A breed of energetic horses, originally from Poland, the Sokolski Horse comes from the northeast of Poland. A nascent breed, the horse breed is versatile in its qualities. An adjusting horse, its adaptability is truly remarkable. It has low maintenance requirements and owners love it for its magical pony-type appearance.
A draft horse, named after the Sokolka county in Poland, the horse is strong and can withstand icy conditions. It was first bred during the 1920s, from the breeding of local Polish mares and Ardennais horses.
The breeding and development of draft horses has been something of a tradition in Eastern European countries like Poland. Since the start of the 20th century, horses that exhibit tall and heavy-set builds with refined musculature, have been in demand. Along with these traits, horses must be agile and light on their feet.
Initially needed to carry heavy loads and hauling bulky weight, this horse breed was used extensively in agricultural environments. With the ability of rapid transportation of goods, this breed, famous as a work horse, was used all over Poland.
During the 1900s, Polish people saw the beginning of a new breeding program in which Ardennes, Belgian Heavy Drafts, Norfolk Trotters and Anglo-Norman breeds were crossed with local breeds.
World War I was on the horizon and hundreds of these new horses perished on the battlefield. Unfortunately, as these horses could withstand tough and rugged environments, they participated in World War II as well. The same fate awaited them. They died, leaving a meager amount behind.
With a rise in mechanization all over Europe with factories using machinery on the increase, the Sokolski Horse was no longer needed to do tedious work. The areas of drafting and farming ceased using the breed altogether. Horses were sold for their meat. As a result, their population declined further.
Nonetheless, the horses managed to survive and a few work as draft horses today. Farmers all over the Polish countryside find these horses are great mechanisms for plowing and herding cattle.
Alert and clever, the Sokolski Horse breed is an animal that is docile and obedient. Energetic and diligent, horses work hard, almost in an effort to please their masters. With a minimally heavy head, the horse has gentle and expressive eyes that signify intelligence.
With hard hooves that are characteristic of rugged breeds, these horses can endure a hard day’s work. These are horses with an excellent forward movement, and their gait shows an acceleration fit for general riding.
Horses are big eaters and forage like pasture, hay and pellets make for a healthy diet. Some horses may be sluggish, and a diet of quality grass, hay and legumes make for good energy sources. Balancer pellets make essential vitamins, proteins and minerals available.
Breeding And Uses
The lineage of these horses varies and initially horses were bred from a blend of sturdy steeds. The ancestral lines of this breed trace back to Belgian Ardennes and Belgian Heavy Draft horses in particular. These breeds, crossbred with local horses underwent more breeding. Anglo-Normans, Norfolk Trotters and Dole Gudbrandsdal horses were also involved in the bloodlines of the Polish breed.
Slightly larger than average, these Polish animals are typically 15 – 16 hands. On average, horses weigh 1,200 pounds (0.54 ton), but some may be a bit heavier.
What Breeds Make Up The Sokolski Horse?
The strength and stamina possessed by these horses comes from their Belgian breed ancestry, namely Belgian Draft horses and Belgian Ardennais stock. These bred with local Polish breeds make the Sokolski of today.
Other strong horse blood added to the line to make it even more robust, and these horses were Norfolk Trotters and Anglo-Normans specifically.
In colors of mainly bay, brown and chestnut, these easygoing horses may show white leg markings and lighter brown manes and tails.
What Do They Look Like?
Deep-chested with pronounced withers, horses are docile, but can be friendly to humans. The profile is straight and the head is heavy. The neck is long and athletic, showing distinctive musculature and width. Sloping shoulders, well-formed, cause the horse’s appropriate gait. Short straight backs and slanting croup give this horse a good support system and a sense of balance. Legs are strong and formed adequately, with rounded hooves full of tufts of hair.
What Are They Used For?
These are mainly draft and work horses. As they live on farms in parts of Europe, they are suitable for easy riding and are responsive to human commands and actions.
Where Do They Live?
Living mostly in Poland, the Sokolski Horse lives in other parts of Europe as well.
How Long Do They Live?
The life expectancy of this cold-blooded breed is about 15 – 20 years, but some may survive longer. The horse has no known horse-related predispositions to illness.
How Fast Are They?
Hardy and up to the challenge of work, these horses aren’t rapid pacers, but can walk at a relatively fast-forward gait.
How Much Do They Cost?
These horses are largely restricted to the countryside and farms of Poland, and not many horses come up for sale. They are used locally and for regular family farm use.
Are They Good For Beginners?
Great for beginners, they are lean-legged and easy to ride, as they don’t go fast. They are easy to maintain as a first pet horse and get on well with humans. These are affectionate animals that love their owners. With an instinctual affinity to human contact, they make good horses for children to befriend.
Conclusion / Summary
You may discover the odd horse enthusiast in some parts of the world, other than its native Poland, owning Sokolski horses on farms or ranches. They are quite rare in the USA, and most are restricted in locale to Poland.
Some horses are used in traditional ceremonies in Poland. Unfortunately, no adequate breeding association or standards exist for this almost-forgotten horse breed. Even today, in many rural parts of Poland, horses are sold for their meat and this grossly undermines this sturdy and adorable horse’s purpose.