The Retuerta is an ancient Spanish horse breed that is known as living mostly unmanaged in feral herds.

If you’re interested in learning more about Retuerta horses, this article will tell you everything you need to know about this breed, so read on!

Retuerta Horse Breed Info

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

Height (size) 15.0 – 16.0 hands high
Colors Bay or brown
Country of Origin Spain
Common Uses Feral horses

Retuerta Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

This breed of horse was named after the flooded places known as ‘retuertas’ that are located in what is now known as Doñana National Park. 

These are areas where the sands slowly drain the water towards the salt Marsh, and they provide the wildlife with a natural source of water to drink.

History of the breed

Although the Retuerta is native to this part of Spain, it is thought that it formerly roamed over much of the Iberian Peninsula. 

In point of fact, DNA research from 2006 indicates that it is one of the oldest horse breeds in Europe and the closest surviving relative of the Iberian horse, which has since been extinct. 

The Iberian horse, which inhabited this region as far as 30,000 or 20,000 BC is considered to be the progenitor of several contemporary breeds of horse, such as the Andalusian, Lusitano, Menorqun, Sorraia, and the Marismeño, which is the Retuerta’s closest cousin.

For many thousands of years before and after humans began domesticating them, Iberian horses lived in the wild. 

The Retuerta has undergone little alteration over thousands of years and can still thrive without human interference since it has always been let to live in a wild or semi-wild environment.

Local cattle ranchers have always been responsible for the care and handling of Retuerta horses, and these horses are an essential part of the local culture.

In the past, they were used for agricultural tasks and working with cattle, but when more appropriate horses entered the market, Retuertas were no longer used.

In conjunction with the destruction of their natural habitat, this nearly resulted in the extinction of the breed, and by the 1980s, there were just a few individuals left.

Conservation efforts

By assisting with herd management in Andalusia’s Doñana National Park, the Association of Cattle Breeders was able to make a significant contribution toward the preservation of the Retuerta, as well as the Marismeño breed.

By introducing a second population in the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve, Rewilding Europe has also contributed to the survival of the breed.

The establishment of a new population of Retuertas will not only help to ensure the continued existence of this endangered breed in Doñana, but it will also help to improve the natural grazing process carried out by large herbivores in the Campanarios de Azaba reserve, which is a part of one of the five rewilding areas that are currently being managed by Rewilding Europe.

Natural grazing by wild herbivores (such as wild horses, wild cattle, bison, and many other animals) vanished from significant sections of Europe when people inhabited these regions.

The widespread abandonment of land that is occurring right now in many regions of Europe has led to the disappearance of cattle, which in turn has led to the simplification of ecosystems and the reduction of the dehesas that are a natural component of the Mediterranean mosaic landscapes.

By reestablishing natural grazing as an important ecological activity, Rewilding Europe makes a significant contribution to the expansion of the range of plant and animal species that are found in Western Iberia.

The reintroduction of wild herbivores will not only help natural areas recover but will also contribute to an increase in biodiversity.

Wild herbivores play an important role in reducing the risk of forest fires and maintaining open landscapes, both of which are necessary for increased biodiversity.

Doñana National Park is home to around 150 Retuertas, while the Campanarios de Azaba Biological Reserve is home to approximately 50 individuals.

The two populations are both slowly growing and are a natural way of controlling brush in the parks, keeping the land safe from wildfires and contributing to the re-establishment of a balanced ecosystem. 

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

Alternative Names



Difficult to train

Physical Characteristics

The Retuerta has a solid physique with long legs and powerful joints, as well as a long head that is characterized by a prominent Roman nose.

Overall, it is a robust, hardy and sound breed.

The conformation is similar to other Iberian breeds, although it tends to have a lighter frame.


Bay or brown

Height (size)

15.0 – 16.0 hands high







Blood Type


Common Uses

Feral horses



Popular Traits




Country of Origin



Iberian horse