By PetMD Editorial on Jan. 3, 2010

The Kalmyk is a horse breed that was used mainly by the Kalmyk people during the 17th Century. This breed is likened to the Kirgiz horse, but it is taller and has longer legs. It is primarily used as a harness and riding horse because of its stamina, strength and resistance to extreme weather and environmental conditions. Today, the Kalmyk horse is rare, with only a few hundred head having the same attributes as the ancient breed.


Physical Characteristics


The Kalmyk is often described as an average-size horse with a fast stride and great tolerance for extreme weather conditions. One of the most outstanding features of the Kalmyk horse is its legs; they have a well-developed and strong croup and well-developed legs with cow-hocked hind legs.


The Kalmyk is relatively big. It stands from 14.2 to 15 hands high (57-60 inches, 145-152 centimeters). It has a firm and sound conformation that provides it with great stamina, strength and flexibility. It is able to weather extremely severe conditions because of its efficient metabolism, which allows the horse to get fat quickly, and its special coat that thickens during winter. The Kalmyk has a small neck, thick and firm skin, a Roman head, and a short and carp-like back. It is usually bay and sorrel.


Personality and Temperament


Kalmyk horses are docile and calm by nature. They are not easily affected by weather conditions, hunger or fatigue. All these traits make the Kalmyk very useful as a harness and riding horse.




The Kalmyk horse can take care of itself. It requires little care, and it can always find food and water for itself. Even so, it has its limits: over-use and abuse of the Kalmyk horse will affect its performance in the long run.




The Kalmyk is usually vulnerable when it is young because it takes a much longer time to mature, compared to other horse breeds. Kalmyk horses however, are bred in harsh conditions and have proved their great resilience and resistance to diseases. They thrive in semi-desert conditions, in steppes and even in extremely cold places. They can consume a large amount of food, which they store as fat, which in turn is digested slowly when food is scarce. They can thrive in all conditions and have been known to survive extreme temperatures, extreme scarcity of food and exhausting journeys.


History and Background


During the 1600s, the Kalmyk people of Mongolian descent went to Russia from Dzungaria and brought their livestock like sheep, cattle and horses with them. At that time, it is believed that Kalmyk horses numbered up to a million head. Selective breeding was done with the Kalmyk horses until the early part of the 1940s. After that, no conscious effort was made to breed and propagate the Kalmyk until the late 1980s, when a group was organized to determine and record the members of this breed. Their inquiries led the members of this group to believe that there are only a few horses remaining in the wild that exhibit the original gene pattern of the Kalmyk. Breeding farms were then built to save the breed from certain extinction.

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