Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Sorraia   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Sorraia is an Iberian horse breed that originated in Portugal. It is known for its iconic grullo coat, and is named after the Sorraia River.

The ancestors of the Sorraia are Tarpan horses who roamed Europe for centuries, before their extinction in the 19th century. Sorraia horses already roamed Portugal in the 15th century, and many of them were domesticated and taken to the New World by Columbus and the Spanish conquistadores in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Sorraia Mustang is a descendant of these horses (see the 'Sorraia Mustang' for more information.)

The preservation of the Sorraia is credited to Dr. Ruy d'Andrade, who discovered a herd of Sorraia horses in 1920. The uniform conformation and coloration of these horses attracted his attention, because they resembled the traits he saw among Andalusian foals. He postulated that these horses might be related to, or even the ancestors of, the Andalusian, and decided to study them further.

A decade later, in the 1930s, he managed to purchase several horses with the same characteristics, and named the unique breed 'Sorraia' after the river which runs in the region from where he bought his herd. As time went on, the Sorraia became rarer in Portugal, and the breed survived thanks to the efforts of Dr. d'Andrade and his son. Today, there are several conservation projects dedicated to the preservation of the Sorraia.

The conformation of the Sorraia is an iconic one, which is characterized by a long and narrow head with a convex profile, long ears, and (often) small high-set eyes, a long and thin ewe-neck, prominent withers, a very sloping croup, long and thin legs, smallish hooves, and a narrow body. In addition, the hips of Sorraia horses, particularly of the mares, often protrude to the sides. This trait is not found in Horse Isle though. The manes and tails of Sorraia horses are medium or long in length, and the legs are clean from feathering.

Sorraia horses are either grullo or dun in color, with the latter being extremely rare. White markings are not found in the purebred individuals of this breed, and are therefore not found among Sorraias in Horse Isle. Sorraia horses usually stand between 14hh and 14.2hh, but the full height range of this breed is 13.3hh to 14.3hh.

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