Cold Weather Horses
 By Saferaphus   •   2nd Mar 2017   •   621 views   •   0 comments
If you live in a place where winters are cold and snowy, you probably worry about your horse coping with the frigid temperatures. But, while many of us have hot house flowers that beg to be in their stalls when a cool breeze kicks up, there are horses who don’t bat a (frozen) eyelash at the cold. Here is a look at breeds that can withstand the most inhospitable winter weather without the benefit of stable or snug blanket.

Icelandic Horse
One of the best-known breeds developed in northerly climes is the Icelandic Horse. Although they have the stature of a pony, these hardy horses carry full-grown riders with ease. The terrain of Iceland is very rugged, with a rocky and often volcanic landscape. The climate can be frigid, and the winters long. Despite this, the hardy Icelandic horses thrive. They provide a sure-footed smooth ride over the rough ground. Along with their good sense, and sturdy conformation, many are five gaited. Ridden at a tölt, or pace, Icelandics are a safe and comfortable ride and surprisingly swift.

Yakut Horse
I’m used to long, cold winters, but -40 below, whether you measure in Celsius or Fahrenheit is too cold for any outdoor activity. While the less hardy of us hide indoors, the Yakutian horse or Yakut horse thinks nothing of digging under the drifts to find tasty bits of grass. Over the hundreds of years of this horse’s development, they have adapted to their incredibly harsh environment. Their compact bodies, three-inch long winter fur, and copious manes and tails help them stay warm in the most extreme conditions. The Yakut has contributed to the tribes that developed them as a draft animal, riding horse, and as a meat and milk producing animal.

Bashkir Horse
Bashkir horses, unlike the Icelandic and Yakut, are the size of a small horse - about 14.1 hh. These horses were developed in the harsh environment of the steppes south of Russia’s Ural Mountains. Here, the temperatures and weather can be extreme. During the long winter, snow and Arctic-like temperatures are common. The short summers can be intensely hot. There are two types of Bashkir horses - a smaller mountain bred horse and a slightly larger type bred on the steppes. Like many horse breed developed in extremely cold areas, their bodies are thick and compact, their legs are short and strong and their coat is thick. Their coats can also be curled and manes and tails wavy, leading some to think they may be the ancestors of other curly coated breeds.

Bashkir Horses, like the Yakut, are not just used as riding and draft animals, but they are also milked. Shortly after the foals are born, they are kept separated from their mothers. Kumis, made from mare’s milk is a very popular drink. And, like other breeds who grow long hair for the winter months, their shed hair is used in spinning and weaving.

Finn Horse
The Finn horse is Finland’s only native breed. While not yet classified as endangered, the breeding pool is narrowing, leading to some concern about the breed’s survival. The Finn horse is a very solid, even-tempered horse used for both riding and driving. They are also raced as trotters. There are four types, the more draft like and the lighter horses used for racing. And there are pony sized Finn horses and those bred solely as light riding horses. Because there is no one type, there is no hard and fast breed standard. All could be described as solid and hardy and well suited to the rugged and often wintery landscape they were developed in.

Kabarda Horses
This breed of horse, also known as the Kabardin has been around since the 1500s. The nomadic people responsible for its development lived in the western regions of Russia and lived in a harsh mountainous climate. These horses, therefore, were bred to endure the rugged countryside and frigid temperatures of their extreme environment. These horses are a little larger and more refined than many of the other nordic type breeds.

They are said to be very even tempered, hardy, and able to navigate rocky and hilly terrain with good sense. They weren’t bred for speed, but for their surefootedness and reliability. They are adept at traveling through deep snow and withstand the chilling temperatures of the region without extra care.

Some of the features that have evolved aren't what you’d normally look for in a riding horse but, these ‘flaws’ make them suited to negotiating mountainous terrain. They tend to be straight shouldered, have high action in the front, and are often sickle hocked. They tend to be long backed and can be concave over the loins. It’s said their hooves are so hard, that shoeing is difficult but largely unnecessary.
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