|First Posted: July 14, 2009|
Sep 26, 2010
Pyrenean Tarpan part of the Konik Breed Type: In Poland-Pottok; In France-Navarre Pony; In Spain-Asturian; In Portugal-Garrano.
Pyrenean Tarpan is a breed that takes on a different name depending on the country. The Pyrenean Tarpan is part of the Konik breed type and the result of an attempt to preserve the purity of this type of horse. In Poland, they are called Pottok; in France they were called Navarre Pony, and in Spain they are Asturian, while in Portugal they are known as Garrano. The breeds are regional but very similar genetically. The Pyrenean Tarpan are the result of a focused attempt to preserve the purest remaining animals of this type. It is believed that these horses are the direct descendants of the Magdalenien Tarpans shown on the walls of the caves of Lascaux, Combarelles, Isturitz or Altamira.
After the last ice age, the warmer weather and higher rainfall caused deep forest to replace the moors in a relatively short time (about 2000 years). As a result in this change in environment the horses became brown and black to avoid predators and to keep the photons in this biotype very dark so they were drying faster when they were wet. The young horses retain their original Tarpan coloration for the first 3 months of life.
In 1990, groups and organizations studying the Pyrenean Tarpan have been working to conserve the remaining members of the breed. They released horses into various areas of the wild mountains to avoid inbreeding.
As the human population increased in the region the wild ponies were forced into the poorer areas and the high hills and mountains. This is the reason why, before 1950, it was possible to find these wild horses living free in the mountains from Basque-Country to Asturies and Galice. But since 1970, people have them with Welsh, Arabians, Spanish, Shetland, heavy horses as Bretons and Comtois, and the original wild subspecies of Pyrenean Tarpan was about to disappear by 1990.
The specific blood antigens of the original Pyrenean Tarpans is know from veterinary studies done in 1976. Using this criterion animals designated as Pyrenean Tarpans must have these specific antigens as well as pass a 56 point morphological exam.
Since 1990, an organization is working to study, find, and conserve the few last Pyrenean Tarpans. 20 mares and only 4 stallions (the oldest is now 30 years old) have been saved and this little group has been put into a reserve in the middle of a 8.500 ha of wild mountain. Since 1990, nine other groups of sometime 2 mares and a stallion have been introduce back in different wild mountains to avoid inbreeding.
It is believed that these horses are the direct descendants of the Magdalenien Tarpans shown on the walls of the caves of Lascaux, Combarelles, Isturitz or Altamira.
For More Information:Horse Breeds
Genetic Diversity Within and Among Four South European Native Horse Breeds Based on Microsatellite DNA Analysis: Implications for Conservation