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 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.

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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, 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.

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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.

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BREED PORTRAITS

Free Horses

There is a surprisingly high number of breeds, traditions, 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.

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.

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.

  • The Pyrenees are a mountain range of true wilderness. It is one of the few places in Europe where endangered species like bears, wolf packs, eagles and vultures share the mountains. And ... ponies!! The iconic black Mérens horse lives in the mountains all year long. Now in winter they manage cold and snow, in summer they have to fight heat and even bears. I was very happy to experience this ancient hardy horse breed in its original country. And I’m so happy to have experienced the Pyrenees a second time, many more visits to come. 👉🏽 Any fans of Mérens horses here?? Link me your accounts in the comments!
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#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #equineexplorers #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #equinephotography #pferdefotografie #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #gonative  @equine.explorers #raw_horses #merens #mérens #merenshorse #mountains #pyrenees #pyrenäen #snowmountain
  • Sorraia stallion watching out in the typical Portuguese wilderness. 👉🏽 I can’t believe my Iberica Explorer Trip is already over 😭 I have met so many awesome horses and people and I have visited amazing places in three countries, half of the trip in the best company by @mr_reitsportfotografie 
Besides my regular business and work, also tons of photos are waiting for me to review, select and edit. The worst aspect of my photography is, that I have more photos of sessions, that I could actually share on my social sites, even if I would post three times a day. I have so many photos and can’t show them. Photos need to be seen and used in my opinion, so I’m looking for more solutions how to do this in future. Do you guys have any ideas for me?

#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #equineexplorers #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #equinephotography #pferdefotografie #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #gonative  @equine.explorers #raw_horses #sorraia #sorraiahorse #cavalosorraia #wildportugal #portugal #sorraiapferd
  • Sorraia horse mare with her newborn foal 😍😍😍 I had a few fantastic photo sessions the last days, but this little moment was definately the most exciting one! When we went searching for the Sorraia herd, we first found a single mare with her two year old young one. AND! a super fresh baby! it was still shaky on the legs, the mare's hind was still in covered in blood. The birth must have taken place in the last one or two hours. What a privilige to be there and see this new life doing its first steps! Especially with such a rare horse breed. I'm absolutely in awe with this experience and feel so happy and lucky with my whole trip so far. Thanks to Jose Luis Andrade for this possibility.

#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #equineexplorers #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #equinephotography #pferdefotografie #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #gonative  @equine.explorers #raw_horses #sorraia #cavalosorraia #sorraiahorse #newbornbaby #newbornfoal #naturalhorsephotography #portugal @wildhorsephotographycollective
  • You might have guessed: I upload one picture of every breed I photographed during my #explorer_tour - fresh out of the camera! Every night before going to sleep I copy my photos of the day and browse through and make a first selection.  A few session are already fully edited, but this is only possible of I have enough time I. The evening. Since December 28 until today I have photographed every day except for one, can you imagine the amount of photos 😅  but with an efficient workflow I will be able to edit all of this faster than I did in the past. 
This photo shows my first session from Portugal: a feral Garrano horse in the mountains of Gêres. The Band stallion looked after his group of 11 mares and youngsters, quite a full time job! But sich handsome horses in open landscape in the mountains are a pleasure to photograph and observe. .
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#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #culturalheritage  #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #europaspferde #equineexplorers @equine.explorers #raw_horses #garrano #garranos #Cavalogarrano #geres #penedageres #portugal
  • Have you ever heard of the Losino? Also known as the caballo de raça Losina. These little black horses are native to the Losa valley in Northern Spain, where they live semi-wild since ages. You might have realized by now, that almost every breed I visted during my Explorer Tour, lives in in semi-feral conditions. The iberian pensinsula is full of equine wildlings, each breed with an ancient history and traditions, but most of them are hardly known outside their regions - or forgotten. The Losino however lives a huge valley and is an ideal playground for any horse photographer. I will definately come back one day. Maybe you will join me? :)
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#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #equineexplorers #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #equinephotography #pferdefotografie #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #gonative  @equine.explorers #raw_horses #losino #caballolosino #losina #spanishwildlife #pony #caballo #caballosespañoles
  • If you liked the fluffy Monchichi yesterday, you will love this one. This breed is called Jaca Navarra, it is another native breed to Navarra and a tiny heavy horse. As a matter of fact, they are only around 1,30m high, which makes them look like dwarfs😅 the breed was used as working horse on farms and also for meat production. Unfortunately these lovely fattis are critically endangered and found a refuge in a big forest estate. Almost the whole population lives there in semi wild conditions, which is an amazing sight. Little round horses roaming free is so different to most “wild” horses! The Jaca Navarra is always bay with no markings and they build the base to the slightly heavier Burguete horse of my post yesterday. Have you ever heard of the breed before?
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#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #equineexplorers #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #equinephotography #pferdefotografie #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #gonative  @equine.explorers #raw_horses #jacanavarra #navarresehorse #drafthorse #caballosnavarro #explore_heavyhorses #caballito #caballo
  • Happy New Year dear horse friends! I'm sending you these New Years Greetings from the Pyrenees, to be precise directly from the Basque country, the home of the Pottok ponies! These small horses live here in the mountains for ages already, nobody knows exactly were they come from and for how long there are around. As a matter of fact, there are cave paintings showing uni-coloured horses and even pintos, so who knows!
As the pony on the picture looks into the distance, my journey will continue into the mountains and then to Northern Spain, where more adventures will wait for me.

