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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 equines rewilder the nature. Even if there may be no true wild horses anymore, we have many free horses on this planet. I want to share their story, document their lives and their impact in rewildering and grazing projects. There is a surprisingly high number of breeds, traditions, projects and regions with free roaming horses in Europe and worldwide.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, or the mares and foals are left free roaming. 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 or Nonius horses in the Hungarian Puszta.
  • 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.
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.

BREED PORTRAITS

Free Horses

There is a surprisingly high number of projects and regions with free roaming horses in Europe and worldwide. Many populations are at risk and therefore have a high intersection with Forgotten Horses. The breed gallery will updated continuously.

An incomplete and unofficial list of Free Horses

I created a list of 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 or partly free are floating and can change with local breeders and projects.

Feral Horses

Abaco Wild Horse
Ainos Pony / Kefalonia Horse
Alberta Mountain Horse / Alberta Wildie
Assateague / Chincoteague Pony
Bagual
Banker Horse
Brumby
Carneddau Pony
Coffin Bay Brumby
Cumberland Island Horse
Delft Island Horse
Danube Island Horse
Elegesi Qiyus Wild Horse / Cayuse
Garrano
Giara Pony
Jaca Navarra
Kaimanawa Horse
Karakachan Horse
Kundudo Horse / Qundudo
Lavradeiros
Letea Forest Horse / Danube Delta Horse
Livno Mountain Horse
Manych-Gudilo Lake horse
Marquesas Island Horse
Misaki Horse
Monterufolino
Mustang
Namib Desert Horse
Nokota Horse
Páramo Horse
Pryor
Retuerta
Sable Island Horse
Salomonen
Sanfratellano
Serbian mountain pony
Sorraia
Tolfetano
Tonga
Welsh Mountain Pony

Semi-Feral Horses

Asturcón
Bosnian Mountain Pony
Burguete
Caballo Serrano
Cabalo Galego
Camargue Horse
Castillonnais
Cavall Pirenenc Catalá
Cavallo Delta
Choctaw
Dartmoor Hill Pony
Dartmoor Pony
Dülmener Wildpferd
Eriskay Pony
Euskal Herriko Mendiko Zaldi / Basque mountain horse
Exmoor Pony
Faroese Pony
Fell Pony
Gotland Russ
Heck Pferd
Henson
Hucul / Carpathian
Kabardin
Karachai
Konik
Liebenthaler Wildling
Losino
Lundy Pony
Marismeña
Mérens
Monchino
Mongol Horse
Muran Noriker
New Forest Pony
Poney Landais
Pottock
Shetland Pony
Skyros Pony
Tarpan

Seasonal Free Horses

Dales Pony
Døle Horse
Fjord Pony
Freiberger / Franches-Montagnes
Gidran
Haflinger
Highland Pony
Icelandic Pony
Kisber Felver / Kisbéri
Nóniusz
Noriker
Rúm Pony

Free Horses in the media

#explore_freehorses

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.

photo archive

Photography of Free Horses

Are you looking for professional photos of free, rare and endangered breeds? You will find a small selection of my pictures in the breed posts, but you may ask for more specific photos directly. All my pictures can be licensed for private, editorial and commercial usage.