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The Hucul or Carpathian dates to the 13th century and is believed to be descended from the crossing of the wild Tarpan with Mongolian horses brought to the area by migratory Mongol tribes. They have also been called the Hutsul, or Hutzul
The natural range for the Hucul or Carpathian, covers a great distance. For hundreds of years Huculs were bred in the Carpathian Mountain range under very difficult climatic conditions. Their habitat is the eastern Carpathians, called Huzulland.
Isolated from others horses, the breed developed into a resistant and robust small horse. As this small indigenous horse was used and bred by various peoples along this mountain range, differing types emerged and often the Hucul of one area appears quite different from the Hucul of another area
In the Soviet Union the Hucul was developed by Ukrainian people on the eastern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains.
In the Soviet Union three main types were formed, one more suited as a pack animal , another for harness or saddle, and a third draft animal. The lightest built Hucul is the pack type and is a very lean horse, harmonious in conformation ad found primarily in the foothills. The saddle/harness type shows less improvement by other breeds and is numerous, concentrated in the high mountains. The draft type shows characteristics of the Noric horse and Haflinger and is much more coarse than other Huculs and not as popular.
Many frontiers run together along this range of mountains, and with historical changing of borders through the centuries, Czechoslovakia and Hungary have bred this hardy little horse and both Poland and Romania claim origin of the breed.
A stud farm was first established in 1856 at Radauti (Romania), collecting some of the aboriginal animals which for centuries had bred in half wild conditions. Several bloodlines were established and the animals were bred only in purity. From these, 33 were sent to Czechoslovakia in 1922 to establish a herd and a new line was developed there, called the Gurgul.
The Second World War caused severe damage to the breed and numbers dwindled. An experiment was done to develop a larger type of horse for work in the forest by crossing Noriker and Haflinger blood to the Carpathian. The new type was called Slovakian Mountain Horse.
Horse lovers in Czechoslovakia were concerned over the lessening number of Carpathians in their country and established the Hucul Club in 1972 with four elderly mares and one stallion of the Gurgul line and have worked hard to ensure the survival of the breed.
Huculs are bred on lines formed by the foundation stallions. One of the most important, Goral, was a golden sorrel foaled in 1915. Used in the Transcaucasian region from 1920-25 he sired many offspring. All of his sons were named Goral, with numbers. Most were sorrel in color. Hroby (also spelled Groby) was black and sired small but very hardy, tough offspring.
The length of the Hucul’s body is greater than its height at the withers by a couple of inches, with a very broad deep chest and a level back. The large eyes and short ears are expressive with a muscular neck and the entire little horse is very strong, even the hooves. The Hucul usually has no need of shoes.
In color, bay, black, grullo, and chestnut are common. A dorsal stripe and zebra stripes on the legs are characteristic of the breed. They are a quality animal of easy maintenance, capable of living outside throughout the year, finding their own food. Illness is nearly unknown in the breed.
The legs are extremely strong and resistant, without known ailments. Height is from 13 to 14 hands. Having basically developed in the wild they are very sure footed. A high point of the breed is their ability to maintain good trotting speed on hills and over tight mountain trails.
Although small, the Hucul is considered to be a small horse and not a pony.
Due to a very docile temperament, the Hucul is a very good riding horse for children, and displays a natural aptitude for jumping, as well as superb endurance.