small each year, and the registries in the United States and Norway work closely to keep an eye on genetic diversity while keeping the lines pure.
This elegant pony was developed on the island of Gotland, Sweden. An old breed, history traces it back to 1800 B.C. when the inhabitants of Gotland used these small but mighty animals for farming and transportation. The breed developed somewhat naturally, a hardy breed created by hard winters and little food.
By the mid-19th century, many of the ponies had been sold for mining duties to other parts of Europe, and their numbers dwindled. There were just 150 ponies left at the beginning of the 20th century. The Gotland Agricultural Society stepped in to save the breed, and currently, they are listed as threatened by The Livestock Conservancy.
Another pony breed native to the U.K., Dales Ponies are known for their stamina, strength, intelligence and bravery. Like most of the ponies in the area, they were historically used in the mines. In the 1900s, Dales were bred to draft horses like the Clydesdale to make smaller, but thicker horses to pull large carts and as “gunners” for the military.
These vanner horses (some of which would contribute to the Gypsy breed), increased in popularity, which caused a decrease in the Dales Pony numbers. In 1916, the Dales Pony Stud book was open to preserve the purebred pony. They are still listed as critical by The Livestock Conservancy and the U.K.’s Rare Breed Survival Trust.
Larger than most ponies, at around 14- to 14.2-hands high and very stocky, they are a good mount for adults as well as children. They make excellent endurance horses and excel at jumping, including hunter and cross-country disciplines. They are also seen competing in dressage and of course excel at driving events.
It might surprise you to hear that the Clydesdale is on The Livestock Conservancy’s threatened list and deemed vulnerable by the Rare Breed Survival Trust. After all, the Budweiser Clydesdales are so famous, they are one of the few breeds that even non-horse people know. Named after the River Clyde from its native Scotland, the large draft breed is definitely a crowd favorite at any pulling or driving event.
But their large size — over 16 hands tall and often over 2,000 pounds — has resulted in dwindling numbers as the face of horse ownership has changed during the last two centuries. In North America in particular, the economic downturn in 2010 saw a sharp reduction in numbers. The Livestock Conservancy estimates there are about 5,000 Clydesdales left in the world. Aside from being known for their large size, gentle nature and amazing pulling ability, the breed has been used to create many other breeds, including the popular Gypsy.
Compared to many breeds on this list, the American Brabant is a “young breed.” A spin-off of the European Belgian, the America Brabant began to take shape in the 1960s, when European horses were brought over to America by Albert Stankiewicz because he did not like the taller and lighter-bodied Belgian that had been created here.
The Brabant from Belgium are the heaviest of all draft breeds, and the American Brabant has stayed true to this type. The European horse is being watched by The Livestock Conservancy. Horses can be registered with the American Brabant Association as long as they have at least 25 percent European blood.
American Brabant in Action
In North Carolina, there is a herd of feral Banker horses that are unique to that state. These horses are descendants of the Colonial Spanish Mustangs, much like the Chincoteague Ponies. They have an even temperament and are a small, hardy breed. They get their name from the Outer Banks of North Carolina that they call home, approximately 175 miles of sand with sparse vegetation spanning from the Virginia line to below Cape Lookout.
What makes this critically endangered species so amazing is that, after research completed by Horse of the Americas Registry and the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, it was found that they are the closest living relative to the Spanish horse from the 1500s. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is working on preserving the breed.
The Cleveland Bay is one of England’s oldest horse breeds. It’s named after the Cleveland area and the bay color it is known for. Originally a pack horse, Queen Elizabeth I turned the breed into a coach horse as well as a hunting mount.
The breed went through times of popularity to almost being extinct after World War II. By the 1960s, there were barely enough stallions and mares to keep the breed going. Queen Elizabeth II stepped in and bought a Cleveland Bay colt, whom she stood to the public, once again bolstering the breed’s popularity. The breed would fall again in the 1980s before starting to climb back up in numbers during the 21st century.
Today, they are seen competing in many disciplines and being crossed with Thoroughbreds to create hunters. The U.K.’s Rare Breed Survival Trust lists them as critical, as does The Livestock Conservancy.
The Newfoundland was developed by crossing several other breeds in Newfoundland, Canada, in the 1600 and 1700s. A sure-footed, good-natured pony, they can carry small adults and children and are under 14.2 hands high. The Newfoundland Pony Conservancy Center says they are more like dogs than horses. This unique temperament is what made them so useful to fishermen, farmers and those transporting goods throughout Newfoundland before vehicles. As cars and other machines came into use, however, the pony numbers dwindled.
With less than 400 of these ponies remaining in the world and only 40 in the United States, the breed is critically endangered.
Newfoundland Pony in Action
Bred in Quebec from horses imported from France in the late 1660s, the Canadian Horse is a hardy and quick breed that was used for everything a horse could be used for in the isolated Quebec region of that time. Lines were kept pure due to the lack of outside influence. However, as people traveled more and more, so did the horse. By the American Civil War, so many Canadian Horses were being sent to the United States and being killed in the war that the breed was nearly extinct.
