Horses living in a group, whether in the wild or at a stable, tend to develop a hierarchy. Their relationships affect things like which animal gets first dibs on food and water. In this post, we dive into horses’ herd behaviour to help you understand why horses act the way they do.
Horse Herds in the Wild
A wild herd typically consists of a group of mares, their offspring, and one or more stallions. The herd provides a sense of security and opportunities for rest. It also makes it easier for the horses to reproduce and find food and water. When the colts (male foals) are old enough, they leave to form a bachelor herd.
A herd’s leader is typically an older mare, who is not necessarily stronger than the other horses but has extensive experience and knowledge about how to survive. She is responsible for the herd’s well-being.
There’s also a lead stallion who defends the herd and intervenes when any conflicts occur between horses. When the stallion becomes too old or weak, another stallion from a bachelor herd may challenge him.
Hierarchy and Dominance Within the Herd
Dominance within the herd determines the order for accessing resources like food, water, and shelter. Dominance could also take the form of controlling movement - either stopping another horse from moving or making it move when it does not want to.
The relationships within a herd are complex and change over time. Horses are not born dominant, and a horse may use dominant behaviour one time to gain access to food but not other times.
New horses tend to start at the bottom of the hierarchy. They can gradually work their way up the ranks by challenging other horses, gaining their respect, or taking the place of a colt that leaves the herd. Some horses are uninterested in moving up in the hierarchy. They’re willing to sacrifice luxuries like access to the best food to avoid having responsibility for the herd.
Horses communicate with other herd members using body language, vocal sounds, and scents. To establish dominance, they may use squeals, pinned ears, rolling eyes, or the threat of kicking or biting. To show submissiveness, they often lower their head, chew, and lick their lips like they’re eating or drinking - a vulnerable action.
Friendship Within the Herd
Horses are social animals with a natural desire for the company of other horses. They get stressed when they’re all alone. It is possible to use another animal, like a sheep or goat, as a companion, but the ideal scenario is having horses live together in a group.
Horses that are getting along well will stand close together peacefully and may do mutual grooming, where they nibble at each other’s withers, neck, and back. They may also stand nose-to-tail so they can swish flies away from each other.
Herds sometimes develop subgroups of horses with particularly close relationships. Horses may have a favourite companion for mutual grooming and general hanging out and may show signs of stress or grief upon separation. It’s hard to know why horses prefer certain horses over others, although it could relate to personality or coat colour.
What role do you think you would take in a horse herd? Let us know in the comments!
The American Paint Horse is another of the most popular North American horse breeds. Paint Horses have an instantly recognizable coat pattern with spots of white and a different colour. They’re distinct from pinto horses in that pinto horses can be of any breed, while a Paint Horse’s parents must be registered American Paint Horses, American Quarter Horses, or Thoroughbreds.
In this post, we describe the history and characteristics of this beautiful, versatile breed.
History of the American Paint Horse
In the 1500s, Spanish colonizers brought the ancestors of modern-day Paint Horses to the Americas. These horses were of Barb, Andalusian, and Arabian background and had spotted or two-toned colouring.
Many of these horses of Spanish origin roamed free across North America, and Indigenous peoples adopted and bred them. The horses were also popular with cowboys. The British eventually introduced Thoroughbreds into Paint Horses’ bloodline.
For a long time, Paint and Quarter Horses shared the same gene pool. In 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association formed, excluding horses with too much white on their coat. In 1965, the American Paint Horse Association (APHA) formed after the unification of 2 different breed registries. Today, the APHA is the third largest equine registry in the United States.
Description of the American Paint Horse
Paint Horses have a strong, muscular, well-balanced body with a broad chest and powerful hindquarters. The breed weighs 950 to 1200 pounds (430.9 to 544.3 kg) and measures 14 to 16 hands.
Paint Horses have white spots combined with spots of any other colour. The most common are black, bay, brown, sorrel, and chestnut. Paint horses can also have a dun gene or a dilution gene, which results in a colour like palomino. The horses also sometimes display roaning or greying.
