Last Updated on March 1, 2022 by Allison Price
We have a special place for small horses. They are just as beautiful as their larger cousins but they have a little more cute!
We’ll be looking at 17 small horse breeds around the globe. We will learn about their history and characteristics. We’ll also learn some interesting facts!
Let’s go if you are ready.
Table of Contents [ hide]
- 1. Noma
- 2. Miniature Horse
- 3. Guoxia
- 4. Falabella
- 5. Shetland Pony
- 6. Yonaguni
- 7. Norwegian Fjord
- 8. Icelandic
- 9. Class B Kentucky Mountain Saddle
- 10. Virginia Highlander
- 11. M’Par
- 12. Lokai
- 13. Heck
- 14. Faroe Pony
- 15. Giara
- 16. Baise
- 17. Campeiro
- It’s small but it’s beautiful!
Shikoku is the home of the Noma horse, which is the smallest island in Japan. Unfortunately, this beautiful animal is now an endangered species . Despite the fact that numbers have increased through careful breeding programs, they are still very low.
This breed was created in the 16 th century, as a result of selective breeding to produce larger horses for battle. Local farmers were permitted to keep smaller animals (12 hands and less)
These horses were able to travel up steep mountains and along narrow roads, making them extremely valuable in agriculture. The Noma breed was a distinctive breed that became compact, sturdy and strong.
Today, the horses still live in their own reserve at Noma Uma High. It is a popular tourist attraction that attracts around 20,000 people each year.
2. Miniature Horse
The miniature horse is not a particular breed. It’s more a general term that covers a variety of smaller animals.
In the 17 th century, miniature horses were first introduced to Europe. They were loved by the royals because of their charming appearance. Small ponies were also used in collieries throughout England and Wales in the 19 th, 20 th centuries.
Miniature horses are now often kept as companion animals. These adorable animals are the focus of many shows, which include jumping, halter and trail competitions. Some miniature horses can even be used as aid animals.
Miniature horses, despite their smaller size, are still a true horse. They require plenty of space and they thrive outdoors.
Guoxia is a southern Chinese horse. Its name literally means “under fruit tree horse”. Because it was only 10 inches tall, the Guoxia was perfect for carrying small baskets full of fruit in orchards.
It is believed that appeared for the first time during the Song dynasty between 960-1279 AD. It was thought to be extinct for many years. It was discovered that about 1000 animals had been found living in the rocky areas of China in 1981.
Guoxia is well-known for its energy and stamina. It is small with pointed ears and a small head. The thick, dense coat can be found mostly in gray, roan, and bay shades.
The Falabella horse is among the world’s most diminutive. This elegant horse is still able to maintain the proportions of a horse, rather than a pony.
It hails from Argentina and is a descendant Iberian and Andalusian horses that were brought to South America by the Spanish. Its name is derived from Juan Falabella who was an early breeder and developed the breed in mid-19 th century.
A mature Falabella is between 28 and 34 inches tall. They are similar in build to Thoroughbred or Arab horses. Although the head is slightly larger, the neck may be a little longer.
The majority of Falabellas can be found in bay, brown, or black. However, you might also find palomino or pinto coats. They are great for children and can pull carts.
5. Shetland Pony
The Shetland Pony, like its name, is a pony and not a horse. This little horse has a lot of personality.
It is a native of the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland. The harsh environment created a strong horse with a thick coat, long legs, and toughness. They can have any color coat, but are not often spotted. Shetlands can live up to 30 years.
They were once used as pit ponies and to pull carts and ploughs in years past. Some Shetlands animals still carry peat. They are now more common to be used as therapeutic and riding animals.
The Yonaguni, like the Noma is one of eight Japanese horse breeds. The Yonaguni is also a small breed with a height of approximately 11.2 hands and a friendly disposition.
This endangered breed is home to only 130 animals. They all live on Yonaguni Island where the Yonaguni Pony Society works hard to protect and promote this breed.
Horses were used traditionally in agriculture. However, their numbers have declined with the advent of modern machinery. The Society promotes their use in education and recreational riding.
7. Norwegian Fjord
Norwegian Fjord horses are a native Norwegian breed . They originate from west Norway’s mountains. Horses are typically between 13.1 and 14.2 inches high and have dun coats.
They have the muscle of a draft horse, but smaller proportions and greater agility. They are able to carry a full-grown adult or pull heavy loads despite their small size.
Because of their strength, they were highly valued on farms even before machines took over plowing jobs. They are gentle. They are used as therapy animals and riding horses because of their calm nature.
The Norse settlers brought the ancestors of Icelandic horses to the country. According to historians, the Vikings chose the short, sturdy breed because it was suitable for long journeys.
They are between 13 and 14 inches tall and weigh between 730 to 840 pounds. They are smaller than a pony but are still considered horses. Many attribute their gentle, but strong nature to their bone structure as well as their weight.
Icelandic horses can be found in more than 40 colors and many variations. Icelandic people believe that a horse’s color reflects its personality. “pink” horses are, for instance, considered willful.
