Have you ever watched a group of horses running free in a large field? Their grace and beauty is a sight to behold.

Hundreds of years ago, horses roamed wild and free in many areas of the United States. Over time, though, many of these horses were caught and tamed. Once horses were tamed — also called domesticated — they could be used for transportation and to do all sorts of different types of work.

So are there any wild horses left? Sort of! The answer is not a simple one. The wild horse is a specific species called Equus ferus. Within this species, there are a few subspecies, including the modern domesticated horse (Equus ferus caballus) and the undomesticated Tarpan and Przewalski’s Horse.

Unfortunately, the Tarpan became extinct in the 1800s. Przewalski’s Horse almost became extinct, but it was saved and reintroduced into the wild. Today, Przewalski’s Horse is a rare endangered species that can only be found in limited numbers in Mongolia and China.

What most people think of as “wild” horses are actually feral horses, such as the Mustang. These feral horses are actually untamed descendants of the subspecies of domestic horses. Therefore, they’re not truly “wild” horses, but merely domestic horses that haven’t been tamed.

To be truly “wild,” these feral horses would need to have biological ancestors that were never domesticated. However, they are “wild” in the sense that they are untamed and live on their own in the wild unlike modern domesticated horses.

Herds of feral horses can be found in several places around the world. For example, the Brumby is similar to the American Mustang and can be found throughout Australia. Other feral herds can be found in Portugal, Scotland and barrier islands along the Atlantic coast of North America, from Nova Scotia to the outer banks of North Carolina.

Some of the most popular feral herds can be found on Assateague Island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland. The horses are split into two main herds. The United States National Park Service manages the Maryland herd, while the Virginia herd is managed by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.

These feral herds remain untamed and have grown accustomed to the tough living conditions on the island, which include hot weather, huge mosquito populations, severe storms and poor food supplies. Many children first learn about the Assateague horses from Marguerite Henry’s famous book called Misty of Chincoteague.

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    • Siddman, it’s great to see you today! We hope you have learned a lot about horses of all kinds– extinct and those that still exist! We LOVED your idea about farmers having horses as pets, but we are glad that you’ve WONDERed with us and learned something new! Great job! :)

  1. We liked looking at the wild horses, we thought they were cute. We also looked at other endanged species.

    Can we have another clue for tomorrow’s wonder?

    • HELLO to all of our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Bayko’s class! We are glad you’re riding along with us as we Wonder about wild horses today! Isn’t it interesting to see all the different types of horses? :)

      We can’t wait to Wonder with you tomorrow– we Wonder if you’re up for a chemistry lesson! :)

  2. I thought this wonder was cool I have a horse and thought it was awsome. I never knew that stuff about horses. How come the Tarpan became extinct??

    Thanks

    • Good morning, Rosemary! Thanks for commenting about our horse Wonder today! We love your enthusiasm for horses, especially since you have one! We Wonder if you ride on a regular basis, or if you are just beginning to learn? :)

      An animal that becomes endangered sometimes become extinct, just like the Tarpan.

      Check out our past Wonder about endangered species:
      Wonder #152– How Does a Species Become Endangered? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-does-a-species-become-endangered/ :)

    • A BIG HELLO to all the WONDERful students in Ms. Ramsdell’s class! We are THRILLED that you are Wondering with us today– horses are such interesting and beautiful animals!

      We are so excited that you are WONDERing every day– it’s so much fun and a great way to start the morning! We can’t wait to Wonder with you tomorrow about our old and new idea! :)

    • Hello to all the WONDERful students in PlvRoom8! Thanks for joining us on our journey as we learn about horses today! We think horses are super COOL and are probably very different in the wild compared to a trained animal. We Wonder if the photographer used certain gestures to put the horses at ease when taking pictures! We are so excited that you’re thinking about all the different aspects of wild horses, including what goes into the pictures we see! GREAT JOB! :)

    • What a SUPER passion to have, Amos! We are so glad you enjoyed today’s Wonder about horses– you must be an expert! We think horses are pretty great, too and we are so glad to be WONDERing with a horse lover like you! Thanks for sharing, Wonder Friend! :)

  3. I really, really love horses and being able to see them in the wild would be sooooooo cool! Some people catch wild horses and I really disagree with that. I have really ridden a horse in the desert this summer, don’t you think it would be cool if we saw some wild horses? Talk to you later.