Every animal’s pattern of spots is unique, although there are names for common patterns. Tobiano horses have smooth-edged white patches over their back, among other areas. They also often have white on some or all of their legs, a white facial marking, and a bi-coloured mane and tail.
Overo horses have jagged-edged white patches that start at their belly and rarely cover their back. They have a solid-coloured mane, tail, and legs, although they can have white stockings. They often have 1 or 2 blue eyes and white on their face.
Tovero horses display a combination of tobiano and overo characteristics. Sabino horses have white hairs mixed in with their base colour, plus patches with irregular edges. They often have white legs and a white blaze on their face.
Splashed white horses, meanwhile, look like they stepped into white paint. It’s also possible for Paint Horses to have a nearly solid or even solid-colour coat as long as they have the proper bloodline.
Unfortunately, Paint Horses tend toward obesity and certain genetic conditions. One potential health issue is lethal white syndrome, in which a foal is born with a white coat, blue eyes, and improperly developed intestines. Other possible conditions include hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (muscle twitching and weakness) and hereditary equine regional asthenia (weakened tissue).
Personality and Uses of the American Paint Horse
Paint Horses’ work ethic makes them perfect working horses. Their friendly, calm, steady nature renders them suitable for riders of all ages and levels of experience.
Paint Horses have good strength, speed, agility, and stamina and participate in most Western and English riding disciplines. They’re known to compete in rodeo events, jumping, and flat races.
Did you learn something new about the American Paint Horse? Let us know in the comments!
Pictou County is known for its beautiful scenery, fascinating heritage, and friendly hospitality. There’s a lot going on this March Break at the ranch and in other locations around Pictou County. In this post, we inform you about accommodation, entertainment, and dining options in case you are planning a staycation or decide to pay this charming area a visit.
Where to Stay
Located on top of Fitzpatrick Mountain near Scotsburn, Smith Rock Chalets is the perfect place for a wilderness getaway. Their chalets include full kitchens and bathrooms and are ideally set up for a socially distanced vacation. Guest rooms are also available in their Rock Maple Retreat.
All of the accommodation options at Smith Rock Chalets include a TV and free wifi, and several are pet-friendly and wheelchair-accessible. During your stay, be sure to check out the hot tub, heated outdoor pool, walking trails, and other winter activities.
There are also inns, bed and breakfasts, and hotels available in Pictou and New Glasgow.
What to Do
At Shelby Ranch, we will have our March Break Ranch Adventure every day between 1 pm and 3 pm. Admission to this family-friendly event includes pony rides, mechanical bull rides, and sleigh/wagon rides, plus access to our petting farm and a bonfire.
Our other services are available by appointment throughout the break. Send us a Facebook message to get your family booked in. Choose among guided trail rides, pony rides, private sleigh/wagon rides, and axe throwing, or try several activities for an afternoon of adventure.
The Museum of Industry in Stellarton is hosting fun and educational activities for children and adults daily over March Break. Visit their website for details about a train-themed story time, historical interpretations, and more.
The Jitney Walking Trail runs from the colourful Pictou waterfront to Browns Point and is maintained during the winter. Borrow recreation equipment from Pictou Recreation and Parks to get some exercise and enjoy beautiful views of Pictou Harbour.
There will also be a guided snowshoe hike on Fitzpatrick Mountain on Friday, March 19th at 10 am. The event is organized by Hike Nova Scotia and the Recreation Departments of the Town of Pictou and the Municipality of Pictou County. To register for the hike, email email@example.com or call 902-485-2247. Snowshoes will be provided to participants.
Where to Eat
In Pictou, visit Sharon’s Place Family Restaurant for delicious home-cooked meals and friendly service. Try Piper’s Landing for fine dining or the Highlander Pub for traditional pub fare. Grab lunch at the Stone Soup Café or the Water Street Market & Bakery, which also sells artwork, crafts, and other products by local vendors.
