What the Heck?

 In Breeds

For those wanting to take a “walk on the wild side” and feel what it would be like to walk amongst some ancient horses, look no further than our own backyard. Shalom Wildlife Zoo in West Bend, WI is home to three Heck (tarpan) horses. The Heck horse is a “modern ancient” horse that closely resembles the ancient breeds of horses.

In researching the breed for our article, I took a ride up to Shalom to photograph and meet these horses. David Fechter, co-owner of Shalom met me there and introduced me to the herd, Princess, Prince, and Duke.  As we walked into their area, the herd peeked from between the trees and curiously walked towards us.They greeted us with a gentle kindness and welcomed us into their herd. It was very tranquil and Zen-like.


Princess, the first Heck to arrive at Shalom Wildlife Zoo

Like the breeds interesting history, these three have had an interesting journey of their own.  Princess was born in February 2001 and was sold to a petting zoo in Florida, the petting zoo went bankrupt and a lady from Wisconsin bought her at auction. She eventually ended up at Shalom in 2012.  


Prince, a former stallion and father of Duke

Fechter was intrigued with the breed, did his research, and contacted Helen Dixon from Dixie Meadows Farm. Turns out Dixie Meadows Farm was looking for Princess. She was the last Heck horse they were unable to locate.  Dixon then donated Prince, a stallion, to Shalom in 2013.  The two were bred and  had four foals, three of which live here in Wisconsin. 


The last foal, Duke, was born in 2019 and currently resides at Shalom. Duke and Prince are gelded. All three have their forever home, as a herd, at Shalom.

Fechter, “These horses make me want to love them.”

Take Care,


Full article on the Heck horse can be found in our Fall/Winter 2020 issue https://themidwestequestrian.com/fall-winter2020/

Shalom Wildlife is situated on 100 acres and home to more than 750 animals, which live in a natural type of environment. There are four miles of trails, so make it a day and walk around and meet the other animals For more information https://www.shalomwildlife.com

More information on the breed https://thcponline.org


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