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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Hucul   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Hucul (also known as 'Carpathian Pony') is a Polish/Romanian breed. Though it is sometimes referred to as a pony, the Hucul is actually a horse.

Hucul horses originate from the Carpathian Mountains where, during the 13th century, breeders crossed local Tarpan horses (a now extinct, feral breed) with Mongolian horses. Breeders usually kept their horses in semi-feral conditions, as this practice helped to maintain their hardiness and sure-footedness, as well as their ability to survive in the mountainous climate. For the next hundreds of years, these Hucul horses served as pack and riding horses for those who lived in the mountains.

Until the 19th century, there were no official breeding programs for Hucul horses. Accordingly, breeders were free to choose which traits they want to breed their horses for, and whether to cross them with other breeds. This created variability within the Hucul breed, as some horses were lighter and better suited for riding, while others were heavier and better suited for light draft work.

This changed in 1856, when an official breeding program for Hucul horses was established in Romania. The aim of the program was to breed Hucul horses in a pure manner, and to document their lineages and pedigrees. The program was successful and generated a sizeable herd of Hucul horses, many of which were used in the Austro-Hungarian cavalry.

In 1922, 32 horses of the breeding herd in Romania were sent to the National Stud Topolcianky in Czechoslovakia, so that Czechoslovakian breeders could start a Hucul herd of their own. The Hucual was doing well until the eruption of World War II, during which many Hucul horses were lost. After the war, the numbers of Hucul horses continued to decrease, and by the 1970s only 300 horses were left.

In 1972, a group of Czechoslovakian breeders, who worried that the Hucul would go extinct, established the Hucul Club to promote the Hucul horse. This act was successful, and not only that the numbers of Hucul horses increased, but breeders in other countries also imported Hucul horses to breed them as well.

Today, Hucul horses are found primarily in Eastern-European countries, especially in Romania, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. In addition, in recent years, the breed also became popular in the United Kingdom. That said, the Hucul is still rare, and, in some countries, is an endangered breed.

In terms of conformation, Hucul horses have a wide body with a rectangular frame. They have a convex profile, a neck that is thick and short, a back of medium-length, short legs, and small yet strong hooves. Their mane and tail are thick and can grow long.

The Hucul is a versatile breed that has excellent endurance, and a friendly personality. Hucul horses are usually used for show-jumping, driving, trekking, halter shows, and equitherapy.

Hucul horses come in the colors of bay, brown, black, and chestnut, with the latter being extremely rare. In addition, they often have a dun coat as well, or at least primitive markings. The coat is usually solid, but in rare cases it can be tobiano. White markings on solid coats are very rare and are usually restricted to the face. Hucul horses stand between 12.2hh and 14hh.


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