    • Hi there Seddy, we are so excited that you shared your comment with us today! We love your opinions about letting the horses roam freely and we are so happy that you have learned so much about them, too! We think you’ve been doing a STELLAR job of WONDERing and we are really happy to have a Wonder Friend like you! :)

  4. Wow! Me and my friend were kind of surprised when we saw a picture of wild horses because I read that untrained horses get scared at something as small as even a plastic bag in the wind and a flash would do the same and more. We didn’t even know that there were still wild horses! We thought that farmers and ranches had taken them but we guess that we were wrong! Way to go to those horses that still roam free!

    From Mrs. Statnyk’s class

    • Hi there Cabj and the students in Mrs. Statnyk’s class! We think it’s SUPER that your friends have been WONDERing about wild horses and thinking about what they could fear. You’ve been doing a SUPER job of connecting the dots between farmers, ranch hands, trainers and the horses themselves– way to go! We hope you have a WONDER-filled day, Wonder Friends! :)

    • Hello to all our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Foster’s class! Thanks for commenting and WONDERing with us today– you’ve been doing a great job of using your imagination! We Wonder if any of you have ever trained an animal of your own, such as a dog, cat or bird? Do you think training a horse would the same or different than training another animal? We hope you have fun using your imaginations and figuring out how to tame a wild horse! Have a WONDERful day, Wonder Friends! :)

    • Hey there, Tiauna! Thanks for joining us as we Wonder today! We are so happy you shared your AWESOME guesses with us… we Wonder when we’ll see you next! :)

  5. Hello from Mrs. Turner’s Reading Class!
    What a great Wonder today! We learned that there were types of horses that are now extinct, and that is sad, and that one breed of horses is endangered. We also learned that horses are running wild on islands, that is pretty cool.
    –An additional wonder about horses we have is how horses get trained and why horses are so big.

    –Our prediction about tomorrow’s wonder is volcanoes! :-) Thank you!
    Mrs. Turner’s Fifth Grade Reading Class

    • Hello to all our COOL Wonder Friends in Mrs. Turner’s Fifth Grade Reading Class! We hope you are enjoying reading along with us as we Wonder about horses today! Thank you for sharing your comment about all the WONDERing you’ve been doing after reading our Wonder of the Day®! We are so proud of the great job you’ve done summarizing what you have learned today, too!

      We are really glad you suggested your own Wonders about training, too! We will start using our imaginations to crank out a new Wonder soon! SUPER guesses for tomorrow– we can’t wait to see you again! :)

    • What a great day to Wonder with the awesome 3rd grade students using their imaginations with Mr. P in the library! :)

      How awesome that you are thinking about wild horses today, especially how to act if you ever spot one in the wild. We think it takes a lot of patience and practice to ride a wild horse– you have to form a relationship with the horse and build trust. If anyone has a pet at home that they love, you can relate! It probably took some time to train your pet to know the difference between what is acceptable indoors and outdoors. We Wonder if you can pretend you’re out in the wild. How would you safely and calmly approach a wild horse if you needed to ride it?

      Thanks for sharing your comment with us today, Wonder Friends in Miss Morrow’s class! :)

  6. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We knew that Mustangs were a type of car, but we never knew that it was another name for a wild horse. Were the horses in the video wild, and if so, how did the photographer get them to be so gentle with him?

    We think tomorrow’s wonder will be about the new Disney movie, called Frankenweenie. :)

    • What a super connection you made! We are so happy that our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class are WONDERing about horses with us today! WOHOO!

      We think you have a great question, too! The horses who live in the wild must be approached with caution and care. The photographer might have learned how to safely approach horses, or perhaps the photographer stayed far away from the horses when taking the pictures and used a very special camera lens.

      We think your guess is great for tomorrow– we can’t wait to find out what tomorrow will bring! Have a WONDERful day, friends! :)

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed today’s horse Wonder, Wonder Friend C! We are glad you’ve learned something new and we hope the rest of your day is filled with Wonder! See you soon! :)

  7. Dear Wonderopolis,

    Thank you for sharing the video of the beautiful and graceful horses. This made us wonder about other feral species and where they live

    Thanks for helping us wonder!

    • Hello to all the WONDERful students in Mrs. Smith’s class! We are so happy that you’re WONDERing with us today! How COOL that you learned something new about feral species– we Wonder if you have seen any other types of wild animals!

