Yakut Horse: Breed Types, Economical and Biological Features
Written by N.D. Alexeev, N.P. Stepanov
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 Ñ (from +38 to -70 Ñ ), 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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".
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
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.
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%).
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 .
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 .
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
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
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.