The life of the Yakuts is inconceivable without a horse, this unique, extremely unpretentious and hardy animal. A horse is an indispensable companion for them and a faithful friend that gives people everything they need for life.
The Yakut horse is shaggy, squat, with a large head and strong legs. Even in the most severe frosts it is left to its own and finds food raking snow with hooves. In spite of frost, snow and meager food a horse walks over 400 kg of live weight. Its meat and fat make up more than 80%.
Compared to horses of other breeds, the Yakut horse has exceptionally high adaptive qualities: thick skin, thick and long hair. It is perfectly adapted to the harsh climatic and meager feed conditions of Yakutia. It is saved from severe cold by its ability to quickly build up and deposit a significant amount of fat in her subcutaneous tissue.
According to the ideas of the Sakha people, a horse is a sacred animal of heavenly origin. Yakuts call a horse "Dzhesegey ogoto" or "child of Dzhesegey”. It has long been worshiped, revered, the annual Ysyakh folk festival was mainly dedicated to Jessegey and was accompanied by the traditional praise of the horse and treating everyone with koumiss.
The main animal
The Yakut horse, with its small stature, is very broad-bodied and massive in physique, with a well-developed chest and short, bony legs. Its hair is very thick. Winter hair reaches 7-8 cm. The suits of the Yakut horse are predominantly light: gray, bulan, savras, roan, and bushy. They are very hardy to cold.
Here is what the famous Yakut researcher Vatslav Seroshevsky wrote: “The Yakuts passionately love their horses which is noticeable in the songs and traditions of distant northerners.
“Horses are smart as people. They never walk breaking stacks of hay. A horse is an animal with gentle thoughts and it can distinguish good and evil!”, the Bayagantai Yakut explained to me the behavior of herds carefully walking around the ready-made shocks in the meadows.
Population remembers for a long time names and origin of horses famous for something. These days people of Namsky Yakuts tell legends about the pacer Kyokya which belonged to the ancestor of Chorbokh, a contemporary of the Russian coming and about the runner Cyriagus and the reason for the bloody feud between the two Namsk clans; about Kusagannel Kutungai Borong, which no one could sit on as it "threw people off with the wind." Vilyui Yakuts tell about the famous horse of Malyar.
Yakut horses are widely used in winter in carts for the delivery of various cargoes to gold mines and other mining sites. With small growth, they carry a pack weighing 80-100 kg and travel up to 100 km per day. In winter they transport 300-350 kg of cargo in a sleigh making up to 50 kilometers per day.
Yakuts ride horses on a hunt. To do this a horse is taken from a herd and "stand" for one or two days (it practically starve) shortly tied to a special post so that the horse cannot bend. This is because the horse in a herd is very fat and weaned from hard work. If you immediately start to rush it in the forest, then it can become sick and even die. And if it goes hungry for two or three days then it will endure a long leap. This method of "standing" has been used by Yakuts for many centuries.
The Siberia development
The merit of the Yakut horse in the development of the north of Siberia is also considerable. Cossacks overcame the impregnable peaks of numerous ridges, with their help they made their way through impenetrable swamps.
The roads of Yakutia were not easy, and in the year of the horse all the participants of the great northern expeditions would speak well of the Yakut horse.
Currently there are three types of Yakut horses formed in the Republic: the northern original type (Srednekolymskaya, Verkhoyansk horses), the southern smaller type and the southern large type. In 2011, the presentation of a new breed of Yakut horses, the Megezheks breed, was officially announced.
The size of the middle Kolyma stallions (cm): height at the withers 139, oblique body length 148, chest circumference 173, metacarpal circumference 19.7, in mares - 137-145-171 - 18.1. As you move from east to west over the territory of the forest zone, some consolidation of horses is observed, as well as a greater severity of their harness and properties. The Yakut horse is the smallest among forest species. Depending on the habitat, its measurements are somewhat different. So, in the northern regions with slightly better feed conditions, the horses are higher, larger, more bony than in the southern. So, the height at the withers of horses in the northern regions is 134 cm, the oblique length of the body is 145, the circumference of the chest is 166 and the circumference of the metacarpus is 18.2 cm, and for the horses of the southern regions 130, 141, 158 and 17.6 cm, respectively.
Use of horses
Traditionally, there are 2 directions for the use of 'Yakut horses':
Horseback. Despite the short stature and stockiness of the Yakut horses, they are often used as riding horses. Not a single Ysyakh holiday is complete without equestrian competitions, while riding horses are never used for other purposes.
Meat and milk direction. This one is the most massive. Mare’s milk is used to make the traditional national drink koumiss and the meat of Yakut horses is a national dish and is considered a delicacy. A distinctive feature of the meat of the Yakut horse is the so-called marbling of meat.
The meat of the Yakut horse is very fat and high-calorie and its production is now put on stream. In general, this is not surprising, since in northern conditions it is one of the few species of pets adapted for breeding.
The bulk of the Yakut horses is concentrated in the valleys of the middle reaches of the Lena River, as well as to the north, in the basins of the Yana, Kolyma and Indigirka.
Yakut horses are hardy and quick-witted, well oriented on running over rough terrain.
The temperament of Yakut is lively and energetic, which will certainly appeal to enthusiastic horse breeders.