Video: Hokkaido Pony
The Hokkaido pony, or dosanko, or Hokkaido of the uma, is an aboriginal horse breed that originated in the 17th century. Hokkaido pony gets its name from the name of the island it lives on.
Hokkaido uma is believed to have evolved from the nanbu horses brought by fishermen to Hokkaido from Tohoku (Honshu region) during the Tokugawa Dynasty (1603-1868). The fishermen needed strong pack animals to carry the herring catch across the island's rugged terrain.
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In the fall, the fishermen returned home and left the horses on the island. Despite the fact that the animals had to independently search for food under the snow, withstand severe frosts, most of them survived. Returning to the island in the spring, the fishermen brought more horses with them and this went on for quite a long time. This is how the hokkaido pony appeared - hard-working, strong, hardy and resistant to harsh climatic conditions.
During the 19th century, Hokkaido uma were increasingly used in agriculture, and in the mountains as draft and pack animals. Even today, they carry goods on themselves in areas where transport cannot enter. Until recently, these ponies also worked in coal mines.
The pedigree book of the breed was founded in 1979, but the standard has not yet been approved.
Nowadays, most Hokkaido ponies live free on huge pastures in a semi-wild state all year round. Once a year, ponies are caught for veterinary examination and treatment. Another part of the herd lives on farms, where they are purposefully bred. Closer to winter, farmers release horses into the mountains, and in the spring they return to the ranch on their own, as at this time the bears wake up from hibernation and begin to hunt foals.
Hokkaido ponies are born pacers. They are known for their stamina and have a calm, friendly disposition. In addition to agricultural work, animals are used in equestrian tourism and light harness.
The height at the withers is from 130 to 135 cm. Any solid color, most often black. White markings are not allowed.
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The physique is rather primitive. Hokkaido ponies have a large head with a straight profile; short neck; well defined withers; deep and wide chest; short, strong and heavy body; high set tail; light, slender, but rather strong legs; small, rather strong, round hooves; bushy tail and mane.
Today there are about 2,928 Hokkaido horses. It is the only horse breed in Japan that is not endangered.