Uncle Leo’s Brewery in Lyon’s Brook makes fine ales without any fillers or preservatives. While in Pictou County, also make sure to indulge your sweet tooth at Mrs. MacGregor’s Shortbreads and get your hands on a slice of the famous Pictou County pizza, made with the signature brown sauce.
What would be your perfect Pictou County vacation? Did we miss any of your favourite places to visit? Let us know in the comments!
The American Quarter Horse is one of the most popular breeds in North America and suitable for beginner riders as well as those with more experience. In this post, we describe the history and characteristics of this versatile breed.
History of the American Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses originated in the 1600s in the United States as a cross between horses of Spanish origin and imported English horses. The breed has some Thoroughbred blood in its ancestry. Quarter Horses were successful in quarter-mile races down straight tracks, hence their name.
By the early 19th century, the racing world’s focus had shifted to courses with longer distances. Quarter Horses started to be used more for herding cattle on ranches in the western and southwestern United States. The horses’ hardiness, agility, and “cow sense” made them popular with cowboys.
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) was only formed in 1940. It operates a stud book and breed registry and is the largest horse breeding association in the world. Today, there are over 230,000 registered Quarter Horses in Canada, and Alberta has the fifth largest Quarter Horse population in the world.
Description of the American Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses can be various solid colours, with the most common being sorrel (brownish-red). The AQHA recognizes 16 colours, including bay, black, dun, and red roan. Quarter Horses often have white markings on their face and legs.
This breed stands between 14.3 and 16 hands tall and tends to weigh between 950 and 1200 pounds (430.9 to 544.3 kg). Quarter Horses are stocky and muscular. They have a small head and deep, broad chest. Although there are several other ideal characteristics for the breed, such as broad, muscular hindquarters, the AQHA cares most about a horse’s ancestry.
Quarter Horses are prone to certain health issues, including hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (muscle twitching or weakness) and malignant hyperthermia (high metabolic activity). There are genetic tests available for these conditions.
Personality and Uses of the American Quarter Horse
Quarter Horses are agile, athletic, and sure-footed over rough terrain. Their speed over short distances and ability to start, turn, and stop quickly lend them to sprint racing and rodeo events like reining and barrel racing. Quarter Horses participate in most riding disciplines, even dressage.
These horses are easy to train, good-natured, and calm. They’re often used for ranch work, racing, and horse shows. However, they also make good mounts for children and beginner riders and are popular for recreational riding.
Did you learn something new about the American Quarter Horse? Let us know in the comments!
Horses come in a dizzying variety of coat colours, patterns, and markings. Horse lovers use the different colours and markings to classify and distinguish horses. In this post, we provide an overview of basic coat colours and their variations, as well as patterns and facial and leg markings.
Basic Horse Coat Colours
The most common horse coat colour is bay, which is brown with a black mane and tail and black lower legs. Chestnut horses have a reddish-brown coat, with a mane and tail that are the same colour or lighter.
Black horses, as you would imagine, have a black coat, mane, and tail. A seal brown horse has a dark-brown coat with a black mane and tail and black lower legs. You can distinguish a seal brown horse by the lighter brown patches around its muzzle, eyes, flanks, and stifle (upper hind leg).
Pure white horses are rare but lack pigment in their skin, hooves, and coat.
Variations on Basic Coat Colours
A grey horse can be born with any coat colour but gradually starts growing white hairs. The eventual colour can range from nearly white to dark-grey. A grey horse may have a dappled or spotted pattern.
The roan pattern also involves white hairs mixed with a base colour. However, horses are born with this pattern. There are names for different types of roan, such as strawberry roan, which is white hairs interspersed with chestnut.
The cream gene makes chestnut, bay, and black coats lighter. For example, a palomino horse has a cream gene with a chestnut coat, giving it a light-yellow coat with a lighter-coloured mane and tail.
