Issue Date: January 2000

by Bryan Alexander

The Horse Is a Mainstay of Siberian Life

It is midwinter in the Siberian taiga, just north of the Arctic circle. The temperature is bitterly cold. In a forest clearing a group of horses paw at the snow with their hooves to feed on the grasses buried beneath. Their breath freezes instantly in the cold air, and a thick layer of ice has formed in the hair around their nostrils and mouth. Short, stocky, and fat, the animals appear to be in good condition.

Horses might not be a sight normally associated with this harsh environment, but this hardy breed--known as "Yakut"--thrives in the Siberian Republic of Sakha (more commonly known as Yakutia). Remarkably, these horses fend for themselves during the long and bitter Siberian winters. They require no shelter or supplementary feeding, even though the region has the coldest climate in the entire Northern Hemisphere.


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