What is the Yakut horse? Is it a pony?

January 6, 2010

A month ago the message arrived from Sweden. A horses breeding enthusiast Karl wrote:

First of all, I want to tell you how fantastic it is of you to put up this opportunities to ask questions about Yakutia.

Thanks for your positive feedback :)

a Yakut horse

Well, I´m very interested in the Yakut ponies. There is actually not so much about them on the Internet. From pictures I have seen they look a lot like Shetland ponies. Are there any of them in Europe? Or have they newer ever exported or sold any horse?

I live in Sweden and love horses. I want to know everything possible about these wonderful horses.

My reply is the following.

1. Frankly saying, I don’t know anything about the Yakut ponies :) Maybe, Karl meant the Yakut horses. They really look like ponies. Relatively short, but strong. The Sakha people are proud of them. As far as you know, Yakuts’ major activity was horse breeding.

2. There isn’t any of them in Europe, unfortunately. I reforwarded this question to Valery Protopopov, pro-rector of the Yakut Agriculture Academy. He said there was no Yakut horses export experience ever recorded. So… be the first. Local breeding experts are very interested in it.

WHAT IS THE YAKUT HORSE?
Read the article that was published once in local newspapers many years ago. Thank God, I saved it and can share it now.

Written by N.D. Alexeev, N.P. Stepanov

Breeding of the Yakut species of horse, developed under severe conditions of the North by people’s selection, is a traditional occupation of the rural inhabitants in Yakutia. The horse- breeding, basing on year-round pasturing, has become one of the main and profitable branches of stock-breeding, the base of the life style and economy of rural inhabitants. In gross meat production, horsemeat occupies 22-25%, making up to 40 % at some farms.

Yakut horse is the most northern breed being developed all the year round in the open air under extreme northern conditions. Its spreading range on the territory of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) goes far beyond the Arctic circle to forest-tundra zone, where the fluctuation of the absolute annual temperatures reaches 108 С (from +38 to -70 С ), and winter pasturing period lasts for 8 months a year.

According to modern scientific data Yakut horse is one of the most ancient breeds in the world. Researchers assume that modern Yakut horse is a direct descendant of primitive and the most ancient domesticated horses that came to this severe region from the centre of domestication. Immune and genetic markers revealed high genetic similarity of Yakut horses with horses of Central-Asian origin (Akhal-Teke, Arabian, Kazakh , Kirghiz , blooded saddle-horse) and Polish aboriginal horse.

Yakut horse is bred by the pasturing method, based on year-round use of natural pastures. Yakut horses have a complex structure. Local types of Yakut horse were formed under influence of natural and climatic conditions of specific areas and as a result of different levels of mixture with other breeds.
Types within the breed

When differentiating types within the breed, the most important criterion was what the original material that connected all existing types was. It turned out to be thoroughbred Yakut horse bred in central and Vilyuisk regions. They became the main source for all other types of Yakut horse.

Original type horses are blooded Yakut horses. They descend from Lake Baikal horses that were brought by ancestors of the Yakut people and they are their direct descendants. Thoroughbred breeding and unchangeable herd pasturing during several centuries enabled keeping original Yakut horse features. They are more adapted to severe condition of keeping: winter frost, scanty and little nutritious feed. Their external construction and the type of build changing according to a season of the year characterize the final degree of morphological adaptation of the animal to influence of extreme environmental conditions.

In general, these horses are not big but have a harmonious built. In summer they do not differ much from cultivated types of southern origin in the way of build. In autumn, after accumulating fat, they differ in mass and stout construction. The head is of average size, with straight profile. The neck is short and broad; withers are low but wide enough. The back is of average length, the croup is wide. There occur horses with shortcut and loppy croup. The chest is deep and comparatively wide. Horses of this type have short and strong legs with firm hoofs without crackles. There occur closely set legs at the hock and some narrowness of the hock angle. The dominating colors of the original type horses: mousey of different shades, roan, various shades of grey, chestnut, red, skewbald and seldom mottled.

Yansky type horses are pure-blooded Yakut horses, whose ancestors came from the original type that bred on the Yana and Indigirka rivers valleys. In their exterior they are similar to their primary type – horses of the original type, but they are more massive and larger. Yansky type horses differ in stout constitution, high adaptability to winter frost with poor pasture feed. All this is possible due to great fattening ability of this type horses during short summer and autumn period. The head is of average size with straight and concave profile, forehead is wide. The neck is short and fat, withers are wide and low, the back is of average length, and croup is comparatively long and wide. The chest is broad and deep. The legs are strong and set regularly. There are dominating light colors like all the northern horses have: grey and mousey of various shades, roan and others.

Kolymsky type horses are also pure-blooded Yakut horses, bred on the rivers of Kolyma and Alazeya valleys. Forefathers of their ancestors also came from the original type. They are typically northern horses.

This type horses are characterized by strong constitution, good fattening ability. The head is massive, with straight profile, neck is of average length, well muscled, and withers are average and wide. The back is straight, of average length; the croup is high, mildly deflated and round. The chest is deep and broad; legs are strong, regularly set. The dominating color of the Kolymsky type horses is grey of various shades, down to white, which is sometimes mistakenly associated with the influence of extinct wild so-called “tundra horse”.

Enlarged type. This type horses are received as a result of blood-mixing of farm breeds (the Orlov trotter and Russian heavydraft horse) to the horses of central and western Yakutia farms, as well as the result of improved feeding and breeding. A typical feature of the enlarged type horses is its longer body and relatively high withers. The head is of average size, little hook-nosed. The neck is of average length, back is straight and wide, and croup is high and muscled. The legs are put regularly, hoofs are strong enough. The dominating colors of these horses are: mousey, chestnut, roan, red, skewbald, grey of various shades.

