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Polish Konik – Polish horse breed

Published: 2023-11-08 13:48:20 Categories: Guides Rss feed

Polish Konik is the oldest horse breed out of all nine Polish breeds. The ancestor of this breed is Tarpan. What are the characteristics of these famous ponies?Konik polski

Polish Konik – breed history

Polish Konik is one of the oldest Polish horse breeds. This breed descends from wild Tarpan that inhabited forests in the areas of Eastern Poland, Prussia, and Lithuania. At the end of the 18th century, all the Tarpans were caught and put into a zoo of Zamoyski count around Biłgoraj near Zamość. 25 years later, the horses were acquired by local farmers. The first attempt to create an organized breeding happened in 1923 in the National Horse Stud in Janów Podlaski and in 1928 in manor farm Dworzyszcze (near Krzemieniec, in today’s Ukraine).

In 1936, Professor T. Vetulani began the work on preserving the breed and gave it the name we use today – Polish Konik. This breeding was conducted in the Białowieża Forest and used horses imported from Biłograj. Unfortunately, during the Second World War, the stud was destroyed, and some of the horses were exported to Germany.

Luckily, a few horses have been saved and brought to Popielno in 1949. That is where the research and the breeding were continued. They bred two types of Polish Konik that are still known today:

  • Nature reserve stud – a small herd is kept in conditions similar to natural ones – all year turnout on a big area (breeding in Poland – Roztocze National Park and Biebrza National Park),
  • Stable stud – horses are kept in stalls and are regularly turned out (breeding in Poland: The Stallion State Stud in Sieraków, Horse Stud in Racot, Horse Stud in Dobrzyniewo, State Stud in Jeżewice, Popielno).

These days Polish Konik is the symbol of the Roztocze National Park; the silhouette can be seen in the logo.

In 2007, there was a program that focused on introducing Polish Konik in Bieszczady, in the former village of Radziejowa. The horses were kept in an adaptive enclosure and then after a few years, the horses were supposed to be released as a wild herd with hierarchy. The project aim was to prevent the overgrowth of depopulated areas - agricultural lands with shrubs and trees.

Polish Konik – anatomy and characteristics

Polish Konik has a primitive anatomy – small with a stocky body. What’s interesting, these horses do not need a fancy diet as they are known for their resilience and great health.

Another interesting fact is that these horses reach maturity quite late – sometimes it happens as late as 5 years old.

Konik polski

The head of the Polish Konik seems light in comparison to the rest of the body. They usually have straight line faces, wide foreheads, and thick yet short ears. The breed has a characteristic low set, wide, short, and straight neck.

The body of Polish Konik is rather elongated with a deep chest, full (often saggy) belly, as well as short, small, and vertically set shoulders. They often have a swayback and a sloping croup – similar to draft horses, this increases their pulling strength. The legs are short, often with bad posture and hard hooves that allow the ponies to move over a harsh terrain without shoes.

The mane and the tail are magnificent with thick, dense, and coarse hair. Just like the hair, the coat of Polish Konik is also quite thick.

  • Height: 134-136 cm
  • Weight: 300-400 kg

The coat colour of Polish Konik is unassuming – mouse grey with a characteristic primitive back stripe (just like Tarpans and other primitive breeds). Sometimes, these horses have a stripe on the hock and knee, very rarely do these horses have any other markings.

Konik polski z bliska

Polish Konik – importance

Polish Konik is frequently used in recreational riding. Thanks to its resilience, this breed is perfect for trail rides, especially over harsh terrain, and mountains. Polish Konik also makes a great teacher for young horse riding adepts and can nicely ride in a group – that is why this breed is often used in horse riding facilities.

The docile nature and the small size of this breed make it a perfect horse for children to practice their grooming before and after a ride. The small height also means increased safety – in case of a fall, the distance to the ground is smaller. Polish Konik is also a great breed for hippotherapy.

Thanks to the coat, the breed is relatively easy to groom (the dirt and stains are not visible on the coat). The thick mane gives the rider an opportunity to grab it when mounting or in case of loss of balance.

What’s interesting, the breed is more and more commonly used in farming and horticulture.

Polish Konik – price

This breed is relatively cheap in comparison to other Polish breeds. The price varies from 5000 up to 12000 PLN (around 1000 euro to 2700 euro) depending on the horse’s age or level of training.


Just like any other pony – Polish Konik can be very stubborn and assertive. Cooperation might be quite a task for a horse riding adepts. Yet the resilience to harsh conditions and strength tip the scale and make this an amazing horse breed.

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