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17 August 2017   
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Russian Breeds of Horse

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Bashkir




This breed originates from Bashkiria, a south western province of Russia in the foothills of the Ural Mountains. The Ufimsk stud - No. 119 near Ufa, Bashkiria's main city, is the largest purebred Bashkir stud in the province. The horses are kept in large breeding herds where they forage for their food, even in Russia's bitterly cold winter. It is capable of living in the open, withstanding ferocious blizzards and temperatures down to -40° F. digging deep into the snow, sometimes a metre thick, to find food. Their long winter coats are not only dense, but the hair layers are fatty, preventing water from penetrating through to the skin and insulating them from the cold. It is probably due to this fatty coat that horse allergy sufferers seem to be unaffected by this breed, as any skin particles remain bound to the coat, producing less air borne dust. The Bashkir horse is bred for meat and milk production, and as an all purpose pack and general workhorse and also as a source of leather. All the horses are branded with a number for identification including the herds of wild horses.

The mares are renowned for their milk production and during lactation a single mare will produce over 330 gallons of milk. Kumis is a fermented liquor made from the milk, drunk by the local herdsmen and bottled to be sold elsewhere. The Bashkir is one of the hardiest breeds in the world, having changed little over a thousand years, retaining much of the wild horse characteristics in conformation, as a good herder and as a forager. It works well in harness and under saddle, the feet being so hard it never needs to be shod.

The Bashkir is small and stocky, with a thick mane, tail and coat. It stands between 13.2 hh to 15.2 hh, The head is relatively large with a straight or convex profile, the eyes are slightly slanted; the neck is short and fleshy; the body is deep with a broad chest and straight back; the hinquarters are strong with a slightly sloping croup and low set tail; the limbs are comparatively short but strong with substantial bone; the feet are exceptionally hard. The colours are predominantly, dun, brown and bay though chestnut, palomino, black and grey are also quite common. Dun horses have a dorsal stripe along the back, dark ear tips, and tiger stripes around the legs. Markings known as "wild markings" may also occur on the shoulder. The breeds steady, calm temperament, make it a loyal worker though it has a mind of its own and may occasionally be stubborn. It is a comfortable and responsive riding horse, surefooted, and capable of negotiating all types of terraine. This was particularly evident during their participation in war, including the Napoleonic wars and World War I when the Bashkir Cavalry was always able to get through, no matter what the terrain. During the hardships of battle the endurance and hardiness of the Bashkir horse was also a huge bonus.

Today the Bashkir horse is relatively obscure outside Russia, but there are elsewhere a few devoted followers of the breed. In Scandinavia they are growing in popularity as a riding horse and apart from Russia, Sweden has one of the largest population of them, at approximately 300 horses. In Norway there are less than 10. In 2004 Mette Berg of Gausdal, Norway imported, three Bashkir mares and a stallion. Importing these horses from Russia is expensive and difficult and at present there are no further plans to import anymore. In 1998 The Swedish registry for Bashkir horses was established and in 2002 it offered its first Breeding Trophy for mares. There is no relation between the Bashkir Horse of Russia and the American Bashkir Curly. They are completely different breeds and with the exception of their unique coats, bear little resemblance to each other.



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