Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Yakut   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Yakut (or 'Yakutian') is a small horse breed that originated in Yakutia. It is known for its ability to survive very low temperatures.

The ancestors of the Yakut breed were brought to Yakutia between the 13th and 15th centuries, and were probably of Mongolian origin. Living outdoors all year round, these horses quickly adapted to their new environment. While other breeds would perish in the Yakutian winter, Yakut horses developed a couple of ways to cope with the extreme temperatures, which can be as low as -70C.

During the short summer, Yakut horses eat as much food as they can find, and store an impressive amount of fat in a short time. This is essential for their survival during the winter, when food is scarce, because the stored fat is used to generate both the energy and the heat that they need to survive. However, there is one problem: if Yakut horses burn too much fat, their stores won't last through the entire winter. To solve this problem, the Yakut horses use a number of additional adaptations.

First, Yakuts grow an extremely thick winter coat, which is usually 8-10cm long, and which is composed of two layers. The first layer is a thick undercoat, which insulates the body of the Yakut, while the second layer shields the undercoat from the snow, and keeps it dry. Furthermore, the mane and tail of Yakut horses grow extremely long and thick, and their mane often covers their neck, while their forelock covers most of their face.

In addition to a thick winter coat, Yakut horses also have small ears and nostrils, as well as an extremely compact conformation. All of these minimize the surface of their body that is exposed to the outer environment, and thus reduce heat loss, as does their thick coat.

The ability to retain heat means that Yakut horses don't need to burn a lot of fat in order to keep their body's temperature stable. Therefore, Yakut horses reduce their metabolic rate by nearly half, to prevent their bodies from burning fat unnecessarily. One way to tell that their metabolism rate is low is to count the number of breaths they take per minute; during summer, when their metabolic rate is normal, Yakuts breathe around 20 times per minute, while in the winter they breathe only around 10 times per minute.

Even though their metabolic rate is lower during winter, and even though Yakut people do provide their horses with some food at this time, Yakut horses still need to forage by themselves. This is where two other adaptations of the Yakut horses come into play. First, they have an outstanding sense of smell, which allows them to smell and locate grass that is buried beneath snow. Second, their solid hooves are tough enough to allow them to dig in the snow and the frozen soil, and to uncover as much grass as possible.

Smelling and digging in the snow means that the muzzle and legs of Yakut horses are often in close contact with the cold, which puts them at risk of freezing. The reason why this doesn't happen is that, during the winter, the body of Yakut horses generates antifreeze compounds that protect them from freezing.

Thanks to all of these adaptations, Yakut horses are capable of surviving in the Yakutian outdoors all year long. This is why they are favored by the Yakut people, for everything from milk production to riding. In addition, some Yakut horses naturally perform the running-walk ambling gait, and are therefore comfortable to ride.

There are three subtypes of Yakut horses, each has its own lineage and height range. The first is the Middle Kolyma Yakut, which is considered to be the original form of the Yakut horse, and stands between 13.2hh and 13.3hh. The second is the Smaller Southern Yakut, which stands between 13hh and 13.1hh. The third is the Larger Southern Yakut, which is the only non-pure form of the Yakut pony, because it underwent a bit of crossbreeding in the past with draft breeds. This is the tallest subtype of the Yakut horse, and stands between 13.2hh and 14hh. All of these three subtypes are found in Horse Isle.

As mentioned above, one of the adaptations of Yakutian horses to the cold their compact conformation, and as such it is demonstrated by all of the three subtypes. This conformation is characterized by a short head with a small muzzle and small nostrils, small ears, a straight profile, a short neck, unobtrusive withers, a short back, a sloping croup, and very short legs that are covered with some feathering.

Yakut horses are usually dun or grey in color, but the colors of bay, brown, black, and, more rarely, chestnut, and roan exist as well. The coat is either solid or tobiano, and can be mealy. Yakut horses stand between 13hh and 14hh, with each subtype having its own height range.

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