August 23, 2008 | | Comments 0

Sorraia Horses

Sorraia Horses

Sorraia Horses

Finding the Truth Behind Sorraia Horses

Today, only one horse breed is considered truly wild. That is the Mongolian wild horses known as the Przewalski. Others argue however that at least one other horse breed should receive the distinction of being a wild breed as well. Indeed, by all appearances, the Sorraia horses seem like a true wild horse breed. They are however generally considered simply as the last few remaining members of an old wild Iberian horse breed that had been in the continent since prehistoric times.

In reality though, Sorraia horses have never been largely bred or influenced by human intervention. This is despite the fact that there is evidence of Sorraia influence on North American breeds. This points to the probability that Sorraias were brought to America by the Spanish conquistadors. In general though Sorraia herds have mostly been on their own and officially undiscovered until 1920, when Ruy D’Andrade, a noted horse expert and zoologist on a hunting trip, accidentally stumbled on a herd of unique horses. Although they looked similar to other Iberian horse breeds, they were clearly undomesticated. D’Andrade took some of the horses and named them after the river where they were found.

It was after D’Andrade’s discovery that speculations and debates began to boil over the discovered breed. D’Andrade believed that the Sorraia horses are the real ancestors of the Andalusian and Lusitano breeds. A number of expert sources continue to believe so. This is because the Sorraia influence seems to be evident in the other Iberian breeds. It has since been discovered through scientific testing though that the Sorraia breed has distinct DNA from the other breeds, thereby proving that the Sorraia is indeed a distinct breed.

Scientific DNA studies have also put to rest the other long-standing controversy over D’Andrade’s discovery. Those who oppose the theories of D’Andrade claim that the scientist simply selected grullo and dun colored horses and that D’Andrade simply made a hasty conclusion about the distinctness of the Sorraia based on the breeding of color traits alone. As mentioned however, DNA testing of the Sorraia horses has proven them distinct from other Iberian breeds and is therefore not a mere color breed.

Aside from their grullo and dun coat colors, Sorraia horses also pass down other traits to their offspring. Because they have been in the wild for a very long time, Sorraia horses are very hardy and adaptable, surviving in difficult weather conditions and in times of food scarcity. Sorraias stand at around 14 hands. Their small stature is likely a result of the natural adjustment to harsh conditions. Although they thrive well in the wild, it is not impossible to capture and develop Sorraia horses into riding horses.

Today, the debate over Sorraia horses continues. One thing is certain though, while experts argue over the Sorraia, their numbers are slowly dwindling. They are considered a very rare breed. It is perhaps about time for human intervention to help save this beautiful Iberian horse breed. There are already some individuals and groups working to promote this breed.

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