20 African Horse Breeds

African Horse Breeds
Photo by Violeta Pencheva

African horses are some of the world’s most graceful and elegant breeds. And they have been famous throughout history.

Many African horse breeds are prevalent because of their appearance. As well as their outstanding performance on the track or in other competitions such as endurance riding or dressage.

There are so many African horse breeds to choose from, but there are ten that stand out above the rest.

1. Abyssinian 

The Abyssinian is a breed of horse that was developed in England from horses imported from Africa. And they are now considered to be one of many national African horse breeds.

It is an active, spirited, and powerful horse with a long mane and tail. The body is compact and well-muscled, and the head is of medium length with a straight or slightly convex profile. The legs are clean and strong, with broad flat bones.

However, they are not as refined as those of Thoroughbreds. The coat is short and fine, but it can also be spotted.

The average height at maturity for males ranges from 14–15 hands (56–60 inches, 142–152 cm), while females range from 131⁄2–141⁄2 hands (54–57 inches, 137–145 cm). 

Nonetheless, the American Cream Draft as African Horse breeds: This draft type originated in North America when crossbreeding Clydesdale stallions with Quarter Horses mares produced offspring taller than both parents.

2. Poney du Logone  

The Poney du Logone, or simply Poney, is an African horse breed of light draft. It originated in Cameroon, traditionally used for farming and transport.

The breed was created by crossbreeding local ponies with Barb horses imported from France between 1885 and 1905. 

Therefore, the first stud book was published in 1918, but numbers declined during World War II and its aftermath. From 1970 there were only about 200 remainings, but numbers have recovered since then to 1000 as of 2005.

3. Bahr-El-Ghazal

The Bahr-El-Ghazal is a breed of horse found in Africa, and they are considered one of four powerful bloodlines of all Equine species.

These African horse breeds have been around for over five thousand years and are considered one of five foundation breeds. 

Nevertheless, they have a compact, long, muscular body, with stiff legs, a large head, a broad forehead, and alert ears. Their coat colors are often bay or chestnut or even gray.

4. Boerperd 

The Boerperd is a large, heavy horse breed from South Africa that was developed for use as a saddle horse. The word Boerperd means farmer’s horse in Africa.

These African horse breeds tend to have heavy bones and a sturdy frame, with an average height of 16 hands high.

Moreover, It is often used as an all-purpose horse, but it is particularly well-suited for use in bush farming or trekking. The Boerperd has some unique genetic traits, including pinto patterns; however, solid-color horses are more common in South Africa.

Although it was once widely used by farmers and ranchers throughout Southern Africa. Fewer than 200 purebred animals remain due to disease and habitat loss during Apartheid.

5. Fouta 

The Fouta is a breed of light riding horse from Africa. It was bred from imported stock in Senegal and is commonly used for local transportation, general riding, and endurance riding.

These African horse breeds can be of any color and are often crossbred with Quarter Horses to produce additional strength and stamina. Especially as pack horses, they stand an average of 13-14 hands high.

Although, the Foutas are recognized for their high withers and arched necks, and both are essential aspects for carrying weight comfortably over a long distance, as well as their athleticism.

In addition to being strong, these horses have been known to reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour. When in competition over short distances.

6. M’bayar 

The M’bayar or Mabaya are African horse breeds from Senegal, considered one of several autochthonous horse breeds in West Africa. It is an all-purpose breed developed in isolation over centuries and differs from European types imported for breeding. 

Meanwhile, the M’bayar is a small but strong animal suitable for agricultural work, riding, and pack transport. It has also been exported to other parts of Africa for crossbreeding purposes.

7. Nooitgedachter 

The Nooitgedachter is a breed of horse indigenous to South Africa. The Nooitgedacht is an ancient African horse breed popular with farmers and stockmen until recently.

When it began to be supplanted by other species from Europe. The breed suffered greatly during World War II when the breeding stock was requisitioned for use by the military. Because of its strong constitution and hardiness, it managed to survive after its numbers fell dramatically. 

In addition, Its popularity has declined in favor of more fashionable foreign breeds, so much so that a few years ago.

There were only about 1 000 registered animals in South Africa. Although some farmers and ranchers still keep them as working animals on farms. They are rarely used for riding or showing horses.

8. Hamdani 

The Hamdani horse is one of Africa’s earliest domestic horses, originally bred and used by Berber tribes in North Africa. This African horse breed was developed in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia over the centuries. 

Although it was never a large breed, being a relatively small stocky animal with short legs and head. It has been found as far away as Britain and Portugal as a cavalry mount. They have also been described as small but fiery.

Moreover, It is believed that they were crossed with Barb horses to improve their size later in history. However, others say they are entirely different from African horse breeds.

9. Poney du Logone 

The Poney du Logone, or PDL, more commonly known, is a small but popular African horse breed originating in Cameroon. The name means ‘Logone pony,’ as they were initially bred in West Africa.

Originally used for labor and riding by local populations, they have gained popularity elsewhere thanks to their gentle nature and relatively even temperament.

However, they are miniature ponies standing no more than 14 hands high and weighing less than 350 pounds. Their coat is usually dark bay or brown with white markings on their faces, legs, and manes.

Their head features a straight profile with a large Roman nose. They are calm but energetic and easygoing, making them suitable for experienced and beginner riders.

10. Fleuve

Fleuve is a French word for river and refers to large rivers in Africa. Its horses are of medium build and are considered excellent riding horses. They may also be used as workhorses, but not for heavy work as they lack stamina. 