The dun gene typically gives a horse a darker head, limbs, mane, and tail; a dark stripe along its spine; and horizontal stripes on its legs. Dun horses come in different colours, such as blue dun, which has grey hair and is based on a black coat.
The rare silver gene turns a black coat chocolate-brown. The horse will have a whitish mane and tail and may have dapples. The champagne gene is another rare gene that causes a horse to have a shiny coat and grey-pink skin containing dark spots.
Horse Coat Patterns
A horse with the pinto pattern has patches of white and patches of another colour. Horses with smooth-edged white patches that go over their spine are known as tobiano. Those with jagged white patches seeming to start at the belly are called overo.
Horses with a combination of both patterns are called tovero. A horse that has coloured hairs mixed into the patches of white has a sabino pattern. A splashed white horse, meanwhile, looks like it has walked into white paint, with a large, smooth-edged white patch.
There are several types of spotted pattern. For example, a horse with the leopard pattern has dark spots on a white coat, while a horse with the snowflake pattern has white spots on a base colour. A horse with a blanket has a white patch over its hindquarters.
Horse Facial and Leg Markings
A horse can have 1 or more white markings on its face. A star is located between or above the eyes and can be various shapes, including a circle or a heart. A snip is a small white mark on a horse’s nose or muzzle.
A strip is a narrow white line that runs partway, or all the way, down a horse’s face. A blaze is similar but wider. A horse with a bald face has a large white patch that extends above its eyes.
A horse can have a white marking above its hooves on anywhere from 1 to all 4 legs. The white patch might be short. The marking can also be a sock, which extends about two-thirds of the way up the horse’s leg, or a stocking, which extends higher than its knee.
Do you have a favourite horse coat colour, pattern, or marking? Let us know in the comments!
Tack is the equipment used for riding a horse. There are many possible variations and additions, but basic tack can be divided into the saddle and tack that goes on the horse’s head. In this post, we describe the major pieces of tack that you’re likely to come across if you come for a ride.
The Western saddle is the largest and most recognizable piece of riding equipment. It’s what you sit on when riding a horse. All of its parts have their own names, but the ones most relevant to beginner riders are the horn, the seat, the cantle, and the stirrups.
The horn is the distinctive projection at the front of a Western saddle. It was traditionally used for holding one end of a lasso, but, these days, riders mostly use it for support, including while mounting and dismounting.
The seat is the part that you sit on and is located on top of the saddle tree, which is the saddle’s frame. The cantle is the raised edge at the back of the seat, while the stirrups are the dangling loops that hold the rider’s feet.
The saddle sits on a saddle pad, which provides cushioning, absorbs the horse’s sweat, and can help improve the saddle’s fit. The saddle is held in place with a cinch, a band that runs under the horse’s belly and attaches to the latigo on the horse’s left side and the off-side billet on its right. A saddle may have a back cinch that connects to the front one with a strap.
A headstall is a set of straps that goes around the horse’s head. It can be part of either a halter, which is used for leading the horse from the ground and tying it up, or a bridle, which is used for riding.
A bridle can have different components, including a noseband, a browband or ear loops, and a curb strap, which goes under the horse’s chin. The rider uses the bridle to communicate with the horse by applying pressure on different parts of its face. In most cases, a bridle includes a bit - a piece of metal that goes inside the horse’s mouth and helps the rider give commands.
There are several types of bits, but 2 of the most common are snaffle bits and curb bits. Snaffle bits pull directly on the horse’s mouth, while curb bits use metal shanks that hang outside the horse’s mouth. Instead of using a bit, some bridles use a bosal - a thick band that presses down on the horse’s nose.
The reins are the straps used for directing a horse and attach to the bit, if one is used. A Western rider might use split reins, which have 2 separate straps; a roping rein, which consists of 1 short loop; or romal reins, which have a string attached on the end. A bosal is often combined with mecate reins, which were traditionally made of horsehair and include both a long rein and a lead rope.
