The Rhodian Pony, or miniature horse of Rhodes, is the endangered species of horses found on Rhodes Island. The Phaethon association started the efforts of saving the breed back in 2001 and they succeeded in the collection of these little horses and putting them in stables. They did all of these to ensure their survival and sensitize the local people regarding their predicament. Although people calling them ponies, they are horses and don’t really have the usual traits of ponies aside from their notable tiny size.
This breed of Rhodes’ miniature horses and their deemed cousins, Skyros’ miniature horses, are regarded as among the tiniest that exist in the whole world. A fact about Rhodes you may didn’t know…! Why are these horses unique and special? This is because their notable small size is due natural evolution instead of intervention from humans. They have coat color of deep reddish-brown or bay and others even have marks of white color on the forehead.
All species of horses belong to the sub-species Equus Caballus Caballus. The miniature horse of Rhodes is not an exception. It was 54 million years ago when they appeared for the first time, soon after the extinction of dinosaurs.
Their size was similar to that of small dogs and the forests served as their place of habitat. About 10,000 years ago, after the final ice age, four horse species remained. Humans domesticated the four species that created the breeds that people come to know in the present day. Two of the original species have been assumed as the ancestors of the miniature horse of Rhodes.
The Rhodian pony has been the remnant of a large family scattered all over the locality of Greece. As well as the shires of Asia Minor, the Aegean islands to North Africa and Caspian Sea. This extensive geographic spread was due to their good character, minimal needs for nutrition and great stamina of the horse.
The Rhodians depended on the miniature horses for different tasks, ranging from transport and ploughing and feasts and games. A couple of hundred years ago, all families on the island had a single miniature horse of Rhodes at the least. When 1975 came, the population of these horses numbered to just 60. Today, just a few of them remain.
The height of these horses is around 110cm and not like most of the small horse breeds. The Rhodian ponies have an elegant, with the harmonious proportions resembling the large horses’ shape. These horses ears of medium size, intelligent large eyes, muscular and strong legs and neck, rich and dense mane, and very thick tail that reach close to the ground.
Right now, the few miniature horses of Rhodes that remain are living in the controlled area of reproduction in Archangelos region complete with state of the art facilities. Another area covers around 5 acres where they can run in and another area of 4 acres is where alfalfa gets cultivated for the diet of the Rhodian ponies. A visit to their place is one of the best things to do in Rhodes island.