The Tirpan (“TEAR-pan”, plural Tirpanis) can be called the "true wild horse" of Sarvonia. Characteristic for the Tirpan is its small sturdy, primitive build with short backs, thick necks and strong muscles. They are mostly found in the northern Tandala Highlands and the Mountains of Oro, in small herds of 15 or less, and are hunted by the Losh-Oc Orcs. Their smoked meat, called ‘Fyrflejs’ (“FEAR-Flice”) is eaten by the Losh-Oc warriors as field rations. Domestication is difficult and rare, only Ash-mari or Kuglimz are known to manage this feat.
Image description: The Tirpan Horse, a common animal in the Mountains of Oro and the Tandalas. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
The Tirpanis a small sturdy, primitive horse. It
stands between 13 and 15 palmspans high at the shoulder, with a thick, muscular
build and large, heavy, head, with a long, thick face. Tirpans are quite broad
through the chest and have a very solid, squared-off, chunky look to them. They
have short backs and very thick necks, particularly the stallions. The Tirpan is
most commonly dark grey in colour, with a black stripe down the center of its
back, a coarse, bristly mane, and a heavy shaggy growth of hair around the
hooves, which are black. It has a lighter grey underbelly and white muzzle. The
tail is long, sometimes nearly reaching the fetlocks, and very thick and full.
Tirpans also have a heavy growth of hair beginning at the throat and extending along to the animal’s lower jaw, which has led to the nickname ‘bearded horse’. Since they are a Northern animal. they tend to have very dense, warm pelts which have a water resistant quality. The ears are short and tufted with black fur at the tips. The eyes are large, fringed with long, thick, black lashes and dark brown in colour. Like most horses, the Tirpan has large, yellowish teeth, but they differ from others in that they have sharper biting and grinding edges on them. Occasional variations of black, dull brown or, very rarely, white coats, do occur, but these unusual animals are not generally accepted by the herd and tend to be outcasts, unlikely to mate and perpetuate their characteristics.
The Tirpan is a wild horse, but when domesticated it
proves to be an extremely strong, hardy beast, able to survive under conditions
in which most other horses could not. They are
well-suited to the harsh winter conditions of the mountains, have a very good
sense of smell and are able to locate water
anywhere within about three leagues of them. They are not particularly fast,
being too heavily built, but they tend to be smooth-gaited.
Territory. The Tirpan is mostly found in the northern Tandala Highlands and the Mountains of Oro, in small herds of 15 or less. The herd stallion will temporarily ‘claim’ a certain area of land, usually between 8-12 perries in size, which he will then defend ferociously against other males. The herd will stay for a moon or two, depending on food and water availability, then move on.
Habitat/Behaviour. These horses are generally un-aggressive animals (except during breeding seasons, see Mating). They are patient and normally placid tempered. Their highly insular social structure is similar to that of the herd structure, with a dominant stallion and lead mare in charge. Colts over the age of two are chased away, and they tend to form loose groups of young stallions until one or more decide to challenge an established stallion for his mares. These fights are so ferocious that both stallions may die from blood loss. If this occurs, the lead mare takes charge of the herd until an acceptable stallion is found. The lead mare will decide whether or not a stallion is acceptable to sire the herd’s foals. (If a stallion comes along who is too young, too old, not strong or smart enough, or a colour outcast, the mares will chase him away.) The lead mare is the main disciplinarian for the herd. If two mares or young colts are fighting, for instance, she will intervene, biting, kicking and squealing, to drive them apart.
Tirpan herds are generally more active in the winter months, as they often need to keep moving in search of food. In bad storms, Tirpans huddle tightly together, with the foals in the center of the group. Tirpans are very sensitive to territorial boundaries and usually herds do not co-exist next to each other. If one herd encounters another, the herd that has laid territorial claim will chase the other away.
Diet. Tirpan Horses can eat nearly anything, but favour small shrubs and bushes such as the mutliweed, doch nut and redberry bushes. If nothing else is available, they can and will eat lythien and sou’cald moss. During the winter months, the stallions will sometimes move their herds down into the Celeste Lowlands and lay claim to a new territory for the coldest season.
Mating. During the breeding season, the Tirpan’s behaviour changes drastically. The mares go into heat (unless pregnant) four times a year. Both males and females become very aggressive and fierce. It is this characteristic which makes them generally unsuited to domestication, since they become completely uncontrolable. Either gender may initiate mating behavior, usually by making what resembles an attack on the other, squealing, lunging up against each other, snapping at the neck and withers, retreating and repeating the cycle one or two times until the other responds. Tirpan stallions have been known to steal kev’lor mares upon occasion, and mate with them. Once the heat is over, the mares usually chase the newcomer away. It is largely due to this infusion of Tirpan blood that the kev’lor horse has shrunk slightly over the years (for more details see at the kev’lor horse entry).
The gestation period of a Tirpan mare is approximately 10 months. Tirpan foals are born black and their colour lightens and begins to show the distinctive markings as they grow older. Foals are cared for communally, and any nursing mare may nurse any foal, though most foals generally prefer their own mother. Colts and fillies are treated the same until about age two, when the colts are chased away. Tirpans reach full adult status by about age three, when the fillies start going into heat and the colts start attempting to take over other herds.
Usages. Tirpans are hunted by the Losh-Oc Orcs and their smoked meat, called ‘Fyrflejs’ (“FEAR-Flice”) is eaten by the Losh-Oc warriors as field rations. It is called “F'ron'rrun Hrok” in Kh'om'chr'om. The Losh-Oc believe that eating Fyrflejs will impart to them the animal’s amazing endurance and strength. However, the few humans who have tried it claim that one must already possess great endurance and strength just to gnaw through a piece of it. Tirpan mares do produce rich, creamy, sweet milk that is almost worth putting up with them during the breeding season for. But domestication is generally limited to the occasional attempt by an Ash-mari or Kuglimz individual.
Myth/Lore. Losh-Oc mothers tell their children stories about the Tirpan, stories which praise its strength and endurance. There is a little song they like to sing about it. In Kh’om’chr’om it sounds like someone repeatedly and noisily clearing his throat, but a loose translation by the Kuglimz Bard Heir’gor, goes as follows:
Origins. Tirpans are the oldest known horse breed in Sarvonia. Other breeds are thought to have originally descended from Tirpan stock, and, bred for selected qualities, they have evolved into the different breeds known in Sarvonia today.
Information provided by Alysse the Likely