Free Horses

EQUINE WILDLINGS IN EUROPE

Free Horses

To be wild, or not to be wild. Is this really a question? Wild horses are extinct for a long time, but there are many small populations of equines, that actually live feral or free in a certain area or for a certain amount of time. There may be no true wild horses anymore, but there are many free equines on this planet. I want to share their story and document the lifes and habitats of these wildlings.

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FERAL HORSES

Feral horses are free-roaming horses with domesticated ancestors, but mostly untouched by humans and often managed as wildlife. The term wild horses is more popular than feral horses, in German it's "Wildpferd" and in French "Cheval sauvage / féral". Typical feral breeds are the Mustang or at some places the Konik.

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SEMI-FERAL HORSES

Semi-feral horses are owned and bred according to their breeding standards and are organised in societies, but are also allowed to roam free and graze in an area often deeply connected with the breed itself. Many owners visit their herds regularly and the nature of semi-feral horses is curious and interested, but also often shy. Typical semi-feral horses are Fell Ponies or Camargue Horses.

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HARAS SAUVAGE

A wild stud contains domestic or semi-feral horses that are bred in freedom and not in barns. The herds spend the season with selected stallions or all year round. In German it is called "Wildbahngestüt" and the French term is "Haras sauvage". Typical horse breeds are "forest bred" New Forest Ponies or "moor bred" Exmoor Ponies.

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SEASONAL FREE HORSES

In many rural places exists the tradition of releasing domestic horses and ponies into the nature for the season to graze on vast areas. This concept is popular for raising youngstock of any breed or to give working horses a summer off. They often share their pastures with other livestock animals as cattle or goats. Typical for a seasonal freedom is the alpine Almsommer with Haflinger Horses.

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THE ONE TRUE WILD HORSE

Takhi / Przewalski

The only one true wild (never domesticated) equine in the world today is the Przewalski horse, also known by its indigenous name Takhi. Although the genetic base relies only on 27 specimen that were kept in Zoos, the Takhi nowadays repopulates the steppes in Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. Modern studies show that the Takhi might be descendants of the Botai horses returned to the wild 5000 years ago.

Do you want to learn more about Free Horses? Please follow my hashtag #explore_freehorses on instagram and don’t miss any new updates and pictures of my project.

BREED PORTRAITS

Free Horses

Learn more about the wildlings I have met and photographed. The breed gallery will updated continuously. Many populations are at risk and therefore have a high intersection with Forgotten Horses.

THE STORY

Preserve equine wildlife

Wild horses have fascinated humans for ages and everybody who has experienced free roaming herds adds this to the list of the best wildlife experiences.

For me it is a mixture of research, observation of social behaviour and natural experiences that fascinates me. To simplify the matter of “wild horses” vs. “semi-feral” and “seasonal free but domestic”, I use the term Free Horses or Wildlings for my photographic project.

Unfortunately almost all breeds and populations of Free Horses are at risk and endangered and have therefore a high intersection with my project Forgotten Horses.

An incomplete and unofficial list of Free Horses​

I created a list of all Free Horses and Wildlings and sorted them according to my personal categories of wilderness. All types of Free Horses can have domesticated representatives and the borders between feral and semi-feral or semi-feral and seasonal free are flowing. 

Feral Horses
  • Alberta Mountain Horse / Alberta Wildie
  • Assateague / Chincoteague Pony
  • Banker Horse
  • Brumby
  • Brecon Welsh Mountain Pony
  • Carneddau Pony
  • Cumberland Island Horse
  • Delft Island Horse
  • Letea Forest Horse / Danube Delta Horse
  • Elegesi Qiyus Wild Horse / Cayuse
  • Garrano
  • Giara Pony
  • Kaimanawa Horse
  • Karakachan Horse
  • Kundudo Horse
  • Lavradeiros
  • Livno Mountain Horse
  • Marismeño
  • Marquesas Island Horse
  • Misaki Horse
  • Monterufoli Pony
  • Mustang
  • Namib Desert Horse
  • Nokota Horse
  • Páramo Horse
  • Pentro Horse
  • Retuerta
  • Sanfratellano
  • Serbian mountain pony
  • Sorraia Horse
  • Sable Island Horse
  • Tolfetano
Semi-Feral Horses
  • Asturcón
  • Burguete
  • Bosnian Mountain Pony
  • Cabalo Galego
  • Camargue Horse
  • Dartmoor Pony
  • Dartmoor Hill Pony
  • Dülmener Wildpferd
  • Eriskay Pony
  • Euskal Herriko Mendiko Zald
  • Exmoor Pony
  • Fell Pony
  • Gotland Pony
  • Heck Pferd / Tarpan
  • Henson
  • Hucul
  • Karbadiner
  • Konik
  • Liebenthaler Wildling
  • Losiño
  • New Forest Pony
  • Marismeña
  • Mérens
  • Monchina
  • Mongol Horse
  • Pottock
  • Pyrénées catalanes
  • Serrano
  • Shetland Pony
  • Skyros Pony
  • Welsh Mountain Pony
Seasonal Free
  • Dales Pony
  • Dole Horse
  • Faroe Island Pony
  • Fjord Pony
  • Haflinger Horse
  • Highland Pony
  • Icelandic Pony
  • Rúm Pony

Do you own a free roaming herd?

Do you own a free roaming herd of the list above, volunteer for a trust or have access and location data to Free Horses? Or do you ride and train a horse that could represent its breed? I would love to portrait your horses as part of my Free Horses project.  Let’s set up a session to capture the breed in various contexts.