The Albanian Horse is a small breed of horse that finds its origins on the Balkan Peninsula. The Albanian breed is also part of what is called the Balkan group of horses; the small horses of Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey.
The Albanian Horse was an indigenous breed which was established in the Balkan region in the early 5th century. At the time, the human population in this area was comprised of the Illyrians and Indo-Europeans.
During the late 14th century the invasion of the Ottomans brought change in imperial control to the region .The Ottoman Empire era introduced the Arab Horse which was to play a great influence on the Albanian breed. There is also speculation that the Albanian breed may be the result of inbreeding with the Tarpan, Mongolian and Turkmenian bloodlines during this time period.
The Albanian people have a long history of selectively breeding horses. The Albanian Horse was originally bred for long distance travel in tough mountainous terrain. The breed has been noted for its small stature in combination with innate agility, endurance, intelligence and immunity to disease. All of these characteristics met the needs of the Albanian people as they traveled throughout their country.
The Balkan Peninsula has a diverse landscape which includes both plains and mountain regions. Just as there are two different geographical areas, there are two distinct types of Albanian horses: the Mountain breed and the Myzeqea (plains) breed. The Mountain breed has traditionally been a smaller horse comparatively speaking.
In the 20th century there was a movement in Albania to selectively breed Albanian horses for agricultural needs. Large breeding centers, such as the Zootechnical Station in Shodra, have been organized in an effort to create more agrarian horses to meet the needs of the farmers. This has led to increased propagation of Albanian horses since 1980.
With this selective breeding, the original differences of the Mountain and Myzeqea have been intermixed, blurring distinctive qualities. However, the Albanian has kept many of its best attributes such as endurance, an ambling gait and a small stature, all of which can be maintained on subsistence feeding.
Today, horse breeders are breeding for a larger Albanian. This is in line with their continuing need for agricultural use; a larger horse can inevitably pull a larger load. The horse crossbreeding is usually between native Albanians and pure bred Arabs, Haflingers, and Nonius horses.
They have not yet made it too Australia, and at the time of writing this article there were no know Albanian Horse Breeders or horses in the country.