Heck Horse

Heck Horse photo
Heck horse in Haselünne, Germany
Photograph by Kyloe. License: Public Domain.

Heck Horse photo
Heck horse in Sababurg, Germany
Photograph by JeLuF. License: Public Domain.


The Heck is a small horse breed, bred to resemble the wild Tarpan horse. Hecks are about 13 to 13.2 hands high. The head is large, with thick, strong neck and big jaws. The body is well-balanced with low withers, strong legs and hind quarters. The hooves are very tough and never require shoes. Hecks often display primitive markings such as zebra stripes on the legs or a dorsal stripe, a darker strip of hair running from the mane to the tip of the tail.

13 - 13.2 hands

Heck horses are dun in color. This is a smoky gray color with the face and legs being darker than the body. The mane and tail are flaxen.

The Heck is a calm, gentle, friendly and affectionate animal. They are also intelligent and willing and will put in a full day's work. They are quite stubborn but not prone to over reaction. Their wild nature makes them quite independent.

Suitable for
Some Hecks are used for riding, although most Heck owners are mainly breeders who are trying to increase the numbers of this breed. Hecks are strong horses and many owners participate with them in North American Trail Ride Conference (NATRC) Trail Rides. Hecks are also used for working with cattle and other livestock. They are easy to ride, as they are gentle enough to carry children and strong enough to carry adults. Hecks are currently used in riding for the disabled programs.

Hecks are quite hardy and independent and do not require any special care. Like other horse breeds, they require plenty of food and exercise. Due to their wild nature, they like spending time outdoors, so providing them with frequent outdoors access is a must.

The Heck breed was developed in the 1930's by German brothers Lutz Heck, a zoologist and director of the German zoo and Heinz Heck also a zoologist. Their goal was to bring back the extinct Tarpan, a wild equine. In order to achieve that they crossbred several breeds of ponies and horses that are descended from the Tarpan. The first contemporary Tarpan, or Heck horse, was born on May 1933 in Munich, Germany. The breed was first introduced in the United States in 1953.

The Heck breed is quite healthy and hardy. It is known for its high fertility rate and strong immune system. Hecks live 25-30 years.