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Endangered Horse and Pony Breeds

Updated on September 12, 2014

Everybody knows we need to save the whales, but how many people are aware that dozens of breeds of livestock are also considered endangered, some of them critically so? This Lens is a celebration of the power and beauty of the rarest breeds of horses in the world.

The Lens photo is a magnificent 2 year old Akhal-Teke named Murgi, photographed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

2007 Conservation Priority List

Compiled by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

In order to be listed by the ALBC, the breed must be a true genetic breed; that is, when mated together, it reproduces the breed type. The breed must also have a significant presence in the United States and conform to certain numerical guidelines:

Critical: Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000.

Threatened: Fewer than 1,000 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 5,000.

Watch: Fewer than 2,500 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 10,000. Also included are breeds that present genetic or numerical concerns or have a limited geographic distribution.

Recovering: Breeds that were once listed in another category and have exceeded Watch category numbers but are still in need of monitoring.

For more information on inclusion standards, please visit this page

Critically Endangered Breeds

Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000.

  1. American Cream Draft

    The only draft horse breed native to the United States. A medium draft breed characterized by an outstanding cream colored coat and an even, trustworthy disposition. For more info, contact the American Cream Draft Horse Association.

  2. Caspian

    One of the oldest and rarest breeds in the world, a small horse with exceptional driving (it was used as a chariot horse by the ancient kings of Persia) and jumping ability. For more information, see this page.

  3. Cleveland Bay

    A hardy, versatile, and friendly sport horse originating from Yorkshire, the population of Cleveland Bays was decimated by their uee as artillary horses in World War I and they re still rare today. Unimormly a handsome bay color. For more information, contact The Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America.

  4. Exmoor

    Descended from the wild native ponies of Britain, the Exmoor is an exceptionally hardy and sturdy little pony especially well-suited to cold climates and poor forage quality. For more information, contact Exmoor Pony Association International or Exmoor Enthusiasts

  5. Florida Cracker

    A small, agile gaited horse descended from horses brought to America by the Spanish conquistadors and traditionally used for working cattle in Florida. For more information, visit this page.

  6. Suffolk Punch

    One of the few draft breeds bred specifically for agricultural work rather than for use as chargers in medieval warfare, the Suffolk Punch was especially hard hit by the mechanization of agriculture. A handsome, bright chestnut horse, Suffolks are renowned for their easy, willing disposition, strength, hardiness, and great "heart." For more info, contact the American Suffolk Horse Association.

Exmoor Pony Video

Cleveland Bay Video

Threatened Breeds

Fewer than 1,000 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 5,000.

  1. Akhal-Teke

    One of the most unique horses in the world, the Akhal-Teke is an outstanding sport horse from the arid deserts of Turkmenistan. Akhal-Tekes hold the world record in endurance, a group of 15 having traveled 2600 miles in 84 days on a forced march from Ashkhabad to Moscow, including 3 days with no water at all while crossing the Kara-Kum desert. They are also famous for the unusual metallic sheen of their coats, but are prone to have difficult, "one-person" dispositions. For more info, contact the Akhal-Teke Association of America.

  2. Canadian

    Renowned for their strength, versatility, and easy-going disposition, Canadian horses are great family horses, ideally suited for pleasure riding, driving, farm and ranch work, and many other disciplines. Generally black in color. For more information, visit this page.

  3. Dales Pony/Fell Pony

    Two of the five native pony breeds of Britain, the Dales and Fell are exceptionally hardy and thrifty little ponies, well suited for driving and riding. For more information, contact the Dales Pony Society of North America or the Fell Pony Society.

  4. Dartmoor

    A sturdy, handsome riding pony with a friendly disposition. Generally dark in color, they are also good driving ponies. For more information, contact the Dartmoor Pony Registry of America or the British Dartmoor Pony Society.

  5. Hackney Horse

    Like the smaller and more common Hackney Pony, the Hackney Horse is a brilliant harness horse, with spectacular action, proud carriage, and an outstanding reputation for soundness. For more information, contact the American Hackney Horse Society.

  6. Lipizann

    Developed for royalty, the Lipizann is a breed of exceptional elegance and dignity. Almost uniformly a handsome grey color, Lipizanns are sturdy, powerful animals with an innate sense of rhythm that makes them especially well-suited to dressage and the arts of the haute école, for which they are famous. However, with their versatility and willing disposition, they are also commonly used for driving, pleasure riding, and even ranch work and the Western disciplines! For more information, contact the Lipizann Association of North America.

  7. Spanish Mustang

    Descended from horses brought to America by the Spanish conquistadores, Spanish Mustangs are an exceptionally hardy and intelligent breed with outstanding endurance. Although they have a wild animal's intolerance of abuse, they are extremely loyal when treated well. For more info, contact the Spanish Mustang Registry.

