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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Hokkaido Pony (Hokkaido)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Hokkaido Pony (also known as 'Dosanko' and 'Hokkaido Washu') is a rare Japanese breed, which is named after Hokkaido Island where it originated. They are famous for being the largest native Japanese breed on average, as well as the most common one.

The creation of the Hokkaido Pony probably began in the 15th or 16th century, and lasted until the 19th century. Its ancestors were probably Mongolian horses, in addition to horses of Korean and Chinese breeds, and to now-extinct Japanese breeds such as the Nanbu. That said, it is unclear if or when each of these breeds was added to the mix. What we do know is that the main player in the development of the Hokkaido Pony was its homeplace: Hokkaido Island.

Ponies were brought to Hokkaido Island by Japanese fishermen, who needed strong pack ponies to carry fish and equipment. Hokkaido Island is the northernmost of the main islands of Japan, and the winters there are harsh. Therefore, the fishermen left the island every autumn, and returned only in the spring. They left their ponies behind, to fend for themselves, on the rugged and snowy island, where food is scarce and consists mainly of bamboo. Eventually, over the course of centuries, this practice shaped those ponies into the tough Hokkaido breed. Today, many farms still allow their ponies to roam freely on the island, including during the winter.

Hokkaido Ponies have excellent endurance and impressive strength for their size. In addition, they are calm and friendly in nature, and are therefore suitable mounts for inexperienced riders. As such, Hokkaido ponies are mainly used in the field of tourism, and serve as pack ponies, trekking ponies, and carriage ponies. In addition, they are also popular mounts for 'Yabusame', which is archery from horseback.

Hokkaido Ponies come in all colors except for champagne, pearl, mushroom, and dominant white. In addition, they come only in solid colors, which means that leopard and pinto patterns are absent from this breed. Furthermore, white markings are discouraged and are kept to a minimum. Hokkaido ponies stand between 12.1hh and 13.3hh, making them the largest native Japanese breed on average.

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