The Konik is largely derived from the wild horse Tarpan and resembles him in appearance and strong character. It is robust and strong, but people-friendly and willing to work. More and more nature conservation projects are using these little horses to care for their landscapes.
But the breed is also enjoying increasing popularity in the field of recreational riding. Its small size will delight children and novice riders.
Although Koniks are not suitable for showjumping or high dressage, there is a lot of potential in them, whether for trail riding or in front of the carriage.
The Konik is a small horse, which is on average 130 cm to 140 cm tall. This small size makes it very popular with children and beginners.
But taller people can also ride a Konik because these horses can carry heavy loads due to their physique. They even reach a face between 280 kg and 370 kg. The robust ponies are very people-friendly and easy to get along with.
There are two different types of taper. The original type has a sturdy build and a height of up to 140 cm. These animals are mostly used exclusively for breeding or landscaping. The sporty type of the Konik has a lighter build with a height of up to 145 cm.
It was created by crossing a thoroughbred from Arabian and English. It is used as a recreational horse for trail riding or as a distance horse. Sports performances such as jumping or dressage are not suitable for this breed of horse.
Koniks are sexually mature at around 2 years of age. They are considered very fertile – the mares can still give birth to foals when they are over 20 years old. The gestation period lasts 11 months. In Germany, more and more Konik herds are used in nature reserves for landscape maintenance.
They prevent the landscape from becoming overgrown and thereby create habitats for other mostly rare or protected animals (e.g. birds, insects).
Size: 130-140 cm
Weight: 280-370 kg
Lifespan: 25-30 years
Color: Gray or black falcons with wild markings, Isabelles, gray and brown
Leisure time, draft horse
Origin and breed history
The term “Konik” comes from Polish and means little horse or horse. Its appearance is similar to the wild horse type such as the tarpan.
However, the Konik does not emerge directly from the wild horse breeds that were originally native to Eastern Europe and especially to Poland’s forests. These free-living wild horses were distributed to the farmers in the area at the beginning of the 19th century.
These tamed the horses and crossed them with their domestic horses. The result was robust and willing animals that were mainly used in agriculture. They were considered reliable draft and carrying horses.
In the 1920s, the Koniks attracted the interest of Polish agriculture professor Tadeusz Vetulani. He is considered to be the namesake of the Konik. He wanted to go back to the original Tarpan breed through pure breeding.
Through natural selection, he tried to re-establish the various characteristics of the original breed – such as white winter fur or standing mane. The first stud farms were set up with the aim of preserving this Polish breed.
The Second World War ruined these efforts, however, as all animals were conscripted as a means of transport for the troops.
After the Second World War – around 1950 – researchers rebuilt the breed with the remaining Koniks and established Popielno as the main breeding location for the breed.
In 1990 a protection and conservation program for the Konik Polski breed was established in Poland. Today the Konik is mainly used for landscape maintenance in wild herds or reserves and for breeding experiments.
Warm and thoroughbred horses are increasingly being crossbred in order to get better riding horses.
The appearance of the Konik
The appearance of the Konik is reminiscent of its ancestors. Overall, it appears robust and powerful. The typical colors are gray or black falcons with a dark eel line on their back.
Isabelle (yellowish to gold-colored fur), molds, and browns are also less common. Many Konik has pronounced zebra stripes on their pasterns. The long hair is dense and lush. There are Koniks withstanding, hanging, and tilting mane.
Often it has a bit of dropping (longer hair on the fetlock joint). The head is medium in size with a straight or slightly concave profile. The Konik has small ears and lively eyes, as well as a striking, dense head.
The neck is short but strong. The shoulders are steep and the withers very low, which is why the Konik can be stretched well into a harness. It has a broad and deep chest typical of the breed. The back of the Konik is wide and long and ends in a medium-deep tail.
The tail is – like the mane – very dense. While the trunk is long with pronounced arching of the ribs, the croup is rather short and muscular. The generally strong constitution continues to present itself with short and strong legs, dry joints, and hard hooves.
In winter the fur becomes thicker in order to be insensitive to the cold. In some Koniks, the fur brightens a lot in winter.
Temperament and essence
A sociable character is ascribed to the Konik. They are considered to be frugal and also get along with relatively little food.
They are friendly and approachable towards people, even if they grew up outdoors. In mixed herds, they demonstrate the strength of character and also prevail against large horses.
Usually, Koniks have a balanced character.
Properties of the Konik
- Calm and relaxed
- Not shy, tame
- People friendly and reliable
- Strong-willed and a little stubborn
As trail riding horses, they prove to be tough and persistent. In the field of recreational riding, they are willing to perform with a high level of intelligence and motivation.
Koniks are also good as carriage horses. The Konik is a herd animal and needs the company of conspecifics. Therefore, the horses should be kept in a group, the so-called herd association.
