The horse that can endure Siberian winters

The horse that can endure Siberian winters
The Yakutian horse adapts to the extreme Siberian climates with astonishing speed.
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

Local legend has it that when the god of creation flew around the world to distribute riches, he dropped all of his treasures when he arrived in the Yakutian region of Siberia. His hands were simply numb with cold.

The myth is an attempt to explain why Yakutia has such an abundance of precious diamonds, but it is easy to see why the story developed. This republic of Russia gets very cold indeed. Temperatures can dip to -70 °C (-94 °F) and its capitol, Yakutsk, is the coldest city in the northern hemisphere.

There is life in the freezer though, including a population of stocky, shaggy steeds known as Yakutian horses. The Yakuts would undoubtedly have perished if not for these beasts. Locals relied on the horses for transportation, food in the form of horsemeat, and clothing made from horse hides. Horses have played a central role in the region's economy for hundreds of years.

It turns out that these horses adapted to the extreme Siberian climates with astonishing speed.

Averaging about 150cm, the Yakutian stands a little smaller than most horses. Its winter hair can reach about 10cm in length and it has a thick bushy tail and long mane that, like a shawl, covers both its neck and shoulders.

In short, its appearance is a little like the woolly mammoth version of a horse. It is clearly well suited to the brutal and enduring Siberian winters.

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