When we think of endangered species, our minds more often than not conjure up images of giant pandas, Asiatic lions or Asian elephants. We don’t, however, immediately think of horses. Nevertheless, there are some horse breeds that are now very rare and even on the verge of extinction. And you’ll see many of these beautiful animals in the following pictures.
Image: via The Irish Draught Horse Society
20. Irish Draught
The Irish Draught might not be in as bad a shape as it once was, but there are still only some 8,000 of these horses worldwide. The numbers of this strong, athletic horse originally declined as their draft jobs were taken by machinery.
Image: via Pinterest/Michelle
19. Belgian Brabant
The Belgian horse is considered to be “recovering” by the Livestock Conservancy. Its numbers, predictably, suffered throughout World War II and mechanization, but the breed was apparently saved from extinction – in part at least – by people who loved this kind of horse.
18. Fell Pony
The British Fell pony is adept at traveling over rocky terrain and is still utilized today for logging and negotiating the sort of land that tractors can’t handle. But, technology has mostly been the cause of its drop in numbers, and the breed is on the Livestock Conservancy’s watch list.
Clydesdales are strong, handsome draft horses whose stately appearance led to their first use in Budweiser commercials in the 1930s. However, they are on the preservation watch list, as merely 5,000 of the horses remain globally.
Image: Conversano Isabella
The Lipizzan is listed as a “threatened” breed by the Livestock Conservancy, with roughly 3,000 of them left in the world. It’s a magnificent white-gray mount that has its roots in Spanish nobility during the 16th century, and today it may be seen in dressage.
Image: via Canadream Farm
Originating from a French breed, Canadian horses are powerful, fast and stunning. Unfortunately, however, many of these “little iron horses” were killed in action during the American Civil War. There are still only 2,000 of these horses in the world, but the Livestock Conservancy states that their future prospects are good.
Image: Martin Pettitt
14. Suffolk Punch
Suffolk Punch horses were among the earliest draft breeds to exist in the U.K., and they possess great stamina and magnificently strong frames. Mechanization and war saw their numbers decline, though, and today there are thought to be fewer than 1,500 Suffolk Punches around the globe.
13. Eriskay Pony
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust believes that the striking Eriskay Pony has only been found on two Outer Hebrides islands in the north of Scotland since the late 1960s. The animals’ temperament is such that it can be utilized for therapeutic sessions with disabled kids.
Image: Artur Baboev
The Akhal-Teke is a national symbol of Turkmenistan and is though to descend from breeds existing three millennia ago. They are nicknamed “Golden Horses,” thanks to their stunningly beautiful coats, but are considered as “threatened” by the Livestock Conservancy.
Image: Kay Schlumpf
Hackney horses are highly athletic and graceful, which is why they were excellent carriage horses. However, the wider use of trains in the 1800s caused reliance on them – and thus their numbers – to decline. Its use in racing and shows assisted in its survival, though it is still on the critical list.
Image: Just chaos
10. American Cream Draft
Amber-eyed with a wonderful white coloration, the American Cream Draft is unique as an American draft breed. And despite being on the Livestock Conservancy’s critical list, thanks predominately to mechanization, its numbers are thought to be on the rise.
Image: Kerri-Jo Stewart
There are just a handful of naturally occurring miniature horses in the world, and the beautifully slim Persian Caspian is one of them. The breed, though, was thought to be non-existent until 1965, and it remains in critical condition today.
It may come as a shock to see traditional Morgan horses featuring here, as it is something of an emblem of American history. However, these proud and regal-looking equines are considered to be critically endangered by the Livestock Conservancy.
Image: via Cleveland Bay Horse Society
7. Cleveland Bay
A native of Britain dating back to the 1600s, the regal Cleveland Bay was used for a great many things, and it was Britain’s royal family that helped to save them from extinction in the mid 20th century. There are, however, still less than 1,000 of these horses remaining.
6. Exmoor Pony
The Livestock Conservancy states that there are less than 800 Exmoor Ponies remaining on the entire planet, with the majority of the animals present in the U.K. The Exmoor is said to be a direct descendent of ponies that were around in England tens of thousands of years ago.
5. Dales Pony
The small, dark and handsome English Dales Ponies are a stalwart breed. However, in WWII they were used as workhorses and, in some cases, killed for food, which quickly depleted their numbers. Indeed, there were as few as 800 left at the turn of the 21st century.
Image: Kirsty Hagger
4. Colonial Spanish Strains
Spanish settlers brought various related horse breeds to the U.S., including Wilbur-Cruces, Florida Crackers, Sulphurs, Santa-Cruzes, New Mexicos and Pryors. They come in almost every color imaginable, but sadly these Colonial Spanish strains have been critically endangered since the mid 20th century.
3. Shire Horse
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust claims that the proud Shire Horse “survived due only to the support of a small number of individual breeders and brewers” following agricultural mechanization. These impressive steeds were once used by armored knights in medieval Britain.
Image: via Villi Poni Farm
2. Newfoundland Pony
The Newfoundland Pony is another victim of the agricultural industry’s mechanization. In fact, in 2013 the Livestock Conservancy predicted that there were less than 250 of these horses left worldwide, which means that the animals’ gorgeous seasonal coats may not be with us for much longer.
1. Abaco Barb
The last last surviving member of Abaco Barb, named Nunki, died in July 2015, despite the efforts of conservationists. However, the Wild Horses of Abaco association claims that they are preparing “for the returned of this breed of horse from extinction,” so all may not be lost.