About animals

Estonian horse - Estonian horse


Author: Julia SERKOVA
Magazine number: GM No. 1 (137) / 2014

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The Estonian horse is quite small, with a size of 14.3 arms (59 inches, 150 cm) at the withers. It is strong but not overweight. The most common colors are black, laurel, chestnut, and gray .The breed is a tireless and powerful puller, and well suited for agricultural work with its light temperament. This contributed to the use of the breed in a children's riding horse, one of the main reasons why the breed was able to survive.

Most breeders let their herds live in the natural environment of pastures, except in winter, and the breed lives well on food alone. This made the breed healthy and durable with firm legs. Their appearance is not exceptional. The head is small with a straight profile and primitive features. The breed is ready and easy to handle, inexpensive to hold and often long-lived. The breed is currently used for tourist trips. Finland has a pedigree association for an Estonian horse.


The Estonian horse is descended from a primitive forest horse, which lived in Northern Europe more than 5000 years ago, and is considered the ancestor of other breeds, such as the North Swedish horse and Dole Gudbrandsdal. The Estonian Horse has retained its qualities and looks due to the small influence from other horse breeds. However, it is believed that the breed became mixed with the extinct Oland Horse, as a large number of Eland Horses were exported to Estonia at one point. Tests of authorized associations on the Öland horse have shown that these two breeds have a genetically similar background. During the 11th century, a traveler known as Adam of Bremen considered Estonians to be rich in gold and good horses.

The breed has become popular throughout the Baltic countries for its strength and suitability for work on the farm. Horses of this breed were sold in Russia in the 14th and 15th centuries. they were also imported to Sweden for military needs. The development of agriculture has made good workhorses even more desirable, and many Estonian horses have been crossed with heavier project horses to create stronger animals.

The first documents regarding attempts to improve the Estonian horse from the founding of the Tori spike in 1856. The breed was then crossed with lighter work horses and horse breeds. The best offspring as a result of these attempts became the basis of the Tory horse. One of the most successful manufacturers, Vansikasa, was born on a hairpin. He became well known for his exceptional strength, attracting skill and Indomitability, and one of his daughters was the founder of a Tory horse mare. Even the Vyatka horse is influenced by an Estonian horse.

After World War I, a breeding program was created to help preserve the breed, the number of which decreased quite a lot during the war. The Estonian Native Horse Breeders Society and the Estonian horse pedigree were founded in 1921. By 1937, only 13 stallions were used and the Estonian horse became inbred due to lack of strains. This led to horses reaching maturity later, and breed development slowed down. With the mechanization of transport and agriculture, the horses became obsolete and the breed almost died out, with the exception of the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. With several animals left on the mainland, the breed was eventually resurrected using the new breeding program, and the population of the breed has now reached about 1000 animals in Estonia. The breed was recently crossed with a Finnish horse to increase its size, but it should be noted that both of these breeds were descended from a forest horse.

In 1992, the Association started anew after being down during the 1980s. In 2000, an association was created to preserve the breed. In 2005, 25 animals of this breed were imported to Sweden to recreate a genetically closely related, extinct Eland horse. The new Eland horse is not called that, however, but is “Bush Pony of Estonia”.