The Tarpan was, for many years, confused with the Asian Wild Horse,
and thus no distinction was made between the two. More recently, however, the two breeds have
been recognized to be quite significantly different. While the Asian Wild Horse is believed to
be the ancestor of the Mongolian pony and other heavy-headed breeds, the Tarpan has been attributed
with the development of the lighter horse breeds such as the Trakehner and the Arabian.
The importance of the Tarpan is key to understanding the development
of the modern horse breeds. It is very tragic that the breed has been allowed to become extinct.
The last true wild Tarpan died in 1879, while an attempt was being made to capture it, and the
last Tarpan in captivity died in 1887 in the Munich Zoo.
The modern version of the Tarpan is a reconstructed breed based on
the Tarpan's close relatives, the Konik and the Hucul. The most primitive examples of the Hucul
and the Konik were collected by the Polish government, as these specimens were considered likely
to contain a high percentage of Tarpan blood. They were then crossbred, and the progeny interbred
to establish a fixed type.
The modern Tarpan does greatly resemble the original breed but, of
course, can never be completely the same. Today, they are selectively bred in the Polish forests
of Bialowieza and Popielno, and they have retained some of the inherently wild characteristics
of the old Tarpan breed. They are very hardy and tough, economical feeders, long-lived and resistant
to many equine diseases, and highly fertile. They have been ridden and used for light draft in
the past, but are now primarily kept in feral herds.
The old Tarpans were captured by the local farmers and kept and tamed
for work because of their amazing strength and toughness. These captured Tarpans would have bred
with the domestic Hucul and Konik. The fate of the old Tarpan is though tot be almost directly
a product of hunting for meat.
The Tarpan has a long head with a slightly convex profile, long ears,
a short, thick neck, and sloping quarters. They are mouse or brown dun, with dorsal stripe and
two toned manes and tails. Sometimes they have zebra stripes on the legs and their coats change
in winder to white. they stand around 13 hh.
Tarpan Pony Breed Info
The Story of the
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