Risk Level: at risk
Local Risk Level: unkown
semi-feral in nature reserves in Europe
The Konik is a small, semi-feral horse, originating in Poland. They show many primitive markings, including a dun coat and dorsal stripe. They were used as pack horses before the wars and after since are conserved in semi-feral conditions. Today the Konik horse is used in many grazing projects or to repopulate wild horses in nature reserves. There are many places in Germany where to see the Konik. To control the population the colts are taken out of the herds and gelded. They are kind and curious allrounder ponies. Although most of the population is of grey colour, you can find chestnut and black Konik horses.
The history of the Konik is not very clear and two versions of the tale exist: The Konik Polski is an old, local breed descended directly from the European wild horse (Tarpan). The last wild individuals were captured in 1786 in Lithuanian forests and placed in the Zamoyski zoo. When Zamoyski zoo was dissolved in 1806, the horses were given to the farmers in the area, which bred them to local landraces and draft horses. An organised breeding of the Konik as breed began after World War I, when the first horses were repopulated in nature reserves.
New studies show they are close relatives to most domestic breeds. Genetic studies now contradict the view that the Konik is a surviving form of Eastern European wild horse, nor is it closely related to them. The Konik shares mitochondrial DNA with many other domesticated horse breeds and their Y-DNA is nearly identical. Nevertheless, the Konik, as many other back-breeding projects, resembles the Tarpan phenotype, their believed characteristics and hardiness.
Here are some places where you can see Koniks and where you can support the breed, and a thank you to everybody who works with me.