In contrast, they tend to be easygoing African horse breeds and affectionate towards their owners but wary of strangers. Despite their stature, fleuve horses can move at a fast trot when required, and some even exhibit a high jump. 

These horse foals may have markings that fade with time or turn pale brown or grey in adulthood. However, some outstanding fleuve foals still have dark spots on darker bodies that remain permanently into adulthood. Some fleuves have zebra-like stripes over their shoulders or across their faces.

11. Dongola 

Dongola is an African horse breed from East Africa. The Dongola is found primarily in Kenya, although numbers exist in Tanzania and Uganda.

It’s usually brown with a white blaze on its face and a distinctive dorsal stripe running down its back. Not to be confused with any other Kenyan horse. 

Notably, It was initially called the Luhya Native by white settlers in Kenya, and it was not until after independence that they were renamed Dongola to their native name.

The lines of purebred Dongolas are small, and nomadic peoples own all. Who let them out to graze for most of the year before bringing them home for stud service.

12. Basotho Pony  

Basotho Pony is a mountain-bred, ridgeless horse that originated in Lesotho. It is known for its bravery and intelligence, as well as its speed and endurance on rocky terrain.

The Basotho Pony has a height of about 12 hands (48 inches) at full maturity. The primary coat color is chestnut brown with white stripes down its legs and spine.

Meanwhile, Its head is usually black or dark brown, and its mane and tail are long and thick. Its eyes are large, round, bright, and alert; they are set far apart to give it excellent peripheral vision.

Although it was bred for mountainous conditions in Africa, today, it can be found all over South Africa, where it is used as a riding horse or pack animal by farmers who live in hilly areas.

13. Western Sudan Pony 

The western Sudan ponistre rare African horse breeds and endangered breeds of horses that originated in West Africa.

It is a sturdy, hardy animal that has adapted to survive in harsh climatic conditions and sparse rangeland, initially bred by nomadic tribes. They are now kept mainly as working horses on farms or used as trekking or recreational mounts.

Also, they are crossed with other breeds to produce mules as pack animals. They have a reputation for being good-natured and easy keepers.

14. Ardennais  

The Ardennais breed is one of three French-Belgian draft African horse breeds developed in northern France and southern Belgium.

The Ardennais is a heavy horse that stands between 16 hands and 17 hands high. These horses are muscular with long legs, a deep chest, broad shoulders, and well-muscled hindquarters, giving them great power as pullers.

Similarly, their heads are relatively small, have wide nostrils, and have strong jaws. Their manes and tails tend to be thick, wavy, or curly. The coat color can be gray, bay with black points, or brown roan with lighter moments.

Although, they may also have white markings on their faces or underbellies. Ardennais horses generally stand between 16 hands 2 inches (52 centimeters) and 17 hands (58 centimeters) tall at maturity.

15. Barbs 

South Africa is home to several horse breeds, some native and some imported. The Barbs are among these breeds that have become popular for leisure riding, show jumping, and racing.

English breeders developed the African horse breed in South Africa, and today is considered one of South Africa’s most prestigious sports horses. 

Moreover, they are generally 15 hands high with a strong body and powerful hindquarters. Their head is well-proportioned with large eyes, ears set on high, and a straight profile.

16. The Zulu Pony

The Zulu Pony originated from Natal in South Africa. On the other hand, they were bred from Arabian stallions brought over during colonial times.

These ponies generally stand between 13-14 hands high. However, depending on their breeding history, they can be smaller or larger than that range.

17. Vlaamperd 

The Vlaamperd is a light horse breed of Flemish origin. Due to its good temperament, it is known as the gentleman among horses. It is similar to small thoroughbreds and has an attractive head with large eyes. 

In addition, these high-stepping African horse breeds have delicate features and usually stand more than 14 hands high. The Vlaamperd is ideal for riding and jumping, though it may sometimes be challenging to control due to its high spirit.

18. Tawleed  

Tawleed is a large-sized South African domestic horse breed of Arabian and Anglo-Arabian ancestry. The Tawleed originated from crossbreeding between Arabians and Cape Horses in 1687 by Jan van Riebeeck at Robben Island, a famous prison island near Cape Town, South Africa. The word Tawleed means together in Arabic. 

This is to say, the Tawleed was used for centuries as a working horse for transportation on farms. But also as all-purpose riding African horse breeds. It is used for endurance riding competitions and other equestrian sports, such as show jumping.

19. Bashkir Curly 

The Bashkir Curly was discovered in 184 when a man bought a curly stallion from a herd of wild horses. The horse soon became famous and played an essential role in research on equine DNA.

The first Bashkir Curly arrived in Britain around 1900, where it remains popular today. Whereas the same is true for Australia, Germany, and Sweden.

However, they were never as widespread or influential as they were in Britain. If you’re looking for fast African horse breeds, then the Bashkir Curly might be just what you’re looking for.

These horses are quick to trot, but they also have remarkable endurance capabilities that allow them to keep going all day long if necessary.

20. Budyonny  

Possibly one of the most popular African horse breeds, Budyonny horses originate from Russia and have a very sleek appearance.

They’re known for their athleticism, and many competitive riders choose to use them. The breed is well-known for its temperament, as it does not display aggression or ill temper even when provoked.

These horses are pretty friendly and easy to handle by beginners. However, they require regular exercise to stay healthy and fit.


In conclusion, although it may not be immediately apparent, each of these breeds is distinctive in its own right.

There is certainly a lot to learn about each species, and hopefully. You’ve gathered some good information from the information we’ve provided above. 

Also, with that, we hope you are well on your way in your quest to find an ideal African horse breed! If you have any questions or concerns, please comment below.

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