The Mongolian Horse belongs to the breed of horses that are native to Mongolia. This breed has existed from the time of Genghis Khan and has remained unchanged. Since then to this time the Mongolian Horse has been a very important part of Mongol culture.
Traditional Mongols living a nomadic life still own about 3 million animals that could be more than the human population of the country. Though they belong to the category of horses they look more like ponies because of their size.
These horses can survive outdoors in extreme weather conditions as they are considered to be strong. The Mongolian Horse normally looks for their own food to graze on. A beverage airag is made from the mare’s milk after it is processed. Natives sometimes slaughter these horses for meat.
The Mongolian Horse serves the natives as a transport animal and for horse racing recreation activities. Due to their diverse talents, Mongolian horses are quite popular with horse lovers even today.
Operating as Genghis Khan’s war mounts, Mongol horses have played a vital role in the history of 13th century. They proved to be magnificent war steeds because of their independent nature in finding food and being able to withstand tough weather conditions.
Though being strong horses, they were slow as compared to other breeds which proved to be a disadvantage on the battleground. The soldiers were extremely dependent on these horses for milk and food. Sometimes during extreme stress, they would go to the point of drinking the horse’s blood. The horses proved to be very loyal to their masters and would respond obediently to their whistle just like dogs. Highest genetic variation has been discovered in the Mongolian horses and after that comes the Tuwinian horses.
The effort to produce faster horses by breeding between foreign races like Arabian horses and Mongolian horses have not been very successful. This is because these breeds could not cope with rough weather conditions which the native Mongolian horses were used to. The other problem of mating Mongolian mares with foreign horses was that the small Mongolian mares could not deliver large foals. The other difficulty faced in such mating was that the foreign pony that was mated with a Mongolian male produced fewer foals.
Japanese breeds like Noma, Taishu, Kiso, Tokara and Misaki have their ancestry in Mongolian Horses. These horses can be linked to breeds of horses in Central Europe and Scandinavia. And, the British Isles Icelandic horse has a remarkable resemblance to this horse in terms of living and finding its own food.
Mongol horses have a very long tail and mane and a sturdy build. Though they have comparatively short legs their legs are strong. Their head is large. Their weight is somewhere between 500 to 600 lbs and is somewhere between 48 to 56 inches high.
Different characteristics are observed among horses from different regions of Mongolia. Horses from deserts have larger feet that are above average. Horses from mountainous regions are strong and short. The fastest and tallest are the horses from the Steppe region.
The Mongolian horse trots mostly when moving, sometimes it seems to be sauntering as if gliding on a smooth surface.
Though these horses have small bodies, they have great stamina, allowing them to sprint 10 km in one go.
Due to their resemblance to Przewalski’s horse, it was thought that they too belonged to the latter subspecies but in 2011 it was proved that the above theory was incorrect.
The Mongolian horse is extensively used in 15km to 30km races during the traditional festival of Nadam. In fact they are one of the leading attractions at this festival.
Mongol horses hair is used by people to make bows for violins, ornaments and ropes. Their meat is valued for its taste and health benefits. These horses can survive in temperatures of 30 degrees centigrade.
The horses habitually eat grasses, foliage, plants, fruit and bark that are rough in texture. They drink a very little amount of water. This characteristic is helpful for existence in the surroundings of the Gobi desert. They are likely to drink once a day. During winter months, Mongol horses dig up the ground to find the grass underneath the snow. They eat snow to quench their thirst.
Breeding And Uses
The horses meant for foreign markets are bred according to their preferences. Chinese prefer grey and white ponies and so they are bred accordingly in southern Mongolia. You will find black or chestnut-coloured horses in north Mongolia.
Horses are bred mainly for their speed and color. Herdsmen also breed horses for temperament, ancestry and conformation Western culture stresses more on conformation as compared to Mongolia.
In Mongolia, some traits are given importance. For example, preference is given to the walk of a horse whose rear footprints fall outside the front footprints or upon it. A good animal is the one with a large head and barrel. A desirable horse should have thick bones and legs. In order to survive the winter, the animal should have a thick coat. Horses with a Roman nose, thick tail and mane are preferred. Horses that have dish faces find it difficult to graze and so are not so desirable.
The Mongolian horse weighs about 600 pounds (272 kg). The horse height varies from 12 to 14 hands(48-56 inches- 122cm to 142cm).
What Breeds Make Up For The Mongolian Horse?
The Mongolian Horse may have been tamed in the grasslands of Eurasia first. Not that all Mongolian horses were domesticated together. In fact, tamed and wild horses must have existed together and bred. Thus pure wild blood Mongolian horses may not even exist today.
Some wild Mongolian horses roam the grasslands alongside semi-wild tamed horses even though they are not considered truly wild like the Przewalski horse.
It is difficult to trace the origin of the Mongolian breed. But horses have been used for riding in central Asian steppes since 2000BC. The Mongolian breed is ancient with minimum human interference inbreeding. Many other breeds of horses are in fact descendants of Mongol breed.
The Mongolian horses have coats that are black, brown, white, dun, roan, shun and palomino in color.
What Do They Look Like?
Mongol horses have a sturdy build. As compared to other breeds they have short legs but their legs are strong. They have large heads and are with relatively short but strong legs and a large head 48 to 56 inches high. Mongol horses have long tails and mane. Their hooves are hard and strong and they rarely suffer from foot problems. They are found in many colors.
What Is A Mongolian Horse Used For?
Mongolian horses are generally used for riding, sports like polo, hunting, racing, endurance riding and for work. They make for excellent warhorses due to energy and ability to survive in tough conditions. They can also fetch food for themselves. They provide soldiers with food and milk.
These horses are considered valuable for their hair that is used in making ornaments, ropes, fiddle strings and violin bows.
Where Do They Live?
The three million Mongolian horses live in the grasslands of Mongolian Steppes. They live and move in herds. They need to survive the extreme temperatures ranging from 30 degree Celsius to minus 40 in winters.
How Long Do They Live?
Mongolian horses have a life span of 20 to 40 years and work till they are 18 years old.
How Fast Are They?
Mongolian horses can endure long races up to 30 km. Foreign breeds can run faster than Mongolian horses but they get exhausted faster than Mongolian horses. Racing is a popular sport in Mongolia. Thus the rich buy crossbreeds that can gallop full speed 35km at one go.
How Much Do They Cost?
A good Mongolian horse can be bought for anywhere between $300 to $500.
Are Mongolian Horses Good For Beginners?
Mongolian horses are good for beginners because they are small like ponies and easy to manage. Also, they have good endurance.
Mongol horses being thrifty, resilient, somewhat crafty stride safely in difficult landscapes. Most horses in Mongolia are allowed to roam freely. Only horses that are meant for riding are kept tied. Horses belonging to Mongolian nomads move around freely around the family home. They may also go out to graze some miles away from home. These horses are permitted to select the grounds they want to graze in without direction from the master. Sometimes horses may not be seen for days at a stretch and then the master will go looking for them.
These horses are very friendly dependable and calm once they are familiar with the rider. Mongolian horses are inexpensive to raise as nature provides so well for them. A major portion of the Mongolian population live a nomadic life and these horses have become a necessity in their daily life.