9. Class B Kentucky Mountain Saddle
Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horses can be divided into two groups based on their height. The Class B horses, which are shorter than the others, stand between 11 and 14.1 inches high.
This breed is from Kentucky, as you would expect from its name. In 1989, the first breed association was established. There are now over 24,000 horses registered. They are most often found in their home states, but can be found all over the USA and Canada.
The “single-foot” is the breed’s natural ambling gait. It is a smooth horse, with horses that are especially prized for their ability to tread on uneven terrain.
10. Virginia Highlander
The Virginia Highlander can be found mainly in the eastern and southeastern regions of the USA. Under the watchful eyes of William M. Pugh, it was established as a breed in 1960.
Horses can stand between 13 to 14 hands. Their natural, single-footed gait is well-known and their friendly, spirited temperament. There are many color options for their coats, including black, white, gray and chestnut.
In the middle of the 20 th century, a breed registry was established. Today. There are more than 130 Virginia Highlanders registered.
The Cayor region in Senegal is where the M’Par is found. It is one of the four native breeds. It is also known as Cheval de Cayor, its French name.
It can be measured between 12.3 and 13.3 inches in height. It isn’t the most beautiful horse, but it has a large head, a long back, and short legs. It is strong and durable, with a rustic charm.
It is a light draft animal that pulls smaller carriages and carts. Although there aren’t any official numbers, it is believed that the population is declining. It appears that the M’Par will be absorbed into M’Bayar, which is more populous.
The mountains of Tajikistan are where the Lokai is found. It is used to carry packs and for light draft work.
It is between 14 and 14.2 inches tall. The most common coat color for this breed is a gorgeous chestnut with gold flecks. Lokais can also have gray or bay coats. Sometimes they even have black or dun coats. Sometimes, you might also see an animal with curly hair.
Lokais are known for their long necks, prominent withers and short backs. They also have well-shaped, muscular legs. To create a new riding breed, they are being crossed with Thoroughbred and Arabian horses.
Lutz and Heinz Heck from Germany created the Heck to recreate the extinct Tarpin horse. The Heck is not a exact replica of the Tarpin horse, but it does share its grullo color, primitive markings (including stripes on the legs), and Tarpin-like markings.
The Heck is between 12.2 and 13.2 hands tall and has a large head, high withers, and strong hindquarters. They are calm, intelligent, curious, and friendly. However, they also possess a strong independent spirit.
Many horses were exported to America, where there was a breed association. A few American private breeders still use horses today for light driving and riding. A few Hecks are also found in Latvia.
14. Faroe Pony
Although the Faroe is a pony because of its small stature, it is considered a horse by Faroe Islanders due to its strength.
It’s very similar to the Icelandic horse, but it is shorter and can be held between 11.1- 12.1 hands. Its ancestors are horses brought to the islands by Irish monks, and then later by Vikings.
This breed was forced to adapt to the Faroese climate and became a tough animal that could survive on very limited food. Faroe Ponies live a long life expectancy. They are gentle and patient, but they can be a bit stubborn.
Due to extensive exports, their numbers declined and they were at risk of extinction by the 1960s. The population grew thanks to dedicated breeding programs. Today, there are 70 purebred animals living on the islands.
One of the 15 native breeds of the island of Sardinia is Giara. It can reach between 11.1 to 13.1 hands and is strong, sturdy, determined, courageous, and tough. The majority of these breeds are black, bay, or chestnut in color and have thick manes with small, strong hooves.
Today, around 700 Gaias live mainly on the rock plateau in southern Sardinia. Some are used for riding and on farms.
Now, efforts are underway to breed a mixture of Gaias horses and Arabian horses. The Gaiarab is expected to be successful in equestrian sport.
Guangxi, in southern China, is home to the Baise horse. Sometimes, it is called the “name of this region”.
Despite its small stature, it is a sturdy horse. It stands between 11 to 11.2 hands. The most common colors are bay, chestnut or black, with a heavy head and straight shoulders. They also have strong legs and hooves.
Although the exact origins of the breed are unknown, it appears that they have a long history in the area. Bronze statues of horses resembling the Baise were found in the 3rd Century BC.
It continues to play a vital role in community life today, including wedding ceremonies.
The Campeiro is a Brazilian horse, also known as Marchador das Araucarias. It is believed that it descends from horses brought to Brazil by Spanish expeditions during the 16 th century.
The average height of the breed is 14.1 inches and it weighs in at 930 pounds. Although chestnut is the most popular color, many horses can also be bay or dark gray.
Campeiros are very comfortable horses because of their ambling gait. Many horses are used today for riding, pulling light loads, and herding cattle.
Small is Beautiful
This concludes our review of 17 small horse breeds. We are sure you will agree that even small animals can be beautiful.
Small breeds are beloved by everyone, from horses who work on farms to pets and therapeutic animals. We hope that endangered breeds will continue to exist with the help of programs to protect them.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!