The Miniature Horse of Rhodes

All horse species belong to the EquusCavallusCavallus sub-species. They first appeared fifty four million years ago, after the dinosaurs’ extinction.

Approximately ten thousand years ago, mankind domesticated the existing four species of horses. They were the size of a small dog and lived in forests. After the last ice age, approximately ten thousand years ago, there were four species of horses.

Mankind domesticated these species creating the breeds we all know today.  Two of these original species are believed to be the ancestors of the Rhodian horse.  This miniature horse is the vestige of an enormous family, extensively spread throughout Greece hinterland, the islands of the Aegean and the shores of Asia Minor, all the way to the Caspian Sea and North Africa. 

The reason for this extensive geographicspread was the horse’s good character, great stamina and minimal nutritional needs.  Greeks depended on this miniature horse for all their tasks; from ploughing and transport to games and feats. Two hundred years ago, every family on the island owned at least one miniature horse.  In 1975, the horse population numbered approximately sixty; today, only eight remain.

The breed of miniature horses of Rhodes, and the miniature horses of Skyros, considered to be their ‘cousins’, are among the smallest in the world.  What makes them special and unique is the fact that their small size is the result of their natural evolution and not of human intervention.  The coat color is deep bay and reddish-brown and some horses have white marks on their forehead.

Today, the few remaining horses live in a controlled reproduction area with modern facilities in the region Archangelos.  There is also an area covering approximately five hectares (five thousand square meters) for them to run in as well as an area covering four hectares (four thousand square meters) where alfalfa is grown for their diet.

The members of ‘O Phaethon’, an Association for the Protection of these miniature horses, have become their everyday guards and caretakers.  The miniature horses have become part of the cultural tradition of the islands. This is why all Rhodians and island organizations have embraced the miniature horse with love, interest and affection.

Faethon Miniature Horses Farm – Archangelos

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