The Estonian Native Horse is a truly unique breed; it is the last of the horse breeds which once roamed the forests of Northern Russia. This historical breed was almost lost; at one point its numbers dipped below 1,000, but thanks to breeders dedicated to its preservation, the Estonian Native Horse’s numbers have increased.
More than 5,000 years ago, wild horses roamed the forests of Northern Russia. The Estonian Native Horse evolved from those wild horses, and despite the thousands of years that have passed, its bloodlines have not been affected by many outside breeds.
Estonian Native Horses were used for farm work during the 1300s and 1400s, and were exported to Russia and Sweden where they served as work and war horses. Some horses were bred with drafts to produce heavier work horses, and some of them were bred with lighter horses to produce mounts more favorable for riding.
The early 1920s brought about the creation of the Estonian Native Horse Breeders Society and the Estonian Native Horse studbook, intended to preserve the bloodlines of the breed. The Estonian Native Horse teetered on the brink of extinction; with only 13 horses being registered for breeding by the 1930s, the breed’s numbers were low and the occurrence of inbreeding was high.
Thankfully breed enthusiasts came to the rescue and the Estonian Native Horse’s numbers climbed back up to the 1,000 mark. The Estonian Native Horse is popular in Estonia today, and the breed on a whole is making a comeback.
Despite the influence of both heavy and light breeds, today’s Estonian Native Horse has retained much of the appearance that the original native forest horses of Northern Russia. The Estonian Native Horse stands between 13 and 14.5 hands high and typically weighs around 1,000 pounds.
The Estonian Native Horse features a deep chest, relatively short legs, and a somewhat unrefined head. Common coat colors include bay, chestnut, grey, and dun. The Estonian Horse is developed for survival, sporting strong hooves and excellent endurance. The breed is incredibly strong and can pull heavy weights, making it an asset to working farms.
The Breed Today
Estonian Native Horses today are popular as working horses in Estonia, a small county in Northern Europe. Estonian Native Horses pull carts and buggies, work farmland, and also make popular riding mounts. Additionally, Estonian Native Horses have recently begun to emerge as showjumping and even racing competitors, known for their endurance and remarkable strength.
The Estonian Native Horse carries with it a long history dating back more than 5,000 years. These hardy horses, built for survival, might not be in existence today were it not for the work of horsemen dedicated to the breed.
Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonian_horse