Akhal-Teke Video

Hackney Horse Video

Driving Horses

Since the car replaced horse-drawn carts and carriages as the primary means of transportation, some breeds developed as driving horses have declined greatly in number. Fortunately for them, pleasure driving is returning as a popular and relaxing hobby.

Lipizann Video

Watch Breeds

Fewer than 2,500 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 10,000. Also included are breeds that present genetic or numerical concerns or have a limited geographic distribution.

  1. Clydesdale

    A British draft breed made famous by Budweiser Beer, the Clydesdale is an especially handsome animal well-suited to driving, riding, and farm work. Clydesdales are exceptionally sound have have showier action than many of the other draft breeds. For more inof, contact Clydesdale Breeders of the USA.

  2. Gotland

    An ancient Swedish pony breed, Gotlands are hardy, athletic, and intelligent, used most commonly for driving and as children's mounts. For more information, contact the Gotland Russ Association of North America.

  3. Mountain Pleasure/Rocky Mountain Horse

    Mountain Pleasure and Rocky Mountain Horses are closely related gaited breeds that actually hail from the mountains of Appalachia. Somewhat variable in physical type, they are marked by their easy, comfortable gaits and calm, friendly dispositions. For more information, contact the Mountain Pleasure Horse Association or the Rocky mountain Horse Association.

  4. Shire

    The largest breed in the world, the powerful Shire was originally bred for use as a war horse by medieval knights. Later, it was used primarily for agricultural and draft work. Despite its massive size, the Shire is an exceptionally gentle animal and has good action. for more information, contact the American Shire Horse Association.

Clydesdale Video

Mountain Pleasure/Rocky Mountain Horse Video

Shire Video

Recovering Breeds

Breeds that were once listed in another category and have exceeded Watch category numbers but are still in need of monitoring.

  1. Belgian

    The most popular draft breed in America, the Belgian is an immensely powerful animal of gentle temperament and willing disposition. For more information, contact the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America.

  2. Friesian

    Originally a light draft or carriage horse, Friesians have experienced a renaissance in recent years due to their magnificent appearance, brilliant action, and excellent disposition. Versatile and willing, they are good pleasure or driving horses and are becoming increasingly familiar as dressage horses and jumpers. For more information, contact the Friesian Horse Association of North America or the Friesian Horse Society.

  3. Percheron

    A handsome, powerful heavy draft breed of French origin, with a calm, gentle disposition and willing nature. For more information, contact the Percheron Horse Association of America.

Farming with Horses

The populations of many draft horse breeds, like Belgians, Clydesdales, Suffolks, and Shires, declined dramatically when farmers began switching to mechanized tractors and other equipment. Fortunately for these now-rare breeds, farming with horses has undergone a revival in recent years.

Belgian, Percheron, and Clydesdale Video

Friesian Video


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    • knitstricken profile image


      6 years ago

      STELLAR lens! The work of the ALBC is so important. I'm actually afraid of horses, but I'm trying to get over it. You've put together a truly comprehensive and enjoyable resource here.

    • Mr-Panda LM profile image

      Mr-Panda LM 

      6 years ago

      This lens is so interesting! I love all of your photos and videos =)

    • Keepingscore profile image


      6 years ago

      A great lens!!! Very interesting!!!

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful lens about endangered horses. Well done :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I thought the endangered breeds would be ones I didn't hear of. But most surprize me! They are either so famous, or so beautiful! The Suffulk Punch! Clydesdale! Shire! What has the world come to??!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great info! I never would have thought a horse breed would be endangered.

    • EcoGecko LM profile image

      EcoGecko LM 

      7 years ago

      I wish more people would use the Dartmoor as a riding pony I started off on a Dartmoor and I hate what is happening to the unwanted ponies at the moment.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A fluttering of ghostly angel wings have passed on by and sent blessings your way :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Happy April Fool's Day! Gorgeous lens and a little Angel dust to boot...

    • Grandma-Marilyn profile image


      8 years ago

      I love horses and it is hard to think that somewhere along the line our children may not be able to see them. It just broke my heart when the people killed all the Clydesdales, both young and old.

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 

      8 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Very interesting to read about rare breeds of horses. I am featuring your excellent lens on mine about Lipizzans. Also lensrolled. Thanks!

    • Christene-S profile image


      8 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      Fascinating information about rare horse breeds!

    • delia-delia profile image


      8 years ago

      nice all the horse images of different breeds...I was not aware of these being endangered

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I really enjoy this lens.. thanks for sharing..

      Natural Horsemanship Training

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      9 years ago from Iowa

      Great lens. Many of the breeds I was familiar but there were a couple I had not heard of before. :) 5*

    • glynisd profile image


      9 years ago

      very nice article - I have a Dartmoor myself,and friends with Exmoors and Caspians (which are fascinating)! Loved the effort you put it. Welldone.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      9 years ago

      It is sad that there are so many endangered horses. They are such beautiful creatures.

