Northern Horse (Nordic) – Equus Gracilis

by | Jul 20, 2018 | Horse Breeds - Equine Groups of Origins

These horses are of smaller build and because of this fact, are often referred to as ponies. This, of course, doesn’t quite coincide with the description of the northern horse. The Nordic horse cropped up fairly suddenly as domesticated in prehistoric times, not only in Northern Europe, but in the southern and central parts of the continent as well. Due to the fact the skeletons of these horses were excavated in areas occupied by Gauls in medieval era, Ewart named this group of Nordic horses “Celtic Pony”. G. J. Caesar mentioned these horses in his writings about the Gaul Wars, in which he expressed his amazement at the size of the horses that the Brits were breeding and even began using in war-wagons/chariots.

Antonius considered this wild form of the horse as the Nordic group of a smaller Pliocene horse Equus Gracilis Ewart. Stegman considered the Nordic ponies as a smaller branch of the western horse, which he commonly called the “mountain horse”. Hilzheimer assumed that a small form of the western horse lived in the Diluvium simultaneously with kertag, tarpan and the larger form of the western horse. It was only in the last ice age that the steppes overgrew with forests and as a consequence, this smaller horse was pushed out into the mountains. Whether this form of horse is a mixture of tarpan or kertag with the western horse or a simple dwarfed version of the western horse cannot be proven. This is due to the fact that the chronological analysis of the diluvium horse is not overly convincing. From the chronological perspective, there was simply not enough research done concerning this northern horse and as a result, the phylogeny of the characteristic Nordic group of horses is the least conclusive. The possibility is not excluded that these horses may be a “crossbreed” between kertag and tarpan or a kertag and some dwarfed version of the western horse.

The oldest form of these horses today are represented in the Exmoor Pony and the Shetland pony.


Northern Horse (Nordic) - Equus Gracilis

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