In 1886, a group of breeders from Quebec formed the Societe des Eleveurs des Chevaux Canadiens, an association and studbook to preserve the breed. Today, they are listed as critically endangered, with around 2,500 remaining.
Another breed of horse on the American continent that has its root in the Spanish horses is the rare Galiceño. Developed in Mexico, the breed’s roots have been traced back to the Garrano horses of Portugal from the Iberian Peninsula. Left to breed mostly on their own for 500 years, the breed developed without human intervention, so they are very pure, showing almost no outcrossing. They have no Appaloosa or Paint blood.
A small breed getting no more than 14-hands high, they are sturdy and are able to carry small adults. They have very smooth gaits, and some are even gaited, presenting a running walk. There are fewer than 100 of these special horses left, and they are listed as critically endangered with The Livestock Conservancy.
The California Vaquero breed has a similar story to that of the Galiceño. Developed from the Colonial Spanish Horses, the breed was popular while the “West was won.” These particular horses were found running wild in the Needles Mountain Range in southwest Utah, the products of Spanish horses that had gotten loose during raids on missions and ranches in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Studies have shown these horses, part of the Sulphur Springs Herd Management Area, are genetically related to Iberian horses. They rarely have white on them and are usually dun or grullo in color, as those colors were popular by the Spaniards that brought them over. Today, they are less than 100 of these horses, and they are listed as critically endangered with The Livestock Conservancy.
California Vaquero in Action
The Knabstrupper is known for its spotted coat, in particular the leopard pattern that looks like a dalmatian. People often confuse it and the Noriker, which can also have this coat patterning. The Knabstrupper is most likely where the Appaloosa got their spots from. The breed developed in Denmark in the late 1700s. The stallion, Thor, born in 1847, is considered the “founder of the breed.”
They are a hardy, easy-to-keep breed that does well in jumping and dressage as well as driving. By the 1800s, the breed had already started to decline, and it all but died out. A spotted filly born in 1897 on the Knabstrup Estate was a surprise and started the breeding back up again, but with the same gusto as before. Today, the breed is still very rare, and other breeds have been used over the years to try and keep it going, resulting in the thinning of pure blood.
Since 1989, the Florida Cracker Horse Association has been working hard to preserve this rare breed that is listed as critically endangered with The Livestock Conservancy. They had just 30 horses registered that first year, and now they have close to 1,000.
The Florida Cracker horse is a cow horse bred from Spanish horses for use by Florida cattlemen, nicknamed “crackers,” because of the sound the bullwhip makes when it snaps.
Florida Cracker in Action
Another draft breed that you may be surprised to learn is rare is the Shire. Listed as threatened by The Livestock Conservancy and at risk by the U.K.’s Rare Breed Survival Trust, they are the largest of the British draft horses. These are the horses that carried the knights into battle with all their armor during medieval times and then worked the farms in later centuries. They are known for a large amount of feather on their feet and for great work ethic.
Popularity declined after World War I, and by the 1960s was at an all time low. Since then, breed associations have worked to increase numbers.
Once thought to be extinct, the Caspian breed is believed to be an ancient one from as early as 3,000 B.C. Narcy Firouz and his wife, Louise Laylin Firouz, are attributed with saving the breed, which they learned about while living in Iran in the 1950s. In 1965, they went looking for these small horses and found them. They started a breeding center to conserve the breed and even exported some to Europe as the breeding numbers increased.
Considered a national treasure by Iran, there are still some feral Caspians in the Elburz mountains. The breeding center founded by the Firouzes is now the National Caspian Stud Farm. This small breed is currently being documented by The Livestock Conservancy to track its genetic foundations. The breed is listed as critically endangered.
The Tiger Horse is believed to be the precursor to the Appaloosa. A gaited breed of Spanish descent with spots, they were called Tiger Horses by the Spaniards due to their coloration. As this color fell out of fashion with the rise of the Thoroughbred, many of them were traded to Native Americans, who prized the colors. The Nez Perce Tribe, in particular, loved them and used many of these horses in their breeding programs. The horses also became popular with western colonists due to the very smooth four-beat gait, sometimes called an “Indian shuffle.”
In 1994, the Tiger Horse Association was launched to try and save the breed by tracking down horses with breed characteristics and then researching their DNA. However, this association appears to no longer exist, though breeders can be found that are still trying to preserve the breed.
Another English breed that is on The Livestock Conservancy’s critical list is the Hackney Horse. A cross of several trotting breeds with the Thoroughbred, the Hackney excelled as a trotting horse that not only had stamina but speed at the trot while pulling a roaster-type cart. Back then, a Hackney could traverse a 100-mile race in 10 hours.
In the 1800s, trains made travel by horse cart not as necessary, and fashion began to favor lighter carriage horses with higher leg action. The breed dwindled. Today, there are around 3,000 of them, with most of them in Britain. Only 200 are in North America and 300 in Argentina. They should not be confused with the Hackney Pony, which was created by crossing the Hackney with pony breeds.
The Eriskya Pony is an adorable breed that hails from Scotland. They are critically endangered, with only about 300 left.