    • blakesdad lm profile image

      blakesdad lm 

      9 years ago

      Awesome! Five stars!

    • EpicFarms profile image


      10 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens ~ I didn't realize some of those breeds were as low as they are (especially the Lipizzans). We have a Percheron on our "wish list" (maybe we need to wish harder :o) Thanks for sharing! Http:// and


    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      10 years ago

      We loved your 5* lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I lived in Florida for 25 years and never knew there was a breed of horse called the Florida Cracker.

    • Stinky LM profile image

      Stinky LM 

      10 years ago

      Very nice lens. Lots of beautiful pics and information. 5 stars!

      I just finished a lens on Wild Mustangs & Burros. If you have a chance, stop by.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great balance of text, photos, videos and products. You spent a lot of time on this and it didn't go unnoticed. Squid Angel *blessings* for you!

    • RPETRACEK LM profile image


      10 years ago

      Okay that is a lot of horse info! I didn't know a fraction of what you wrote about and that is the great purpose of lenses.

      Great job 5 starts and hope to review more of your stuff.

      I have done a few stop by and say hello and tell me what you think. Maybe inform some more people about them on this forum

      www.Ginormous Horse Network

      Anyway most excellent job!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I love this lens. Very educational my daughter is so excited to have learn about the list you have and gives her a whole new outlook on these breeds. Great work.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens with lovely images. I learned something today. I live in Nevada, and this year enough people have been cutting their horses loose that new releases have been found wandering around with mustang herds. People don't think they're doing any harm, but it seems to me that the "Spanish Mustangs" that have lived in the West for centuries are hardier and better able to survive in the desert. It irritates me to think that people set their horses bred for a gentler climate to fend for themselves, and also breed with the mustangs and weaken the genetics within that population. Mustangs have enough trouble with people!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      10 years ago from Vermont

      Beautiful lens. The Amish still farm with horse teams, and in NH and VT loggers use teams instead of machines to take wood from the forests. Lensrolled to my favorite horse training and boarding lens, Dobush Farms Horse Training of Vermont. 5*s.

    • kerri-jo profile image


      10 years ago

      arrg - I can't edit it - I have the photos linked under at the flickr link

      thanks! Kerri

    • kerri-jo profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Kerry - great lens - I was just at the endangered breeds weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park, amazing!!

      Any ways, I was hoping you could help me identify some ponies as I was really dumb and didn't write down what they were. They are at the flickr link at

      any help is appreciated! Thanks, Kerri

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      This is an absolutely wonderful & comprensive lense, you have clearly done your homework !

      You even have a photo of our stallions sire ;)

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      10 years ago

      Beautiful lens! My exposure is limited to the little pony we had when I was a child. It was too old to even ride.

      5* and favored.


    • jemsley lm profile image

      jemsley lm 

      10 years ago

      Really great lens! You've put some much needed focus to some beautiful horse breeds.

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 

      10 years ago

      My dream is to find a Shire someday. I have been in love with those gentle giants for as long as I can remember. I have a very old Morgan gelding right now, but when he finally passes, I'm going to seek out a Shire. Thank you for this wonderful lens!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Thanks for the post, very informative and an interesting read.

    • AllHorses LM profile image

      AllHorses LM 

      11 years ago

      Wow, what a great lens!

      Check out the All Horses group, you may want to add your lens to it. :)

      (Click on: Add an existing lens)

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      11 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      WOW!!! I LOVE THIS LENS!!! I've already given you 5 stars in one of your other lenses but I'm giving you 5* here too! You can be proud of this one!!!!!!!

    • rwoman profile image


      11 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Please add your link to my "horse" link plex at

    • kathysart profile image


      11 years ago

      Aren't horses just so beautiful! Great lens! 5 stars!

      Unlock Creativity|Critical Thinking Creative Writing Active Reading=Great Art

      Aloha, Kathy

    • Barkely profile image


      11 years ago

      Very nice lens. It's so sad to see, I think it's happening in all domesticated animals (and wild). They fall prey to what's "popular" in our culture. We need to pay more attention to the Earth, our history, nature and the legacy we're leaving.

    • JohannDog profile image

      Johann The Dog 

      11 years ago from Northeast Georgia

      Nice lens!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Horses, and horses, and horses, oh MY! Your lens is eye candy for a horse lover like me! 5*

    • kerri-jo profile image


      11 years ago

      Great lens! They are all great breeds and my favourite are the Akhal-Tekes!

    • Classic LM profile image

      Classic LM 

      11 years ago

      Hi This is an excellent lens! Highly informative and beautiful, as well as interesting. Please feel free to submit your lens(es) to my group Nature and Environment!I voted 5*s for you!

    • Lady Gotrocks profile image

      Lady Gotrocks 

      11 years ago

      Excellent lens! 5 stars!

      See my gem store

      Comprehensive Guide to buying Alexandrite gems


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