All so called wild populations of Equus caballus extant today are likely to be descendants of once domesticated or captive animals that have either been set free, strayed, or escaped from man, reverting to a more natural way of life. In scientific parlance, these animals are considered “feral horses” or ponies.
The word feral has its origins in the latin fera, or wild animal, or ferus which is simply translated as wild. Modern dictionaries, propose in most cases two distict definitions as follows:
1)Existing in a wild or untamed state
2) Having returned to an untamed state from domestication.
From the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Many of these feral populations thrive on very marginal lands across the globe, occupying niches in many cases far removed from that for which they had evolved, but still they persist by adapting their behaviour to the new environments.
Unfortunately for many the word feral used in describing populations is often times synonymous of pest, vermin or something to be exterminated. For this reason alone, it is worth calling feral horses wild, although nothing will change their doemstic origin.
We caution you when considering the behaviour of equines, to look closely at the variables of the surrounding environments in which the studies have taken place. Variables such as the presence of predators, the availability of water sources or even the time of year will undoubtedly affect the individuals and the groups under scrutiny.
Furthermore human intervention in many of the populations undoubtedly alters the population dynamics, herd/band cohesion as well as affect the rates of competition among individuals. Care must therefore be taken when describing the behaviour of localized populations as representative or generic of the natural behaviour of Equus caballus found across the globe.