Did you learn something new about Western tack? Let us know in the comments!
It’s not only humans that need to exercise regularly and do warm-ups, stretching, and cool-downs. In this post, we explain horses’ exercise requirements and different ways to help them meet their exercise needs.
Benefits of Exercise for Horses
Exercise can increase a horse’s stamina and endurance and improve its muscle tone and the functioning of its heart and lungs. It promotes mental alertness, disease resistance, bone and hoof development, and healthy blood circulation. With each step, a horse’s hoof pushes fluid up its leg.
Exercise also helps prevent common issues among horses that spend most of their time in a stall, like boredom, leg swelling, and constipation.
Horse Exercise Requirements
A horse’s exercise needs vary depending on factors like its age, breed, housing situation, health, and fitness level, as well as the climate. A racehorse will require more-intense workouts than a senior horse, for example.
Horses that are free to move around in a pasture should receive an additional 15 to 20 minutes of exercise daily. Stabled horses benefit from at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Super-fit horses need about 2 hours of exercise daily.
Horses with a low fitness level benefit from a gradual increase in exercise quantity and intensity. Regardless of the horse, consistency is key. Irregular exercise can lead to issues like muscle damage or incorrect feeding.
Warm-Up, Stretching, and Cool-Down for Horses
Just like you wouldn’t start running a marathon without warming up first, horses require a warm-up before exercising. Warm-up activities decrease the risk of injury, help the horse’s limbs move more freely, and increase the oxygen going to its muscles. Options include walking or trotting the horse at an easy pace for 10 to 15 minutes or lunging it (having it move in a circle at the end of a lunge line).
Stretching a horse increases its flexibility, improves its circulation, and helps relieve pain and inflammation. Stretch a horse’s legs by picking them up one at a time and gently extending them in each direction. Other possible exercises are having the horse turn in circles or stretch its neck forward and down.
For the cool-down, keep the horse moving at a relaxed pace for 10 to 15 minutes to allow its body temperature and heart rate to return to normal. Depending on the weather, the cool-down could include spraying or sponging the horse with cool water, drying it off with a towel, or applying a horse blanket. The animal can take little sips of water but should not eat until its body temperature has returned to normal to reduce the risk of colic.
Types of Exercise for Horses
Riding - whether at a walk, jog, lope, or gallop - is a classic way for both the horse and the rider to get exercise. Variations include riding the horse over ground poles, taking it over jumps, riding it up and down a hill, and ponying another horse behind it. Other ways to exercise a horse are putting it on a treadmill, taking it for a swim, having it do lunging or driving (pulling a cart), and taking it for a walk on a lead rope.
Being out in a pasture is its own form of exercise since groups of horses move around as they graze. Encourage physical activity by giving horse toys like giant balls or putting the hay and water at opposite ends of the field.
What would be your favourite way to exercise a horse? Let us know in the comments!
There are several horses from ancient and recent history whose names come up again and again. In this post, we share the stories of 6 famous horses so you can know who people are talking about when they say names like Secretariat and Seabiscuit!
This tall, black horse was the beloved steed of Alexander the Great. Born in approximately 355 BCE, Bucephalus was presented as a gift to Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon. Philip wanted to send the horse away due to its wild behaviour, but the 12-year-old Alexander managed to tame the animal.
Alexander rode Bucephalus in many battles and promised destruction when Bucephalus was kidnapped (the kidnappers returned the horse). After Bucephalus died in 326 BCE, Alexander founded a city called Bucephala in his memory.
The Godolphin Arabian is considered one of the 3 founding sires of the modern Thoroughbred. He was born in approximately 1724, likely in Tunisia, and was given as a gift to the King of France. This small, bay-coloured Arabian horse was imported to England in 1729.
His name refers to one of his owners, the Earl of Godolphin. This horse was the father of approximately 90 foals, several of whom went on to racing success. The Godolphin Arabian died in 1753.