#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #equineexplorers #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #equinephotography #pferdefotografie #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #gonative  @equine.explorers #raw_horses #pottok #pottoka #pottokpony #pyrenees #basquecountry #mountainlovers #paysbasque
  • On my second stop on France I met the Landais Pony, they are native to the south west, more or less around Bordeaux. The Landais lives semi-wild in the marshland of the rivers, so they are used to very humid conditions, but poor me wasn't! Even with boots I kissed the mud again, this is a very very muddy trip so far 😝😂😅
Anyway, on the photo is the young stallion Goliath during the sunset 😍 The Landais is mostly bay, black or chestnut and if it doesn't live somewhere in Les Barthes, the river banks, it is also a very nice sport pony! I had the pleasure to photograph in different settings yesterday and it was really nice meeting the Landais Pony. 👉 Have you ever heard of the breed? Again I would love to hear your stories in the comments!

#thepixelnomad #vordielinse #culturalheritage  #explore_freehorses #wildhorsepc #wildhorse #wildhorsephotos #wildpferd #wildlifephotography #protectwildhorses #freehorses #horsephotography #yourshotphotographer #europaspferde #equineexplorers @equine.explorers #raw_horses #explore_forgottenhorses #rareequinebreeds #rareequines #rarehorses #forgottenhorses #culturalheritage #landais #poneylandais #landaispony #sunset #leslandes
  • Have you ever heard of the Hucul? In German it's called Huzule, or Carpathian Mountain Pony. There are probably more names, because the origin of the Hucul isn't one single country, but the mountain ranges in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukrainia, Romania and they are also bred in Austria and Czech Republic. The Hucul is basically THE mountain pony of Eastern Europe, just like the Haflinger is the mountain horse of the Alps and the Bosnian mountain horse of the Balkan. What makes the Hucul so special is its direct decendance of the forest and mountain tarpan, the original wild horse which populated eastern europe and got extinct. This classifies the Hucul as primitve horse, as strong, hardy, very clever pony. Back in the days people were very poor and couldn't afford to feed their horses, that's why they kept the ponies free roaming in the mountain forests, so they had to search for their own food, defend and fight wolfs and survive harsh winters. This makes the Hucul a true born survivor. And I can tell you: each pony I have met, no matter if they were semi-wild or lived in the National studs, all Huculs are clever, naughty little rascals! 😝
Unfortunately the Hucul got almost extinct after the Second World War and although they are slowly recovering, the breed is endangered. The work of national studs keeps the lines alive and some private breeders who value the qualities of the breed. Here are a few impressions I took during my Explorer Tour in Hungary. The Aggtelek National Park is home to about 200 horses and keeps them semi-wild on large areas. There is one herd with mares and one herd for stallions, were the oldest stallion is 26 years old! We were welcomed by the stud manager and spent the days with the ponies, which leads to an immense mountain of photos 🤣 
Have you ever experienced Hucul horses? Tell me in the comments! 😎
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.

Please don’t hesitate to write me if you want to support me in my mission, know addresses, breeders or contacts of any of the listed breeds or if you have knowledge about other breeds which I haven’t listed.

*italic breeds are horses I photographed and are in my archive. Prints and licenses can be purchased.

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
Elegesi Qiyus Wild Horse / Cayuse
Garrano
Giara Pony
Kaimanawa Horse
Karakachan Horse
Kundudo Horse / Qundudo
Lavradeiros
Letea Forest Horse / Danube Delta Horse
Livno Mountain 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 de Monte del Pais Vasco / Basque mountain horse
Caballo Serrano
Cabalo Galego
Camargue Horse
Cavallo Delta
Choctaw
Dartmoor Hill Pony
Dartmoor Pony
Dülmener Wildpferd
Eriskay Pony
Euskal Herriko Mendiko Zald
Exmoor Pony
Fell Pony
Gotland Russ
Heck Pferd
Henson
Hucul / Carpathian
Kabardin
Karachai
Konik
Liebenthaler Wildling
Losiño
Lundy Pony
Marismeña
Mérens
Monchino
Mongol Horse
Muran Noriker
New Forest Pony
Poney Landais
Pottock
Pyrénées catalanes / Cavall Pirenenc Catalá / CPC
Shetland Pony
Skyros Pony
Tarpan

Seasonal Horses

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

BECOME PART OF MY PROJECT

Forgotten Horses Report

Sign up for my Forgotten Horses Report to be the first about receiving informations about new Photo Tours, announcements for model calls and updates for my projects Forgotten Horses and Free Horses via email.