Wild Horse, Equus ferus

The Wild Horse (Equus ferus) is a species of the genus Equus, which includes as subspecies the modern domesticated horse as well as the undomesticated Tarpan, now extinct, and the endangered Przewalski’s horse. The Przewalski’s Horse was saved from the edge of extinction and reintroduced with success in the wild. The Tarpan became extinct during the 19th century, although it was a possible ancestor of the domestic horse, and roamed the steppes of Eurasia at the time of domestication. However, other subspecies of Equus ferus might have existed and could have been the stock from which domesticated horses are descended. Ever since the extinction of the Tarpan, some attempts have been made to reconstruct its phenotype, resulting in horse breeds such as the Heck horse and the Konik horse. However, the genetic makeup and foundation bloodstock of those breeds is considerably derived from domesticated horses and therefore these breeds possess traits.

The term “wild horse” is also used colloquially to be in reference to the free-roaming herds of feral horses such as the Mustang within the United States, the Brumby within Australia, and many others. These feral aren’t tamed members of the domestic horse subspecies and shouldn’t be confused with the two truly “wild” horse subspecies.

Horses that live in an untamed state but have ancestors who have been domesticated aren’t truly “wild” horses; they are feral horses. There are isolated populations of feral horses in numerous places, including Portugal, Scotland, and numerous barrier islands along the Atlantic coast of North America from Sable Island off of Nova Scotia to the Shackleford Banks of North Carolina. While these are frequently referred to as “wild” horses, they aren’t truly “wild” in the biological sense of having no domesticated ancestors.

Image Caption: Wild Horse, Equus ferus. Credit: GerardM/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)