AmonSzocs's picture

Tarpan/ Konik Horses

Observed: 13th October 2013 By: AmonSzocsAmonSzocs’s reputation in Mammals
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the naturalist man's picture

Tarpan horse

These are strange horses from Poland, they eat reeds and like standing in water!

They are Tarpans, or Becks; a primitive breed of horse. Strictly speaking they are not Tarpans but a cross between Przewalski horse (Equus przewalski poliakov) and modern horses (Equus ferus caballus) - true Tarpans (Equus ferus ferus) became extinct in the 18 century. The back breeding was done in the 1930s by the Beck brothers (who also tried to back breed to primitive cattle) - hence their other name of Becks horse.

They are now so close genetically to the original Tarpans that some people give them the scientific name of Equus ferus ferus though they are still not quite Tarpans so I would suggest you put up another identification of 'Tarpan' with the scientific name of modern horse 'Equus ferus caballus'.

Incidentally, Tarpans are the original prehistoric horse found throughout most of Europe, including Britain; and they are the horses pictured in prehistoric cave art from France and Spain. They also look like Thelwell's cartoon barrel-chested, short-legged horses. The modern horse is from Asia and the middle east.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

Gill Sinclair's picture


I think the horses used to graze the reserves are Koniks, and according to the oracle that is Wikipedia:-) "Genetic studies now contradict the view that the Konik is a surviving form of the wild horse of Eastern Europe, commonly called the Tarpan."

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

the naturalist man's picture


These look like Tarpans/Becks and to confirm I trawled for which horse were used on Hen Reedbeds reserve. I found a few local papers reporting on a press release about the Tarpan horses on the reserve: example -

However, after another trawl for Koniks it appears they are descended from the Becks horses, the breed the Becks brothers produced with their back breeding; so we are both right.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

AmonSzocs's picture

This is great. Many thanks

This is great. Many thanks for the research. I think it would be more appropriate if one of you could come up with an identification. It seems you two have a greater knowledge about it, and I would be thankful for it.

Many thanks.