The tarpan was the Eurasian wild horse which used to live in the woods of Middle Europe and in the steppes of Eastern Europe and Russia.
The natural forest and steppe habitat of these wild horses was reduced more and more by the expansion of agriculture. Although forest tarpans
were only found in areas with spare settlement already during the 18th century, they still were declared as game fit for hunting in 1789.
There were small groups of wild forest tarpans in Poland until 1808 when they were caught and given to resident farmers.
Steppe tarpans became extinct because of the reduction of their living-space as well as because of the crossing with domestic horses.
They were hunted to prevent this crossing and because they were considered as a delicacy. The last wild tarpan is said to be killed in 1876 whereby the species was extinct.
In the 1930s the brothers Heck, who already had experience with the "back breeding" of the aurochs, tried to recreate the tarpan, too. Therefore they crossed Przwalski horses with Icelandic ponies
and Swedish Gotlands. In Poland there were efforts to achieve the tarpan's typical attributes by selection of a herd of koniks.
Of course, there is no way to identically recreate genetic material if once lost.
Characteristic attributes of today's tarpan back breeds are a rangy build with mouse-grey coat, a dark dorsal stripe, a two-coloured mane, a trim, straight head and
hard hooves. Besides the ponies are especially robust and insensible to weather and diseases.
At the moment, the herd in the Neandertal wild park consists of one stallion and three mares with their foals. They live outdoors most of the year.
During the winter months they live in a paddock with access to stables. This is a concession to the protection of the preserve area, since the ponies
can cause considerable damage to wet ground. All the more they are happy if they are allowed to enter their meadows on frosty days.
During winter months you can visit our tarpans at their meadow near the stone age workshop, while they spent most of the summertime
at the grass in the southern part of the wild park.