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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Mongolian   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Mongolian is one of the oldest horse breeds still in existence. This ancient breed, which have roamed Asia for thousands of years, is most famous for serving as the legendary mount of the Mongolian army during the reign of the Khans. The Mongolian breed should not be confused with the "Mongolian Wild Horse", also known as "Przewalski's Horse", which is a different breed (see the 'Przewalski's Horse' for more info).

Mongolian horses have incredible endurance, and this trait gained them fame around the world. These horses, who were able to cross over 100 kilometers per day, allowed Genghis Khan to quickly invade nearby countries, and to expand the Mongolian territory. The army of the Golden Horde, which was founded by Genghis Khan's grandson Batu Khan, also rode Mongolian horses when it conquered more territories in Northern Asia and Eastern Europe. It is very likely that Mongolian horses were crossed with native horses in the Asian and European countries that were conquered by the Khans, meaning that the Mongolian horse influenced a variety of Asian and European breeds.

During the reign of Genghis Khan, the Mongols faced another challenge: the constant growth of their empire created an urgent need better mail services. Therefore, in 1224 a new system was developed, where each courier carried the mail over the back of a Mongolian horse in canter or gallop for more than 160 kilometers (99.4 miles), before reaching a resting post where the mail would be handed to the next courier. Using this system, mail could be delivered at a rate of around 300km (186.4 miles) per day. This was so efficient that the system was maintained until 1949, when the Soviet Union, which governed Mongolia at the time, shut it down.

The shutting down of the mail system did not affect the popularity of Mongolian horses in Mongolia, because they always served for other purposes as well, many of which they still fulfil today. One example is the production of horse milk, which is a main part of the Mongolian diet. Another example is endurance riding, which is a primary equestrian sport in Mongolia. In addition, Mongolian horses also serve for general riding, and for working livestock. Furthermore, today, Mongolian horses serve as mounts for tourists.

While the Mongolian is regarded as a single breed, there are four subtypes of Mongolian horses: the Forest Mongolian ('Jargalant'), which is the largest of the four subtypes; the Mountain Mongolian ('Darkhad'), which is smaller and well-suited for living in cold mountainous regions; the Desert Mongolian ('Tes'), which is adapted for life in the Gobi Desert; and the Steppe Mongolian ('Galshar'), which has a distinct conformation and is bred for endurance racing. All of these four subtypes can be found in Horse Isle.

In terms of conformation, Mongolian horses have large heads, short and thick necks, short legs which are often lightly feathered, and wide bodies. In addition, their manes, when cut short, are often erect. Last, despite being shorter than 14.2hh, Mongolians are considered to be horses rather than ponies.

Mongolian horses come in all colors and patterns except for frame-overo, mushroom, dominant black, sabino, and manchado. They stand between 12hh and 14hh.


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