This horse in his remaining large numbers is the purest and most typical representative of the Mongolian group of horses. He is bred on the vast area from the Caspian Sea to the central Asia region, in the Kyrghystan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and China. This area is about 3 millions square kilometers large, which is almost a half of the formal Soviet Union.
This is a small horse, in the withers 130 to 135 cm (12’3 – 13’1 hands), with a straight head from the profile by the mares and by the stallions slightly “Roman nosed”, with wide “jaws”. These horses carry their heads low to the ground, because they have low set [short and backward (elk)] neck, which is explained by their constant search for food; the torso is fairly long, tight and often “sway” back very strongly tied in loins to the hindquarters, which is not usual in most breeds. The back alone is relatively short in these animals, however they have very long and wide hips. The width of the chest is not wide, legs are short with strong joints, strong tendons and small, tough hoofs. The hind stand is for most part “cow hock”. The spavin, the navicular and hoof diseases are very seldom present. The coat is in the summer short and tight and in the winter they grow light, curly and very thick and long hair. In color the Kirgiz horses are mostly palominos, yellow to gray shades, chestnuts, bays, but sometimes even paints or “tigers”.
Kirgiz horse is late maturing, because he needs five years for his full development. He is very undemanding, satisfied with very little food even of poor quality. He still remains very healthy and with medium care/food has long life. They are known however, for their speed and endurance and without any extra effort can gallop 4 to 4 and half hours. These physiological characteristics of Kirgiz horses are the result of their adaptation to the nomadic life of the Kirgiz people that are for most part settled in this age, but there still remain numbers of nomads today.
The most valued characteristic of the Kirgiz horse is his endurance over long distances, speed and quickness of movement, further more not being spooky and being able to endure hunger, thirst, bad weather, his toughness under rider or weight as a pack horse; undemanding in feeding and care with dry build of the body. This unusual toughness of the Kirgiz horse can be understood only if we get familiar with the hard “pasture” lifestyle, lasting many centuries, to which the horse as well as the people completely adopted. This horse spends all his life outside under the sky, in blizzards, cold, freezing winds, rains and thunderstorms, in dust and immense heat of the sun. The winter they spend in hunger for most part and if there was sufficient grazing through the summer months, they manage to store enough fat from which they live like the camels for example do. In winter the only horse feed is dry grass, which they dig out from under the snow.
The Kirgiz horse is typical mountain horse. He demonstrates great endurance at work in the high mountain climate of lower atmospheric pressure and thin air. The Kirgiz horse easily and calmly handles steep mountain climbs or descents above deep ravines, he is surefooted in narrow mountain trails and crossing the strong stream rivers and walking at ease over large scattered rocks.
The mares excel in milk production. The Kumys, made out of the mare’s milk is favorite nutrition of the indigenous people and it was/is also used for medical purposes. These qualities of the Kirgiz horses deserve special attention and are connected to the higher proliferation of the more refined breeds. For the refinement of the Kirgiz horse is used the Don, Budionny and English thoroughbred. For the improvement and massiveness of the Kirgiz horses today is also responsible the more cultural breeding/raising on the “tabuns” as well as additional feeding/hay during the winter months. Sometimes for the poor development of the youngster is often responsible the milking of the mares, when the foals do not receive additional feed after they’ve been weaned.
Mongolian horses today – still not much to eat.
In the vast breeding region there are recognized three types of the Kirgiz horses:
- Mountain Kirgiz, bred in the mountains of Kazakhstan, is somewhat smaller (120-130 cm in the withers = 11’3 – 12’3 hands), but from the racial perspective the most typical. He serves as a riding horse as well as a (soumar) packhorse.
- Adayev Kirgiz, bred near the Altai Mountains, is taller and purely the riding type with fast and roomy gallop. A good horse can gallop 20 km (12.3 miles) in 35 minutes or in quick pace 7 to 8 km (4.35-4.37 miles) in one hour.
- Kirgiz named “Djabe” is the heaviest form bred in Altai and southern Kazakhstan. He is used under saddle as well as in light draft/pull. He has longer neck and shoulder blade that fits easier into the harness yoke; therefore he is more suitable for the work in the agriculture, than the previous two types. These horses are also kept for meat, usually on nicer pastures with wild alfalfa (Medicago falcata) and various halophiles near the salty lakes.