Megezheksky type . Yakut horses bred by mixing blood of Kuznetsky type horses. This type was finally formed in the 1990s and selected as an independent type. Mostyly, these horses are bred at Stepan Vasiliev stud farm in Nyurbinsky region. The name of the type comes from the place of its development at Megezheksky settlement. This type is also bred at some places of Nyurbinsky and Suntarsky regions. Some outstanding examples have the mass of 600 kg and more.

The head is relatively big and the forehead is wide, with broad jowls, and straight and a little bit hooked profile; the eyes are lively, ears are short; the neck is of average length, straight and massive. The withers are of average height, tall enough. The back of the Megezheksky type horse is wide, straight and long that provides well expressed meat forms. Little “softness” of the back occurs in old horses. The loin is wide and strong, well muscled. The croup is high and wide with well developed musculature, the chest is broad and deep, ribs are round.

Horses of the Megezheksky type are characterized by regularly limbs setting. Setting defects like (toes-out or toes-in) are extremely rare. The limbs are strong, with well expressed tendon.

The colors of horses of the Megezheksky type are varied and basically are broken down evenly: light brown with a black mane and tail (19.5%), roan (16.9%), chestnut (16.6%), grey (13.7%) and mousey (2.3%).
Productive qualities

Horses are bred for meat and milk production, as well as for work. Meat output and slaughter yield depend on the age and nutritional state of animals. Foals at age of 6 months give at the average 106 kg , at the age of 2.5 years – 165 kg , while adult horses give 228 kg , and their slaughter yield is respectively: 55,9; 49,1 and 54,5%. High velocity of foals’ growth before 6-month age is provided with comparatively high milk productivity of mares of the Yakut breed. The peak of mares yield is observed at the beginning of lactation, when it reaches 18- 20 liters . Different sorts of horses mares’ yield for 6 months to lactation varies from 1 500 to 2 400 liters .
Reproductive qualities

Yakut mares are capable to give full-fledged posterity till 18-20-year age under such severe living conditions. Work output of foals from every one hundred January mares reaches 60-65 % in average, at good years up to 80 % and more.

The main structural unit of a horse herd is a herd, headed by a stallion. The herd consists of 10-15 mares and the current-year yield. The size of the herd depends on the age and herding qualities of a stallion-producer. Young animals of the past years yield form separate herds according to sex and age.

Fillies reaching the age of three years are released into herds of reproducing composition. Newly formed herds are kept in corals for few days and only afterwards they are released.
Adapting qualities

Yakut horse is perfectly adapted to living conditions. It is also proved by seasonal periods of mass foaling that basically occurs at May and June. Foaling takes place at the most favorable time of the year, so that a yield would prepare well to meet severe winter conditions during summer-autumn time.

The type of built of Yakut horse changes twice a year: in winter it takes full-bodied appearance, in summer – shallow-bodied. So in winter the body area decreases, giving less heat, and in summer, on contrary, it increases, which results in greater heat loss. Decrease of a body area is also reached by shortening of emerging parts of body: ears, legs and neck.

Adaptation to winter frost is reached also by growing of thick and long hair. Young animals have longer and thicker hair than adult horses do. In adult horses, stallion-producers have thick hair. High heat insulating characteristics of Yakut horses winter fur increase due to thick core layer in all the categories of hair, which takes up to 81 % its thicknesses. It provides still air layer around the animal body. Sub dermal fat layer, accumulated in favorable, from feeding point of view, summer-autumn period reaches thickness of 2- 3 cm and serves as another heat insulator during frost.

Besides morphological adapting qualities Yakut horse also possesses unique physiologically biochemical mechanism of adaptation to frost. The breath frequency and respiratory volume considerably fall in winter, from 20 breathings per minute in summer to 10- 12 in winter and 19.8 liters per minute in summer to 12.6 l/min in winter respectively, while the blood circulation speeds up with circulating shelters volume increasing to 24 % and shelter volume per a minute – to 59%. In addition, heat production level falls from 8.65 kJ/kg/h in summer to 4.83 kJ/kg/h in winter.

During long cold winter the heat balance is ensured by economical consumption of fat reserve, which takes up to 20-22 % from flourish weight. The accumulated reserve of the internal fat of a well-fed adult-horse reaches 35 kg .

High adapting qualities of Yakut horses to extreme northern conditions contribute to relatively high reproductive qualities. The main limiting factors of breeding horses of this type are availability of pastures, their quality and accessibility, as well as duration of extreme environmental factors (low temperature, icing, sever winter winds).
Use in economy

Horse for the Yakut people, first of all, is a means of transportation and pulling force. Yakut horse is characterized by endurance and unpretentiousness to its feed. Until lately, horses made 60-70% of haymaking. Yakut horse as a beast of burden was used since ancient times. Kolymsk merchants would carry cargoes from Yakutsk to Srednekolymsk on the same horses, which is the 2450 kilometers distance. Herewith, more than 1.5 thousand kilometer they covered only on pasturages.

In the XXI century Yakut horse is used in farm works, haymaking, hunting and fishing in the countryside. Summer national holiday “Ysyakh” is usually accompanied with horse race. Horses are used in tourism, in walking children, etc.
Major scientific works on the branch development:

• The scientific expedition materials, submitted in 1987 to approbations of the Yakut breed.

• Plans of selective and tribal works in horse-breeding.

• Ways of increasing herd productivity and its rational use.

• Original recipes of mineral and vitamin additives for Yakut types of horses.

• Technologies of the horse-breeding production processing.

• Systems of horse-breeding under conditions of Yakutia.

• Technologies of the national milk products production.

• Vaccines against diarrhea and salmonellosis abortion in horses and methods of its usage.
“Sakhabactisubtil” preparation for treatment and prevention of disbacteriosis, increased horse immune reactivity.



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