Sorraia Horses Nearly Extinct

By: admin on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 | No Comments
Posted in: Sorraia, Uncategorized
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The Sorraia horses for sale are nearly extinct. A few herds are maintained in a half dozen places in Spain and a few in Germany. The Sorraia Horse has no history as a domestic breed, but old documents show that these horses were brought to the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors.
The Sorraia coloring is always dun or grullo with a dark muzzle area, black dorsal stripe, black-tipped ears, usually zebra stripes on the legs, and occasionally a stripe across the shoulders, neck and back. The black mane and tail are fringed by lighter-colored hair. Sorraia foals are born with a zebra-like pattern all over. Sorraia blood in the Americas is evident, as several breeds in both North and South America bear the dun and grullo coloration and other physical characteristics of this ancient horse.

The Sorraia generally stands at about14 hands high. Domesticated Sorraias have been broken to ride and used for herding livestock. The Sorraia is noted for its ability to withstand extremes of climate, particularly dry, hot climates, and to survive on very little forage while at the same time maintaining its health. The Sorraia is too long-legged  to be seriously considered a pony type.

Their head is somewhat long, with an outcurved profile. The ears are long, the eyes are set high. The neck is long and slim, the withers are prominent and noticeably well defined; the back is of medium length and straight; the croup is sloping, but not steeply dropping.  The legs are straight with rather long, round cannon bones, well defined tendons, long, sloped pasterns, and hard hooves of dark color.    The Sorraia is found portrayed faithfully in prehistoric cave art, displaying the classic Iberian convex profile, also found in the old-time North African Barb. When the Portuguese scientist, Ruy D’ Andrade, discovered these horses in 1920 in the lowlands of the Portuguese River Sorraia, few could believe that a wild horse subspecies could have survived that long in Europe. Scientist Ruy D’ Andrade tried in vain to relocate the herd, but found horses of the same phenotype in several places in the general area of the Sorraia river.

As a zoologist and paleontologist, he finally decided he had stumbled on an ancestral type of horse, and that it needed to be preserved. He acquired seven mares that possessed the characteristics he considered typical according to his studies, and left them to fend for themselves on his property, which fortunately was large enough for such a project. He tried four different stallions on them. His theory was that living wild, without the help of man, in their own habitat, would result in Mother Nature’s purifying the small population, and bringing out and consolidating their original characteristics and abilities.

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