      We are sending you virtual high fives for a great day of WONDERing! :)

    • Hi Taylor, thank you for sharing your post. We appreciate your comment and agree with you– the horses are very beautiful! We hope you have a SUPER day, Wonder Friend! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I love mustangs. They are the most interesting animals in the world. I know the names of the extinct horses. I have once ridden a retired race horse. I was the jockey.
    ~Luke

    • Hey Luke, thanks for commenting on our wild horses Wonder today! We Wonder how you learned to ride a horse– it sounds like a very cool experience! Jockeys certainly have a lot of work to do when it comes to riding, but they seem to love the horse just like you might love a pet! Thanks for joining the fun– we will see you soon, Wonder Friend! :)

  9. I think this video was educational super fun to see, as well I learned many new thing about horses! Did you know hundreds of years ago, horses roamed wild and free in many areas of the United States? Over time, though, many of these horses were caught and tamed. These feral herds remain untamed and have grown accustomed to the tough living conditions on the island, which include hot weather, huge mosquito populations, severe storms and poor food supplies. Many children first learn about the Assateague horses from Marguerite Henry’s famous book called Misty of Chincoteague. Lastly I learned that to be truly “wild,” these feral horses would need to have biological ancestors that were never domesticated. However, they are “wild” in the sense that they are untamed and live on their own in the wild unlike modern domesticated horses. I wonder how many hours are untamed today? I predict those tomorrow’s wonder will be about 9/11 and what happened, or it maybe about the damage or the history.

    • WOW, you have done a great job of WONDERing today, Jules! We are glad you understand that there are wild horses, and horses that can be wild! :) It can be a bit confusing, so we are glad that you are doing a great job of WONDERing! Thanks for guessing what tomorrow’s Wonder will be– you’re correct about the “damage” part… but it’s a very different type of damage! :)

  10. Ah, the half and half wild ones. I learned a lot today, for a example that their technically are still wild horses living today. Amazing that there are still wild horses. Also I learned that most former wild horses mostly died out. Finally I have learned that wild horses have to have pure wild blood without being tamed through his or her family. Are wild horses aggressive around humans and other possible threats? I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about trees.

    • Nice work today, Matt D! We like that you’re discovering that wild horses still exist today– and how neat that the true wild horses have never been tamed in their lineage! We think that many horses would react differently depending on their surroundings, but if they feel threatened, they will defend themselves. However, many people are trained to approach animals in a calming way, which puts even wild horses at east. Great job today, Matt D! :)

    • Hey Karla, we are so happy that you’re commenting today! We think that your appreciation and love of horses is AWESOME and we are so glad we could Wonder about them together. Rest assured, there are still horses that roam free and wild! Have a SUPER day! :)

    • Hey there Kylos, thanks for sharing your thoughts about wild horses! We think it’s great that you’re WONDERing on your own about wild animals– we Wonder if you have seen any other animals in their natural habitats? Have a GREAT day, Wonder Friend! :)

  11. I think all wild horses are gentle because when the horses are tamed they don’t always have to be nice and wild horses are gentle because they don’t have people telling them what to do or making them work. Wild ones get to run around, have fun, not hurt. The tammed ones don’t have space to run and play its just not fair for them!!!!

    • Great job summarizing today’s Wonder and what you think, Grace! We are so HAPPY to hear that you love wild horses as much as all of us here at Wonderopolis! Have a super night and we hope you keep WONDERing about horses running freely outside! :)

    • WOW, that sounds like a WONDERful way to spend a vacation, Chris M! Thanks for sharing how you relax… we Wonder if you’ve been able to capture any photos of these wild horses, like today’s Wonder! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

  12. Hey cool wonder!! I’m from New Zealand and in NZ we have some wild horses called Kaimanawa Horses and they are beautiful!! They came to New Zealand when the Europeans first settled in our country. Pretty cool huh? :) I <3 Horses, it was just the other day when I learned to canter!! SOOOOO COOL! I agree with Mrs. Wall’s 4th grade class, I think tomorrow’s wonder will be about Frankenweenie! :D Talk to you again tomorrow! Can’t wait to find out what it is!!

    • Anna, we are so happy you have shared such a cool fact with all of us here at Wonderopolis! We bet those Kaimanawa horses are gorgeous and graceful! HOW COOL that you are riding horses yourself– what an accomplishment to learn to canter! Way to go! We can’t wait to Wonder with you soon! :)

  13. WOW! In this article I learned sooooo much!!! Thanks for creating such an amasing website for people young and old to learn so much more about the world around us!
    :P

    P.S. I’m really looking forword to tomorrow’s WONDER OF THE DAY®!!!!

    • WAHOO we are so excited that you’ve commented, Narwhal! Thanks for joining our group of Wonder Friends today so we could use our awesome imaginations together! We love learning with great Wonder Friends like you, Narwhal! We will see you tomorrow for lots more fun to be had! :)

  14. WOW don’t you just love horses?! They are such amazing creatures!

    P.S. Do you have any wonders about narwhals? I love them so much that my “user name” is narwhal! (at school, I’m known to LOVE narwhals!!!)

