This horse takes its name from the place where it originated in the
Yili-Kazakh Autonomous District, Xinjiang Uygur region of China. Considered
a new breed in China it is classified as a "developed breed" and is the
result of crossing imported Russian horses with the native breeds of the
Over the past fifty years Russian immigrants to Kazakh have tried to improve
the local horses with Russian stallions. From 1936 the local government
began to import Don, Orlov Trotter and Anglo-Don horses to cross with the
local breeds and upgrade them. Unfortunately these crosses were unsuccessful
and the second-generation horses were of poor quality and conformation.
Eventually in 1963 a draft-riding type was determined as the goal for the
new breed. By selective breeding of the best progeny the desired type has
become established and the numbers have increased.
The Yili stands at about 14 h.h. and has great powers of endurance enabling
it to travel long distances at a good rate of speed.
The head is refined with a straight profile; the neck tends to be short; the
shoulders are good and sloping; the withers are pronounced; the back is
strong with fairly long loins; it has a deep chest and well sprung ribs; the
hindquarters are underdeveloped; the limbs are clean with well-defined
tendons; the front legs are correctly set and well muscled while the hind
legs are weak and tend to be sickled with some toe out. The coat is light
and fine, often with a metallic sheen. The most predominant colours are bay
and chestnut, though black and grey do occur.