Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Monday, September 23, 2019

Curly haired Tarpan horses in Poland

Tarpan is a Tartar name meaning "wild horse", and was applied in 1780 by Pallas to describe wild horses that roamed the Eastern European steppes.

It was later used to designate the European wild horses (Equus ferus ferus) whose remains have been found in post-glacial sediments from the Holocene.

Their range surely extended east beyond Europe into Asia and primitive wild horses (i.e. Riwoch's horse of Tibet) found there may be related to them.

The Tarpans became extinct in 1879. They had been hunted down and killed by the farmers who were fed up with the stallions stealing their domesticated mares and also, that these herds ate their crops.

Modern "Tarpans" derive from wild horses captured in Bialowieza Forest, in Eastern Poland, in the 1780s. These were taken to the game park of Count Zamojki and, after it closed down in 1812, the horses were given to local peasants in Bilgoraj. Eventually these horses bred with others but retained part of the Tarpan genome.

Professor Tadeusz Vetulani (1897-1952) worked with these horses in the 1920s and "recreated" the Tarpan lineage, now known as Konik.

Below are two texts from the book The Natural History of Horses: The Equidae Or Genus Equus, by Charles Hamilton Smith, Conrad Gesner published in 1841. It describes the "curly haired" horse with "narrow hoofs" which is exactly what Azara described in Paraguay, South America, in 1802: the curly haired Pichaí, with narrow asnine-like hoofs and curly hair: (I have underlined the text in red)

These wild horses are surely the ones mentioned by Darwin (see my previous post) when he stated that there were curly haired horses in Russia. In fact this forest is now in Poland, but during most of the XIXth century, it was part of Belostok Oblast, a province of the Russian Empire.

Finally, some images of Tarpans, the first is "The tarpan wild horse", from Sir William Jardine The naturalist's Library 1840s. The photograph is from a page on the recreator of Tarpans, and seems to depict a Tarpan from the early 1900s.

Of course modern Tarpans have mixed with domesticated horses for thousands of years, so they are not the "original" wild pre-domestication horse that roamed the steppes from Poland to Siberia. But they do retain some of the characteristics of these primigenious wild horses.

What is the link between Tarpans and American Bashkir Curlies (now -after dropping the Bashkir part of the name- known as American Curlies)? Also, what are Bashkir's anyway? Are these "Russian" horses linked to the American ones?

That will be the subject of our next post. To be continued...

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2019 by Austin Whittall © 

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