The Dülmener Wildhorse - the little grey one from the Merfelder Bruch

They really do exist. 

 Wild horses living free in Germany. Up to 400 animals live in harmony with nature in a completely natural area of about 3.6 square kilometres in a nature reserve near Dülmen. There, oak forests alternate with coniferous forests and heath landscape with moorland and shrubs. This large wild horse enclosure is unique in Europe and the horse breed finds exactly the habitat that allows it to exist without human influence. The herd is an essential part of nature conservation and it is a priority to promote the population of the Dülmener as well as to secure their existence in the long term. Have we made you curious? Indeed, there are many interesting things to tell about this very special breed of horse with its typical eel markings. 


 The small dun horse living in the Merfelder Bruch was mentioned in documents as early as 1316. At that time, there were quite a few wild ponies in the area. At that time, however, it was much larger. It was only through agricultural use and land appropriation that the area was reduced to its present size. Thanks to the family of the Duke of Croy, who campaigned for the pony in the mid-19th century, the land was preserved. The Dülmen wild horse was actually not originally born as a pure wild horse. It evolved from domestic horses and wild Westphalian horses. It is said that the duke had 20 of them captured at that time. The origin of the pretty ponies is based on them.

Breeding Procedure

The main interest in breeding was and still is to ensure the preservation of the animals. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, the external appearance of the wild horses was no longer quite so uniform. The introduction of Welsh or Hutsuls brought too much colour into play. This improved from 1957 onwards, when Polish Koniks were crossed in. Since 1984, only their grey stallions have been allowed and the typical dun colour has been preserved from then on.

An annual horse catch in spring is important. It has been taking place since 1907. The growing young stallions from the herd are caught and sold by hand and without any aids. Reason: On the one hand, there would be continuous rivalries if there were too many stallions, and on the other hand, the space requirement for the mass of animals would then no longer be guaranteed.

The yearlings lose their freedom, but if they are kept under good conditions, they will quickly become accustomed to their new life. The path to equestrianism will soon no longer be an unknown path for them.

It is not uncommon for buyers to be members of a community of interest for the Dülmen wild horse or to be breeders themselves and to want to contribute to the preservation of the species through their purchase.

t may be important for you to know that only those animals may be called "Dülmener Wildpferde" that were actually born in the enclosure. The animals that are later bred by private breeders are only given the name "Dülmener" on paper. Unfortunately, the pony as a whole is still one of the highly endangered breeds of farm animals.


The pony from the Merfelder Bruch has very typical characteristics. On the one hand, there are its unmistakable dun shades, sometimes even with stripes on the legs. On the other hand, of course, there is the eel line drawn from the spine to the tail. With a height of 125 - 135 cm they are not giants and therefore belong to the ponies or small horses.

Proportionally, an expressive head with a relatively broad forehead, pretty eyes and small ears sits on the well set, slightly arched neck. This merges into sloping shoulders and an elastically muscled back. The withers are rather moderately developed as is typical for ponies, the chest is broad and the croup slightly sloping. Desirable is a rectangular format of the body with suitable depth of girth and appealing rib curvature.

The hindquarters are well muscled. The legs are, as befits a wild horse, equipped with sturdy tubes and dry joints as well as hard hooves.

A little fetlock and the dense long coat in mostly darker colour round off the original conformation of this pretty horse breed.

Character Traits

Despite its initially wild nature, the dun from Dülmen has a very good-natured and balanced nature. In fact, the "domesticated" among them do quite well in equitation. Their friendly nature and curiosity make training them as sport or leisure horses easier in any case. The sure-footedness they were born with naturally makes them interesting for off-road use. Even longer distances are not taboo for the persevering little ones. Even in front of a carriage, the dun horses make an excellent and visually appealing impression. All in all, an upscale leisure horse with the best all-round qualities.


It has surely already become clear that a Dülmen wild horse should not be kept in a cramped box, should it? The friendly little horse needs foresight, sufficient space, many conspecifics, nature, sun, clouds and wind around the nose.

For this breed of horse, a spacious open stable, perhaps with a great paddock trail and an equally friendly herd of ponies, is just the thing. This way, the long-lived animals can then also lead a contented, happy life outside their natural habitat.


Wild as peaceful, a small horse in a grey jacket can present itself. Yet the Dülmen wild horse is never a grey mouse. Its positive characteristics and especially its original genes make it so extremely valuable to us.

Have you now got the urge to see the smart pony live? No problem. Every year on the last Saturday in May, visitors to the Merfelder Bruch Arena can take part in the big catching action followed by an auction. An all-round spectacular experience for the whole family. You should secure your tickets in advance, as the event is always well attended. Have fun!

Animalon's brush tip for the "robust" Dülmener wild horse:

We recommend for daily skin care our Care Flex Root Brush. The root brush is ideal for cleaning the legs and helps you to remove heavy dirt in a short time.

We also recommend the Mane and Tail brush. 'Cause that's the kind of "wild mane" that wants to be tamed. With our Mane brush, you can comb even the thickest ones without knots.