I am in pursuit of, as the title says, a multi-purpose horse, a single breed that can do all the things that the others were only specialized for: travel, labor, companionship, war, speed, strength.
If dog-breeding is any indication, it's that finding the right mix takes some steps. So we start this journey with two fairly similar breeds of horse adapted to the same basic climate:
The Icelandic horse
The Yakutian horse of Siberia
Why am I breeding two similar breeds living in similar conditions? Because each breed has its own characteristics. The Yakutians have to deal with life in Siberia, which can range from 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer to 90 below in the winter.
- A dense coat, obviously
- Antifreezing compounds in the blood
- Their metabolism adjusts to seasonal needs. In fall they accumulate large fat reserves, in winter the metabolic rate is lowered, and in spring they show an increased carbohydrate metabolism, making use of the freshly sprouting grass.
- They may further avoid frostbite by reducing the volume of circulating blood during times of extreme cold
The Icelandic horse has its own characteristic--an extra gait more energy-saving and comfortable than the other four (gallop, canter, walk, trot). This ambling gait made the Icelandic horse a popular breed for use by Middle Age travelers.
So by breeding Icelandics and Yakutians together, I have made a small but strong horse able to both withstand every environmental extreme and amble comfortably over long distances. True or false?