The Bashkort, commonly referred to as the Bashkir, is an esteemed equine breed associated with the Bashkir people and bred mostly within Bashkortostan (formerly Bashkiria) of Russia, having historical and cultural significance for both people. Breeding within its territory largely began around 1980. From its southern Ural Mountains outcroppings all the way through to Volga Riverbanks it stretches over an incredible geographical expanse spanning decades and even millennia!
Ufa, the capital city of Bashkortostan, serves as an epicenter for Bashkir horse breeding efforts. The unique topography and climate of this region have had an enormous influence in shaping the characteristics and resilience of this breed of horse, not only representing it through riding ability but also as living testament to the area’s rich cultural legacy.
Economic Recognition and Breeding Efforts in the 19th Century
In the 19th century, it became clear of the economic importance of Bashkir horses and effort was put forth to increase their working capabilities.
Alongside its working capabilities, its traditional role in milk and meat production was also highlighted.
1845 marked the establishment of breeding centers dedicated to improving and protecting the breed’s qualities.
Crossbreeding of Different Breeds
As part of its breeding strategy to enhance its traits, Bashkir horses were crossed with Russian Heavy Draught breeds as part of an intensive selection program.
Experimental crosses with Kazakh and Yakut horses were conducted, increasing its genetic diversity and robustness.
Population Development and Its Significance
Bashkortostan, Russia’s native home for horses, holds an important place in Russia’s equine population statistics – ranking third overall among federal subjects for horse numbers.
Bashkir horse population growth was apparent early in the 21st century. From 94,470 horses in 2003, their number increased significantly to over 137,000 horses by 2011.
This growth demonstrates not only its resilience and adaptability but also its cultural and economic importance in the region.
The Bashkir horse stands as a powerful reminder of humanity and horse relationship throughout time. From regional workhorse to breed of national significance in Russia, its journey exemplifies culture, economics and animal husbandry at play in human-horse relations throughout its long existence.
Characteristics of the Bashkir:
Stature and Build:
Size: This breed typically stands 142 cm at its withers.
Body: With an average girth measuring 180 cm (70 inches).
Head and Neck: This breed can be identified by its large head and short neck, contributing to its sturdy look.
Withers and Back: The Bashkir is notable for having low withers and flat back features which add strength.
Legs: Their legs feature short, heavy bone structures with cannon bones reaching up to 20 cm (8 inches).
Coat and Color:
Coat: This breed is best known for their dense, often curly coat that serves to insulate them against harsh climates.
Mane and Tail: Both mane and tail of this horse feature thick locks, adding to its rugged appearance.
Common coat colors include bay, chestnut, mouse grey and roan.
Genetics and Varieties:
According to research done in 1990, an analysis showed that American Bashkir Curlies may not be descendants of the Bashkir breed despite having similar curly coats.
Bashkir horses come in two distinct varieties for riding: lighter mountain type for mountainous terrain and heavier steppe type with wide shoulders.
Adaptability and Resilience:
The Bashkir horse is an extremely hardy breed, capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions.
When managed in herds, these horses can withstand snowfall, blizzards and temperatures as low as -40degC without issue; proof of its adaptability to harsh climatic conditions in its native region.
Bashkir horses are known for their quiet and gentle disposition, making them suitable for novice riders and children. Additionally, their intelligence and willingness to work make them versatile in various equestrian disciplines. Though typically gentle creatures, Bashkirs can often display some spirit which endears them to many horse enthusiasts.
Bashkir horses were once widely employed for riding, light draft work and milk production for the traditional Bashkir beverage kumis. Today however, their versatility is being showcased through sport riding programs, leisure riding activities and therapeutic services showcasing them at their best.
With modernization’s decline of need for such versatile workhorses has come their subsequent decrease in numbers, prompting efforts to preserve this unique breed by acknowledging their historical, cultural, and biological importance.