This is a hardy pony that can easily carry a small adult and excels at hunting, dressage, cross country, driving and more. They are mostly grey in color, though bays and black are found. The Eriskay Pony Society is in charge of preserving the breed in Scotland.
A horse native to China, the Balikun is small but strong — it can easily carry heavy loads over long distances.
It comes from the Xinjiang region of China and is usually bay or chestnut in color.
Once thought extinct until a small herd was discovered, the Arenberg-Nordkirchen Pony hails from northwest Germany. Developed in 1923, they are a sport-type pony with a good nature.
They are listed as “highest risk” on the German Rote Liste der bedrohten Nutztierrassen im Bundesgebiet, the “red list” that is published annually on threatened breeds of domestic animals. There are only two living stallions currently, and there is an effort to raise money to preserve the population by preserving one of the old stallion’s semen.
Arenberg-Nordkirchen Pony in Action
The Heck Horse is actually a manmade breed that was an attempt to bring back the extinct Tarpan (more on it later). Heinz and Lutz Heck, brothers and zoologists, created the breed that is named after them in the 1930s.
These horses are dun or grullo with primitive markings like the Tarpan or Przewalski’s horses. While a few pure Heck Horses remain, they have traveled the world and been mixed with other breeds, including Welsh Ponies, Arabians and Thoroughbreds.
Bosnian Mountain Horse
Sometimes called the Bosnian Pony or Bosniak, among other names, the Bosnian Mountain Horse is the only breed native to Bosnia. They are small and hardy and believed to be the result of crossing Tarpans and Monologian Wild Horses.
Being very agile, they are used as mounts and pack animals in terrain that motor vehicles cannot access. After the Bosnian War, there was a drastic decrease in numbers. There were just 7,000 of them in 2002.
Bosnian Mountain Horse in Action
Once on the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) list as “at risk,” this small horse from Kyrgyzstan has made a comeback and, in 2007, was listed as “not at risk” by DAD-IS.
The Kyrgyz horse was originally the only way to travel the mountainous terrain of its homeland. They are known for incredible endurance. When mixed with larger horses to create a bigger horse, a new breed was created called the Novokyrgyz, or “New Kyrgyz.”
Developed in the former Soviet Union, the Budyonny Horse was used as a military horse and as an all-around riding and driving mount. They are a fairly tall breed standing at around 16 hands and are most commonly chestnut in color, though you can find bay, grey and black as well.
They were used extensively during the Russian Revolution.
The Posavac was developed in Croatia. It is sometimes called the Posavina Horse or the Croation Posavac as well. A well-mannered small draft breed, they are known for being easy to handle. They are used for weight-pulling, driving and agricultural work.
In Slovenia, they have also been used for meat. They are listed as endangered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
This critically endangered horse was developed in Japan in the late 1600s. It is thought that the horse originally used to develop the breed came from China early on in the first century A.D.
Those horses were then used to develop eight distinct breeds, the Misaki Horse being one of them. They are mostly solid colors, with no white markings and stand around 13 hands.
Australian Draught Horse
The Australian Draught Horse was developed by mixing several draft breeds that were commonly used in Australia, including the Percheron, Clydesdale, Belgian, Shire and Suffolk Punch. The Australia Draught is still used for heavy pulling and farming, including draught competitions. Some ride their Draughts as well.
The Australian Draught Horse Stud Book Society was created to help preserve the breed and to promote the breeding and working of draught horses in Australia.
Australian Draught Horse in Action
Used mainly for riding and carting, including racing, the Sanhe is a breed of horse from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. They are considered the most developed of the Chinese breeds.
The name means “three rivers” in Chinese and is a nod to the region in which the breed was developed.
The French breed has been around for thousands of years, though no one knows for sure how it was originally developed. It’s believed that Celtic horses running free on the steppes were the base for the breed, known for its comfortable gait.
Today, there are three types of Breton horses. The first is a small draft, considered the closest to the original Breton; the Breton draft that is heavier and used more for farm work; and the Postier Breton that has floating gaits and is as big as the draft type but more elegant in looks.
Another breed from France, the Selle Français is a sport horse that was created by crossing Thoroughbreds with AngloArabs and French Trotters to create an amazing athlete. They are successful competition horses in jumping, dressage and eventing as well as driving and vaulting.
While they have gained acclaim in the rings, including Olympic medals, there are still relatively few Selle Français bred each year, making them rarer than many other sport horses.
The Tarpan is not just a rare breed of horse, it’s an extinct breed. It’s believed the last of them died out in captivity in 1876. They resembled the Przewalskii horse and were also a wild breed.
Originally, the breed roamed from Southern France and Spain, eastward to Russia.
The Turkoman is another breed of horse that, like the Ahal-Teke (a relative) has a metallic sheen to the coat. The Turkoman resembled the Arabian and had both speed and stamina. However, they had no mane, which is thought to be a trait that was bred into them, as they were used primarily for mounted archery, where a long mane would get in the way.
Originally from the Turkoman Desert, the breed is now considered extinct in its original form, though it lives on in the Ahal-Teke and other breeds it influenced.