Namib Desert Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Namib desert horse is an equine type known as a feral horse or undomesticated horse that is seen in the Namib desert. In entire Africa, this is the only feral herd that can be found. This desert horse is strong and has the ability to survive in the harsh environment of the desert.

People believe that these horses had German origins and congregated in the Garub plains in Namibia. They now live in what forms the Namib-Naukult park. 

They are considered an exotic species of horse breeds and have become a tourist attraction. 

Namib Desert Horse


There are no South African native horses and hence there is a theory that this breed of horses originated from imported horses. There are different theories about the origin of this horse. One theory says that a cargo ship crashed near the Orange river and the horses in the ship escaped in the desert. It is most likely that this horse entered Namibia during the first World war. 

The German Schutztruppe and the South African troops used cavalry horses and it is believed these horses escaped in the desert. Genetic tests indicate that these horses resemble horses bred by a German Baron named Von Wolf. He died during the farm and the horses on his farm were abandoned.

A stud farm near Kubub was leased by a German named Emil Kreplin. It is said that the European horses he had mixed with the army horses that had escaped and assembled at a water source in Aus mountains. An employee of a diamond mine Jan Coetzer is believed to have saved this breed of wild horses from extinction in 1980. 

The place where these horses stayed was included in Namib-Naukulft Park. Many attempts were made to relocate and domesticate the horse but they failed. The estimates of the horse populations are around 90 to 150 at present. The horses are now protected by the Namibia wild horse foundation.


The key characteristic of this horse is it adaptability. It has adapted itself to desert life thanks to its over 100 years of existence in the desert. They conserve energy during the time of drought and they enter a leisure mode when it rains. This is how the horses do well even during drought years.

They are athletic horses that are very muscular. 


The Namib desert horse lives near the source of food and water. They stay close to waterholes in the desert. These horses usually graze at night in the vegetation found near the water sources. One of the interesting Namib desert horse facts is that the horse eats pieces of its own dung to get nutrients.


The Namib desert horse is a tall horse that is very strong. The size of the horse varies. Since it is a wild horse, there is no data regarding its size and height.

Breeding And Uses

The Namib desert horse is not bred and the wild horses that originated continue to live in the desert near the Garub. There were many attempts made to domesticate these horses but they failed. Many of them that were shifted to new locations died, while others did not adjust to the new habitat and had to be released.

This horse is not bred and is not used by humans. It roams freely in the desert and has become an important tourist attraction. 

Breeds Constituting the Namib desert Horse? 

It is not very clear how the Namib desert horse originated. According to some theories, the cavalry horses used in the South African army and the German riding horses were the breeds from which this horse originated. 

There are also theories are German thoroughbred horses escaped from a cargo ship and they are the ancestors of this horse. Other theories state that the Cape horse and the Basuto pony breeds make up this horse.


The horses are predominantly chestnut colored or are brown. Horses with bay color are also found. Some of these horses can be seen with dorsal stripes. It is even possible to see grey horses sometimes.

What Do They Look Like?

This horse breed is strong-boned, athletic, and muscular. They have a good conformation and unlikely to have any deformities. The body is well-developed making the horse strong and ensuring it has the ability to survive in the harsh environment of the desert.

The horse has a short back and it has good withers. The shoulders are oblique. It is a clean-limbed horse. Some foals are seen with blub feet. 

What Are They Used For?

The Namib desert horse is a wild horse. It is found in the desert and runs free. It has never been domesticated and not used by humans for any purpose. The horses do not get along well with human and have not been used for any purpose.

The only purpose of this horse is as a tourist attraction. Its present location is in a park, which forms part of most wildlife safaris in Namibia. Many tourists visit this park only to see this horse. 

The horses are seen in the wild and usually stay in groups. They are seen in groups of around 6 to 11 horses. 

There was an attempt to use this horse for patrol purposes but it didn’t work. Most horses removed from the desert either died or were so bad-behaved that they had to be returned.

Where Do They Live?

The Namib desert horse is exclusively found in Namibia (Southern Africa). The location of this horse is the Garub plains located in the Namib desert, which is how the horse got its name. The horses have a large home range, since they may need to travel long distances for water and food, particularly during summer.

They can go up to the Koichab river in the North. In the west, they move up to the Great Escarpment.

What Is The Horse’s Lifespan?

The Namib desert horse is a wild horse and is very strong. This gives it the ability to live a long life. This horse is sturdy and does not have any major health problems. As a result, the horses can live long.

In the desert, they have adapted themselves to be in the conservation mode when there is a shortage of resources. This allows them to survive without food and water for long times. They face a serious risk from the hyena. 

The Speed Of This Horse

The Namib desert horse is a wild horse and can run fast when needed. In the wild, the spotted hyena is a danger for this horse and there have been instances of this horse been killed by the hyena. It has developed the ability to run fast to evade hyenas, as well as the leopard and the jackal, which prey on young horses. 

The Cost Of This Horse

Namib desert horses are not available for sale. They are not found anywhere in the world other than in the deserts of Namibia. The horses were sold during the 1990s since its population was more than 250. There were concerns expressed that this horse would overgraze and this would affect the desert environment.

As a result, the horses were sold in 1992 and most of the horses sold died. An auction was planned again in 1997. The stallions housed in a pen for the auction fought among themselves and had to be released and the auction was cancelled.

Since there are only 100 of these horses in the world today, they are considered a rare species and protected. 

Are They Suitable For Use By Beginners?

Being a desert horse, it is not possible to ride this horse or use it for any purpose. The horse wanders free in the desert and is a tourist attraction. The Namib desert breed is not known for getting along well with people. 

Conclusion / Summary 

The Namib desert horse is a feral horse that runs wild in the Garub plain in the desert in Namibia. There is only one wild desert horse in Africa, which is this breed. The horse has survived in the desert for more than 100 years and has adapted itself well to the desert.

The horse can survive even without water and puts in the effort to conserve water. It stays close to the watering hole and during the rainy season grazes at night. 

There is no clarity about the origin of this horse. A theory states that this horse traces its origin to horses that escaped from a stud farm. Other theories state that this horse originated from European horses that escaped from a crashed cargo ship. Genetic testing shows that this breed is closest genetically to the Arabian horse.

It a rare species with a little more than 100 horses living. They stay in groups of around 6 to 11. These horses are a major tourist attraction for people who visit Namibia. The horses run free and do not get along with people. Attempts to domesticate or use them failed in the past. 

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