    • We certainly do love horses, Narwhal, and we love WONDERing about animals and mammals, too! We think it’s fascinating to understand their history and how there are still wild horses that roam completely free! We like your username, Narwhal, and we think you’re going to enjoy a Wonder from the past:

      Wonder #489– What is a Narwhal? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-narwhal/ :)

  15. I have seen the wild horses on Assateague Island- they are truly beautiful and amazing to watch…saw them for the first time in the summer of 2011…thanks for sharing this informative piece about the horses! I learned so much!

    • Thank you for sharing your wild horse experience, Amy! We imagine seeing those horses up close and personal was truly amazing– it’s WONDERful to experience animals in their natural environments, too! Thanks for connecting our horse Wonder to your visit to Assateague Island– all our Wonder Friends are so lucky that you’re here! :)

  16. Hundreds of years ago, horses roamed wild and free in many areas of the United States. Some of the most popular feral herds can be found on Assateague Island off the coasts of Virginia and Maryland. Unfortunately, the Tarpan became extinct in the 1800s. Przewalski’s Horse almost became extinct, but it was saved and reintroduced into the wild. Today, Przewalski’s Horse is a rare endangered species that can only be found in Mongolia and China.

    • Great job summarizing the horse Wonder, Sasha! Another Wonder Friend, Amy R. visited Assateague Island to see the wild horses in person! We hope you had a great time WONDERing with us about wild horses and their history. Great job, Wonder Friend! :)

  17. I never knew that if a horse’s ancestors were tamed then it meant the horses born after it would not be a wild horse even if it was in the wild and not around people. Also Przewalski are very endangered species.

    • WOHOO, we are really happy that you’ve been enjoying a day of WONDERing about horses, Samantha! You’ve done a great job learning about wild horses and their family history! We hope you have a WONDERful day, Samantha! :)

  18. Thanks for writing me back wonderopolis! I think the video of him catching horses is sooooooooo cool! Keep making awesome videos like this. I look forward to seeing wonderopolis next Monday at library!

    • We’re happy to have great Wonder Friends like you, Reilly! We look forward to WONDERing again with you during library next week– in the meantime, keep up the SUPER WONDERing! We’ve got so much to learn about, it’s getting us so excited! :)

  19. We learned that we should respect animals. That means treat others the way you want to be treated. Who knew learning about wild horses would remind us of this golden rule?! Thanks Wonderopolis!

    • What a SUPER comment from Mrs. Cooper’s students today! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about humane animal treatment– we are so happy that you could make a connection between animals and the Golden Rule! We think you are GREAT WONDERers– hip hip hooray for Mrs. Cooper’s class today! :)

    • What an adventure, PD! We are so glad you shared your cool story about seeing wild horses with all of us here at Wonderopolis! Thanks for commenting today, PD! :)

  20. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I really like your website. I love the horses video I am a big fan of horses because they are fun to ride on and they are sweet, kind and nice. Thanks :)

    • WOW, thanks for your AWESOME comment, Aves! We are so glad that you’re here! Horses are super fun to Wonder about and we are glad you agree! :)

  21. Hey.. my sister loves horses but she taught me about horses but I never knew that there were wild horses and I thought that horses are for pets from farmers but there are wild horses I learned a lot from that so WOW!

    • Hi there Monkey geek! How cool that you and your sister have been learning about horses– and now you’ve learned something NEW! WONDERing is so much fun with great Wonder Friends like you! :)

  22. Hey can you post the monkeys tomorrow of the wonder please that’s why I love monkeys and my user name is Monkey geek. Can you post the monkeys or apes? :)

  23. Yeah I saw that before but… I want facts about apes or monkeys can you post it on tomorrow? For the wonder of the day please?

    • Hi there, Monkey Geek, thanks for posting your comment! :) We are always WONDERing at Wonderopolis, which means that we have a new Wonder of the Day® for our Wonder Friends to enjoy each and every day. It takes some time to get a new Wonder ready, too, because we do a lot of research and WONDERing before we can share it with our Wonder Friends. Thank you for your suggestion about a monkeys and apes post, we will certainly consider it. You can also nominate a Wonder on the site, too! If you are ever WONDERing about something in particular and want to suggest it, that’s a great way to send all of us at Wonderopolis a nomination! We are glad you’re WONDERing with us and we really love your enthusiasm, especially for monkeys and apes! Keep it up! :)

    • Hi there, Hope, thanks for sharing your comment with us! We bet it’s cool to listen to your cousin’s horse stories– we bet your cousin has a LOT of responsibilities! We hope you and Spirit have a SUPER day! :)

    • Great comment, Cutie Girl! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for our wild horse video– we’re glad you’re WONDERing with us today! :)

  24. Cascade is not my real name. It is my favorite horse’s name. I love horses and I know a lot about horses. The tarpan horse was extinct but a new modern version of them was discovered.

