I was a tarpan. There was a whole herd of us, and we raced across the steppe, leaping over hills and ravines. The earth flew under our feet, and we were free from it, from the earth, and from the sky, getting cold over our heads, and from boring duty to return home to the stable.
We didn’t have a home, we didn’t have anything worth treasured on earth. We flew between the steppe and the sun, incinerating each other with the eternal heat of love, and maybe hate. We flew between two lights, like an arrow shot after us, or a bullet flying towards us. And at sunset, when, exhausted, the sun and the steppe were leaning towards each other, we alone did not feel tired.
We had nothing to do with the mustangs, with these past domestic horses, who refused to be reined but could not abandon many old habits. We have never been home. We always despised the bridle, even if it was pure gold.
“The chase was hopelessly behind. The wild mare, like a whirlwind, rushed through the snow-covered steppe, easily flying over large drifts that held her pursuers for a long time. in the endless steppe, several horsemen were driving a lonely wild mare. None of them could even get close to her, but at the next hollow new pursuers on fresh horses were waiting for the mare. They tried to direct her to the next group ne, taking this lethal baton. This went on for many hours.
The unfortunate victim was exhausted from fatigue, but until the last breath she fought for her freedom. The pursuit again lagged behind, and the free steppe loomed ahead. But suddenly a treacherous crack in the ice, powdered with snow, put an end to this tragedy: the mare with a broken leg fell to the ground, and her pursuers overtook her. They dragged loot to the sleigh and drove to the village of Agayman (not far from Askania-Nova), where a crowd of curious people were already waiting for them. Two days later, the wild mare died, even though she tried to make a splint on a broken leg. This is how the last representative of a once numerous family heroically defended her freedom until the very last day of her life ”
B. Grzhimek (1982)
Horses were an integral part of the nature of Eurasia, starting from the Pliocene
To the north they reached Taimyr and Chukotka. More than a dozen species have been described by paleontologists only in the territory of the former USSR (Catalog, 1981). These animals were found in various natural zones up to taiga and tundra, and were by no means tied to steppes and semi-deserts. There they survived man. The main thing horses needed was solid ground (Petzsch, Piechocki, 1986). Neither climate change nor other natural disasters have caused them much harm. They adapted to survive in a wide range of conditions and flourished until one of the representatives of the great apes lifted themselves to the throne of the king of nature. The subsequent cataclysms for many species of animals turned out to be worse than the ice age. Free and indomitable wild horses could not survive in the conditions of planetary tyranny of the same species. For a long time, they belonged to the main objects of human hunting. At least, such a stroke indicates the scale of their destruction: at the foot of one of the rocks near the town of Solutre in France, where for many years the herd was being driven to the precipice, they found bones of at least 100 thousand horses
One of the species, which lived almost to our days, was tarpan. This word itself is of Turkic origin. So nomadic tribes called wild steppe horses. The scientific name of tarpan is Equus caballus. He is a close relative of the Przewalski horse, many zoologists generally combine them into one species. In historical times, tarpan were widespread in Europe. There were two subspecies – forest and steppe tarpany. It is believed that the steppe horse was an ancestral form, the forest horse appeared later (Vetuliani, 1952). The forest subspecies met once practically throughout the entire forest zone of Europe. Cave paintings of primitive people indicate that in ancient times wild horses were common even in France and Spain. The Roman historian Varro wrote about their existence in Spain.
Fossils are found in Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Great Britain. Steppe tarpans lived in the steppe and forest-steppe zones of Eastern Europe from Prut to the Urals. To the north they reached Kiev, Chernigov, Voronezh. Vladimir Monomakh in his “Instructions for Children” recalled how he caught wild horses near Chernigov and Ros. Herodot wrote about herds of wild horses on the Southern Bug. Back in the 40s of the XVII century. herds of tarpan met on Trubezh near Kiev. Lithuanian Erasmus Stella, who wrote a book about the long-standing Prussia in 1518, testified that there were large herds of wild horses. Locals used their meat for food. The wild forest horse is mentioned in ancient German acts and statutes, the writings of medieval writers, folk legends and traditions. Envoy Gregory III Boniface, who in the VIII. engaged in the baptism of the pagans of Saxony and Thuringia, wrote that the local population willingly eats the meat of wild horses, to which the Pope replied that this is a barbaric custom. Back in the XV century. forest tarpany were found even on the Danish islands.
It was difficult for large forest animals to withstand human pressure. Due to severe persecution, deforestation, their livestock melted like snow in spring. In the XVII century. the last tour was lost, bison, bears, elks became less and less. By the XVI century. forest tarpan in Western and Central Europe were completely destroyed, small herds remained only in the dense forests of Prussia, Poland and Lithuania. The last great master of the Teutonic Order A. Hohenzollern contained forest Tarpans in his menagerie at Koenigsberg. They also lived in the park of Count Zamoyski in the Lublin Voivodeship. Last Tarpan tried to guard. The Lithuanian Statute prohibited the capture of wild horses that had shot Tarpan awaiting the death penalty (Yovchev, 1982). However, by the end of the XVIII century. they disappeared almost everywhere. Their last refuge was Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Catalog, 1981). According to others, the last forest tarpan was killed on the territory of the present Kaliningrad region in 1814.