Estonian Sport Horse

The breeding goal of the Estonian Sport Horse is to get highly capable horses that are good for equine sports, both in terms of physiology and psychology. The minimum required wither height of the Estonian Sport Horse is 160 cm. Its breeding is based on the genetic components of horses that are registered as Estonian Sport Horses, full blooded and warm blooded horses that are kept in Estonia, and crossbreeds of the previous, if certain conditions are met.

The Estonian Sport Horse is rather similar to other European sport breeds, both in terms of breeding principles and genetic make-up. It has even been suggested that all European sport horses now form a single breed whose breeding goal is a high level of sporting achievement. Many European sport horse breeding programmes are liberal in their principles – compared to the breeding programmes of older breeds – and welcome all advantageous genetic components, be they from an Akhal-Teke, an English or Arabian fullblood, a Russian Trakehner or any other breed. Because this is how many sport horse breeders look at breeding, both in Estonia and elsewhere, there are actually no distinguishing features that make the Estonian (or any other) Sport Horse easy recognisable. The only criterion for judging the success of breeding is the sum of sporting achievements.

Because the function of the horse in human society has changed so much in the last 160 years (which is roughly the age of the Tori Stud), many older horse breeds have had to change their breeding goals but have nevertheless lost much of their importance to people. With the Estonian Sport Horse, there is no such worry. Equestrian sports are still popular and demand for good sport horses is high. It’s worth noting in this context that even though the Estonian Sport Horse breed is only a few decades old, it is now one of the most common breeds in Estonia, second only to the beloved aboriginal Estonian Native horse.

Estonian Riding Pony and Estonian Mini Pony

The Estonian Riding Pony and the Estonian Mini Pony are newer Estonian horse breeds that are based on the Estonian Native horse, as Estonian breeds always are. Their breeding has now reached a stage, however, where only Estonian Native mares are used while the stallions come from abroad.

The breeding goal of the Estonian Riding Pony is similar to that of the Estonian Sport Horse, i.e. to get horses with a great capability for sporting achievement in pony sports. At the same time they want the Estonian Riding Pony to be a good trekker and a lovely pet for children. All ponies and pony-sized horses are welcomed in the breeding, but the recommendation is to use Connemara, New Forest, and Welsh Ponies, and German, French, and Dutch Riding Ponies. The required wither height of the Estonian Riding Pony is 148 cm or less.

estonian riding pony
Sweet Dreams, an Estonian Riding Pony gelding (photo by Eeva Vahtras)

For the Estonian Mini Pony, the breeding goal is to get cute and friendly pets for children. As is usual for Estonian breeds, the primary component for the Estonian Mini Pony is the Estonian Native horse, which is crossed with Shetland and Welsh Ponies in main. The wither height of the Estonian Mini Pony is 120 cm or less.

The Estonian ponies – both the Riding Pony and the Mini Pony – must be eager to work, calm, trusting, and friendly. The most valuable breeding animals are calm and balanced in temperament, but also lively as is proper for descendants of the Estonian Native. For the Mini Pony whose primary job is to be a pet for children, being friendly and calm is obviously especially important.


Written by Kristjan Korsten, the creator and editor of Estonian-Horses.com. Sources: The Estonian Sport Horse Breeders’ Association, the Estonian Food and Veterinary Office, the newspapers “Maaleht” and “Postimees”, Wikipedia, etc. Last updated in December 2017