The Marismeño horse is an ancient breed that originated in the south of Spain in Andalusia.

While they are not used for cattle work as much anymore, they are still bred and let roam free around the Doñana National Park.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Marismeño Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Marismeño:

Height (size) 14.0 – 14.3 hands high
Colors All solid colors
Country of Origin Spain
Common Uses Cattle work

Marismeño Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The Marismeño is an extremely uncommon breed of horse that is native to the marshes of the Guadalquivir River, from whence it derives its name.

It is presently found in the south-west of Spain in Andalusia region, namely in the Doñana National Park, which is located mostly in the province of Huelva.

Ancestors of today’s Marismeños were primitive Iberian horses that roamed the region as far back as 30-20,000 BC.

These horses were influenced by many civilisations that came to and from this area of Spain, including the Celts, Romans, different Germanic tribes, Punics, and Moors (both from northern Africa).

As a consequence, the Marismeño and other Iberian breeds (including the Andalusian, Lusitano, Menorqun, and Sorraia) have many characteristics in common with the Barb horse that is native to northern Africa.

Local cattle farmers have always been responsible for the care and handling of the horses that live in the Guadalquivir marshes, and these horses play a significant role in the region’s cultural identity.

They are among the oldest ‘cow horses’ in the western world, and the cattle management methods and practices used by the farmers in this region are regarded as a real ‘ancestor’ of the American cowboy’s traditions.

During the celebration known as “La Saca de las Yeguas,” which takes place every year in June, these horses go from Doñana National Park (the largest ecological reserve in Europe) to the town of Almonte, and then they are paraded through a world-famous center of pilgrimage – the town of Rocio.

During the festival, the priest will bless the horses, and the farmers separate the mares in different pens based on who owns them.

This enables them to assess the health of their horses and provide necessary care.

In the decades leading up to the recognition and revival of the breed in the 21st century, there was an ongoing effort to improve the Marismeño’s height by crossbreeding it with Thoroughbred and Andalusian animals.

These non-native breeds, however, did not do well in the marshes, where the horses are not provided with supplementary food or veterinary treatment, in accordance with the National Park’s regulations.

Because there are only around 1,000 dams and about 20 sires, the breed is in danger of becoming extinct, and inbreeding is a significant issue.

Luckily, the Marismeño has been able to preserve a significant amount of genetic variety due to its natural life in the marshes and, in part, modern organized breeding efforts.

Genetic studies reveal that the Marismeño maintains its distinctive adaptation to the marshlands in which it lives, and is genetically distinct from both the Andalusian and the Retuerta, which are its closest relatives.

The Marismeño was not recognized as a breed until 2003, when recognition and rehabilitation efforts started, and the studbook was established only in 2012.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names



Intelligent, brave, adaptable

Physical Characteristics

It is a strong horse with a straight head, wide chest, powerful hindquarters, and fine but sturdy legs.

Because they originated in the marshlands their feet are very wide.


All solid colors

Height (size)

14.0 – 14.3 hands high







Blood Type


Common Uses

Cattle work



Popular Traits

Incredible hardiness



Country of Origin



Ancient primitive Iberian horses