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Country of Origin: Russia
Extinct Tarpan

Tarpan Horse

New Tarpan Breed

Tarpan Horse

Image from nuakin


The true wild Tarpan comes from Russia and is actually an extinct species, the last two on the planet died within a decade of each other in the late 19th century. Today’s version of the Tarpan, also called the Heck Horse is a genetic recreation of the old breed.

Tarpan Horse

Image from Andyppunkt


Essentially the Tarpan is one of the few wild equine that existed during prehistoric times & they are thought to be the ancestors of most modern breeds that come from the Russian Steppes. Originally they were found throughout eastern Europe & western Russia and became the foundation stock for many civilizations along the eastern Mediterranean.

For thousands of years this breed was a mainstay in many cultures & their blood is a part of a wide variety of modern breeds. They were hunted to extinction in a similar manner as the modern Mustang is today in the western US. Land was needed for farmers & wild herds used up precious resources, they were also hunted as a source of meat.

Once the Tarpan was gone, the Polish Government decided they needed to do something about it and they began collecting animals that resembled the breed. Many of them were Konik horses which are closely related cousins of the Tarpan. They used selective breeding practices to recreate the breed’s genetics as closely as possible.

The Heck brothers who were zoologists & directors of the Munich Zoo, also took on the project & were able to somewhat faithfully recreate the breed as well.

In the end, it is impossible to re-create an species that goes extinct, but the efforts of both teams was admirable. It is acknowledged that the Tarpan of today is not a pure descendant and those that were created by the Heck brothers are often called Heck Horses to differentiate (and pay homage to two brothers who wanted to bring the Tarpan back).

Today most of the new Tarpans are owned by private enthusiasts or zoos.


Average height 13 – 13.2 hands


Head is long and broad with a straight or convex profile
Ears are long, pointed and fall slightly sideways
Eyes are small & round
Neck is thick & short
Back is long & straight
Shoulder is sloped and long
Les are long & slender, but strong with broad joints

Traditional Colors

Always a shade of dun with primitive markings.


Calm, friendly & curious
Independent & stubborn
Intelligent & headstrong

Tarpan Horse

Image from Kersti_Nebelsiek


Riding horse
Light draft

Tarpan Products

Helpful Links

* all links open in a new window
The Extinction Website


Do you have images or know more about the Tarpan breed? I’d love help completing this page, please contact me to get involved.

Country of Origin: Russia | Colors:
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