The Heck horse is developed by the Heck brothers and thus they got their name. Heinz Heck and Lutz Heck were German zoologists and huge enthusiast of the Tarpan horse. They attempt to breed back and recreate the now extinct wild horse breed Tarpan as closely as possible, by rearranging and combining the genetic material of the living descendants. The Tarpan horse lived in Russia and eastern Europe and they are considered to be a foundation stock of many breeds along the eastern Mediterranean. The Tarpan was hunted for the horse meat and due to their overpopulation on valuable soil of the farmers.
It is impossible to recreate a breed that is extinct, but the efforts of the Heck brothers and another group of enthusiasts had paid off. They certainly did not recreate the Tarpan completely, but the descendants resemble to it a lot. For the breed back purpose they used several pony and small horse breeds from Europe that were assumed to be the living descendants of the Tarpan. Icelandic horse, Gotland mares and Konik horses were crossed with wild stallions, known as Przewalski’s horse. The Przewalski horses were used to drag out the wild features that were dormant in the domesticated pony breeds. The resulting colt of these crossbreeding was foaled on May 22, 1933 at the zoological garden Tierpark Hellabrunn in Munich, Germany.
The first imported Heck stallion in the United States was in 1954. Duke and two other mares, imported in 1955 were settled in the Chicago Zoological Park in Illinois. These three horses and another mare that was brought by a Zoo in Texas came from the Munich Zoo and all offspring of the Heck horse trace back to them four. The first North American Tarpan Association was established in the early 1960’s and its goal was to promote the breed. Today the breed is very rare and can be found or owned only by private breeders and zoos.
Crossbreeding the Heck horse with other large horse breeds are made in order to produce a larger horse that will have some primitive characteristics. Recently crosses were made in Canada with the Welsh pony and the Arabian horse, thus a new breed was produced by Dr. Peter Neufeld- the Canadian Rustic Pony. The Heck horse is used in Europe for producing hunters by crossbreeding them with Thoroughbred horses.
The height of the Heck horse varies from 12.2 and 13.3 hands. Their coat colors are usually dun and grullo, without white markings. They possess primitive markings, such as zebra markings on the legs and dorsal stripe, which actually appears always at dun horses.
The head of the Heck horse is long, large and broad with straight or slightly convex profile, set on a thick and short neck. The eyes are small and rounded and the ears are long, pointed and slanting. The withers are low; the back is long and straight and the shoulders are long and sloping. The legs are long and slender, but as the hindquarters they are very strong. The joints are wide; the hooves are well shaped and strong and they usually don’t need shoeing. The Heck horse has a high stepping gait, which gives the rider a comfortable and an attractive ride. Today the representatives of the breed are used mostly for pleasure riding, light draft work or as a tourist attraction in the Zoos. They are lovely creatures, calm, friendly and intelligent.
By solving the horse puzzle you’ll reach the end of a wonderful adventure, learning something more about this horse breed and its extinct ancestor. The Heck horses are curious, though independent and somewhat stubborn. Rearrange the pieces of the jigsaw and have fun!