    • We think your code name, Cascade, is great! How cool that it’s your favorite horse’s name, too! We Wonder if you have any cool information to share about horses with us, Cascade? We really enjoy learning from our Wonder Friends, too! Thanks for sharing your SUPER comment! :)

  25. I NEVER KNEW THAT A HORSE WAS EVER ENDANGERED NOW THAT I KNOW I THINK WHEN I GROW UP I WILL HELP THE ENDANGERED HORSES AND PONIES IN THE UNITED STATES AND OTHER PLACES TOO THIS REALLY INSPIRED ME.

    • We think that’s a great idea, Horse Lover! We are proud of your determination for helping endangered animals, like horses, stay healthy and abundant! Keep up the great work! :)

    • HOORAY, we’re glad this Wonder was fun to horse around with, Abbey! We Wonder if you have ever seen a horse up close and personal?! :)

    • WOHOO, we’re so glad this Wonder is right up your alley, Maddie! We love horses too! Good luck with your WONDERful report! :)

  26. Hi wonderopolis I love horses with all my heart and wondering the app why are you shutting it down? Also we are reading a book called wonder is that any similar?

    • Hey there, Isabella! Thanks for your SUPER comment– we are glad you’re WONDERing with us! We have a Wonderopolis app, but it’s been under the weather lately. We’re working on it right now! :)

      Also, we’ve heard that the book, Wonder, is a SUPER great book to read! We are glad you shared that with us– thank you! :)

  27. Hi I’m Maddy I’m in Mrs. Caplin’s class. I have a connection because I read and adored Misty of Chicoteague. I never knew that feral horses were subspecies of domesticated horses. Do wild horses have reserved areas where people can not disturb them? As said in the video you have to earn a horse’s trust but how hard is it to domesticate the horse? Well I used to ride horses in an english saddle and I remember riding a green horse once (a horse not fully trained) it’s really hard but suppose a wild horse is scared of humans would you virtually have to teach them humans are not so bad? What would a horse be considered if it was born in a stable but as a foal released into the wild? How was it that the Native Americans tamed these horses so well? I think tomorrow’s wonder is about books because some are really old and some are brand new.

    • Hey there, Maddy11! We’re so glad you chose to Wonder about horses with us today! We know there is a LOT to learn about wild worses– there are different methods when it comes to training them and domesticating them. We Wonder if you can do some research of your own about different ways to train horses and help them become familiar with humans. Have a great night, Maddy11! :)

  28. Hi wonderopolis!!!I love horses and I have read Misty of Chincoteague and I simply adore Misty! I wish I could see and touch horses up close like in the video.I did not know about feral horses before and I also didn’t know that feral horses are divided into two groups. I had a great time wondering and learning about feral (wild) horses.

    • That’s great news, Olivia– thanks for WONDERing with us today! We’re thrilled to hear that you are having so much fun WONDERing about horses with us today, it’s fun to learn something new with great Wonder Friends like you! :)

    • HOORAY, we’re so glad this horse-rific Wonder made you smile today, Madi! Thanks for telling us about your love for wild horses. We Wonder if you have ever ridden a horse, or if you’d like to in the future? :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Julia! It sounds like this Wonder is right up your alley– how cool that you’re learning about horses in school right now! Thanks for telling us all about it- we hope to Wonder with you again soon! :)

    • You’re not alone, Dragon Girl, and we’re glad you’re WONDERing about the wild horses that do exist today! We hope you’re having a WONDERful weekend! :)

    • Hi Kristen! Thanks for WONDERing with us! We’re so glad you learned more about horses! Wonderopolis is still pretty young, but growing! We love WONDERing with you too! Keep WONDERing! :)

  29. I really liked the video at the beginning. It can be dangerous getting close to wild horses though. They can bite or kick. I love horses too.

    • We’re SO HAPPY to have you WONDERing with us about horses, Sophie! Thanks for sharing your thought about wild horses! We hope you WONDER with us again soon! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Are there still wild horses?
  • What is Przewalski’s Horse?
  • Where can you find feral horses in the United States?

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