Within this association, the animals consolidate their ranking. While this can seem aggressive, it is usually bloodless and without serious injury. The herd association is led by both a lead stallion and a lead mare.
The lead stallion is usually the most dominant stallion in the group. It is his job to protect the mares and foals from enemies and to pass on his genes.
He always has to defend his position against younger stallions. The lead mare, on the other hand, is usually the oldest and most experienced of the herd.
She knows the best and safest feeding places knows when the herd needs hiking breaks and sometimes mediates disputes between herd members.
Husbandry and nutrition
The Konik can stand outside all year round because it has a thick coat that is insensitive to the cold in winter. Here, however, a shelter should also be available to him in which he can protect himself from wind and moisture.
It is true that it feeds on perennials, grasses, or bushes and is frugal. In winter, however, you should feed them with hay.
It is not necessary to add the concentrated feed. Koniks are not suitable for keeping in stables and often get sick. Koniks, who live exclusively in the open air, practice more intensive grooming themselves than their peers in the stable.
For this, they need trees to scratch and a sandy area to take a “bath”. You have to consider this when choosing the location.
Upbringing and care
Koniks can be brought up relatively well because they are friendly towards people and generally willing to learn. However, their strong self-will requires consistent and patient training.
Regular training and contact with people is therefore essential.
Compared to warm and thoroughbred breeds, Koniks require little maintenance by humans. Usually, Koniks groom themselves or each other within their herd.
To do this, they nibble at each other, scratch trees, or wallow in the mud or sand bath. If the Koniks are only kept for landscape maintenance, the maintenance by humans should only compensate for restrictions due to the keeping.
In the case of Koniks, which are also ridden, grooming also includes cleaning. It not only helps you look beautiful but also massages and loosens your muscles through rhythmic movements.
In addition, daily interaction with people strengthens trust and social contact. However, you shouldn’t brush too vigorously on grazing horses, as you could easily brush the sebum from the skin.
This layer protects the horses from rain and cold. It is sufficient to brush the coarsest dirt off the fur before riding.
Health and Typical Diseases
As a rule, the robust small horses enjoy excellent health. If the diet is too nutritious, illnesses can occur. Stalled Koniks are more prone to illnesses such as respiratory diseases.
But as a keeper, you also have to be careful when it comes to grazing. In spring, for example, the grass in the pasture can be too energetic. The so-called robust horses (horses kept outdoors) often tend to be overweight and the resulting metabolic diseases.
You can limit the feed intake on the pasture and expand it with low-energy hay.
In principle, however, these horses should not go hungry, because if they are hungry they will eat anything (including sand, earth) and secondary diseases such as constipation can occur.
The life expectancy of the Konik
In good housing conditions, Koniks have a very high life expectancy and can live to be 30 years or more.
Buy Konik horse breed
Would you like to buy a frugal companion or a reliable landscaper? Then the Konik could be something for you. A horse is a living being that needs food and care.
Therefore, you should consider a few points before purchasing:
1. What am I getting the animal for?
Would you like to ride the Konik or should it just stand in a pasture?
2. Do I have enough time to take care of the Konik?
The horse needs care and affection on a daily basis. The individual time required of course depends on the type of posture. If you only stand the horse in the pasture or in the reserve, there is no need for work such as cleaning or training.
However, you should also check the horse at least twice a day and check feeding places and fences.
If the Konik is also ridden, you need more time every day for cleaning, training and the accessories also need regular care.
3. Where do I put the horse?
Koniks shouldn’t be kept indoors, but rather outdoors. If you want to ride the horse, the pasture should not be very far from a stable in which you have stored the accessories.
4. Are my financial resources sufficient?
After the purchase, you will have fixed monthly expenses for the horse. Should the horse get sick, the costs could be even higher.
You also need certain basic equipment (cleaning kit, bridle, saddle, halter, etc.). 5. Are my skills enough to ride a Konik? Even if the Koniks are willing and people-friendly, they can still appear stubborn and defiant.
You need a consistent and regular way of working. For a Konik you have to reckon with acquisition costs of around 1,000 euros to 5,000 euros, depending on how old the animal is and what training it has already enjoyed.
In general, there are also monthly maintenance costs of $400 to $600 for storage space, feed, horse liability, and veterinarian.
There are different ways to buy a horse: breeders, dealers, horse markets, or from private individuals. There are a large number of Konik horses on offer on the Internet.
You should make the purchase decision calmly. It is advisable to seek advice from someone who is familiar with these horses. A good seller or breeder makes sure that his horse comes into good hands.
He will therefore examine you just as you examine him and the horse. He will also give you time and not put you under pressure.
What is a Konik?
The Konik is a pony breed from Central and Eastern Europe.