Man o’ War
This chestnut Thoroughbred, nicknamed Big Red, was born in 1917 in Kentucky. He won 20 out of 21 races in his 2-year racing career, only coming in second place in 1919 to a horse named Upset. By his fourth race, he was carrying 130 pounds (59 kg) as a handicap.
After retiring from racing, Man o’ War moved to a stud farm, where he received hundreds of thousands of visitors. He sired 379 foals and died of a heart attack in 1947.
This small, scrawny horse with his knees turned inward was an unlikely champion. Indeed, Seabiscuit proved difficult to train and did not win any races until his eighteenth attempt. With the switch to a new trainer, Tom Smith, Seabiscuit’s luck started to turn.
This bay horse was born in 1933, and his eventual success provided hope during the Great Depression. His main rider was Red Pollard, a Canadian jockey who was blind in one eye. After an 89-race career, Seabiscuit retired to a ranch in California, where he received over 50,000 visitors and died in 1947.
This small, stocky, dark bay horse was born in 1961 in Ontario. He was the first Canadian-born and -bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Northern Dancer won 14 out of 18 races but is most famous for the success of his offspring.
This spectacular stallion moved to a stud farm in Maryland, siring, among others, 147 horses that won stakes races. The fee for a mare to breed with Northern Dancer rose all the way to $500,000. He died in 1990 of colic, and his body was transported back to his home farm in Ontario.
This cocky chestnut horse, nicknamed Big Red just like Man o’ War, was born in Virginia in 1970. In 1973, he was the first horse in 25 years to win the American Triple Crown, which means that he won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.
Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes by an astounding 31 horse lengths. He went on to have over 600 offspring and was put down in 1989. After Secretariat’s death, his heart was estimated to weigh a hefty 21 to 22 pounds (9.5 to 10 kg).
Do you know any other famous horses? Let us know in the comments!
Horses have strange smelling behaviours, pickiness about feed, and an extraordinary sensitivity to touch. In this post, we dive into horses’ senses of smell, taste, and touch.
Sense of Smell
Horses’ sense of smell is about 50 times better than humans’, although not as powerful as dogs’. Their noses can distinguish the scent of predators, other horses, medications hidden in their feed, and even possibly human emotions, like fear and happiness.
Horses have anywhere from 25 million to 100 million olfactory receptors, which help detect scents. The human nose contains 5 to 6 million receptors, while dogs and rats have about 300 million.
Horses’ large, flexible nostrils suck air into their large nasal cavity. Inside the cavity, turbinate bones distribute inhaled air, and tiny hairs slow it down to trap it in mucus. Horses can identify a scent’s direction because each nostril’s receptors connect to separate parts of their brain.
Like several other animals, including cats and pandas, horses have an organ known as the vomeronasal organ (VNO) at their nasal cavity’s base. In horses, this organ’s most significant role is detecting other horses’ pheromones - chemical substances that affect animal behaviour. More specifically, stallions will use the VNO to determine whether a mare is in heat.
To direct odours to their VNO, horses use the Flehmen response, lifting their head up high, peeling back their lips, wrinkling their nose, and temporarily stopping breathing. Horses sometimes also use the Flehmen response for strong, unfamiliar smells like perfume and gasoline.
Horses often sniff each other’s nostrils when they first meet. Mares fix their newborn foal’s scent into their brain while grooming it. However, horses can also form negative associations with certain smells.
Sense of Taste
Horses’ taste buds are located mainly on the roof of their mouth and the back section of their tongue. They have approximately 25,000 taste buds, compared to between 8000 and 10,000 for humans.
Horses can distinguish between different flavours, like sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. They tend to prefer sweet and salty foods, perhaps because sweet foods fill them up, while salty ones replenish their salt levels. Sour or bitter foods, however, risk being poisonous.
If there’s plenty of grass or hay available, horses will eat the foods with the most appealing taste and texture, although they tend to avoid toxic plants. Left to their own devices, horses will not necessarily choose the most nutritious option and may consume more food than is necessary to meet their needs.
Horses tend to prefer young, tender plants to mature, tough ones. They may refuse food or water with an unusual taste or smell. However, they’re less choosy when hungry.
Sense of Touch
Horses’ sense of touch is highly sensitive, especially around their nose, lips, and ears. They can feel a fly landing on their back and the rider’s slightest shift of weight in the saddle. A particular horse’s level of sensitivity depends on factors including its age and the thickness of its skin.
Horses use their coarse whiskers - found around their muzzle and eyes - to gather information about their environment. They’ll paw the ground then touch it with their muzzle to check its safety, firmness, and depth.
Those who ride and work with horses should use a light touch on the reins and ensure that tack fits correctly. Know that horses prefer being rubbed and stroked - in non-sensitive areas - to being patted or tickled.
Do you have a favourite fact about horses’ sense of smell, taste, or touch? Let us know in the comments!
Roaming in the Mongolian steppes, you may find herds of Przewalski’s horses, the one remaining species of wild horse. Other horses commonly considered wild, like mustangs, are actually feral horses - escaped domestic horses. There are also several groups of semi-feral horses, such as Dartmoor ponies, that live mostly independently but with some human intervention.
In this post, we describe different types of wild, feral, and semi-feral horses.
This endangered horse has a dun coat with a pale belly and white muzzle, a dark stripe along its spine, dark lower legs with zebra-like stripes, a dark mane and tail, and no forelock. Pronounced “Shuh-val-ski’s” horse, this short, stocky equine has a large head and thick neck.
Although these hardy horses became extinct in the wild in the 1960s, they were bred in captivity and reintroduced into Mongolia. They live in groups of mares and foals with a single dominant stallion. Younger males live in separate bachelor groups.
This prehistoric wild horse roamed in southern France and Spain and east to central Russia and is depicted in cave paintings in France and Spain. Wild tarpans died out in the 19th century, and the last captive animal died in Russia in 1909.
Ill-tempered tarpans had a long, shaggy coat. In the 20th century, the Heck brothers in Germany combined several breeds to try to recreate the tarpan’s genetic combination.
These descendants of Spanish horses brought to the Americas were often bred with other breeds, including American Quarter Horses and draft horses, leading to horses with a variety of colours and patterns, including bay, sorrel, black, and palomino. They’re generally medium-sized, hardy, and sure-footed with stocky legs.
Mustangs live in small herds in the grasslands of the western United States. Although there are far fewer mustangs than there used to be, their population increases rapidly enough that the American Bureau of Land Management is working to adopt some of them out.
These feral horses escaped from horses brought to Australia by European settlers. With different breeds including Thoroughbred, Arabian, and Australian Draught in their ancestry, they don’t have a consistent appearance.
Hardy, intelligent, athletic brumbies are well-adapted to Australian wetlands, forests, rocky ranges, and tropical grasslands. In fact, with a population of at least 400,000 animals, they’re known to damage vegetation and cause problems for cattle farming, leading to control efforts ranging from fencing to culling.
Dartmoor and Exmoor Ponies
In 2 different English moorlands roam Dartmoor and Exmoor ponies, owned by either private individuals or national park authorities. Both breeds have a thick, woolly lower coat and an oily top coat that snow slides off, plus a coarse mane and tail. Both types of ponies were used historically in mining.
Exmoor ponies are related genetically to the Przewalski’s horse and nearly went extinct in 1946. They’re rounded up annually to establish ownership and apply tags or other marks. Both Exmoor and Dartmoor ponies are down to several hundred animals grazing in the UK, with other ponies in other parts of the world.
This ancient, greyish-white horse breed lives in southern France, grazing in saltmarshes. The animals roam freely but are gathered annually for counting and branding. They’re often used on ranches or for guided rides for tourists.
Do you have a favourite out of these wild, feral, and semi-feral horses? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.