Kiso horse


conformation large head, flat withers, upright shoulders,
short body, good feet
colour all colours
height 13 hands the breed.
uses draught, harness, riding

Horses from the mountainous Kiso region of central Japan were bred primarily as warhorses, some 10,000 being provided as cavalry mounts for the warrior Yoskinaka Kiso’s army in the 13th century. Later, during the Edo (1600-1867) and the Meiji (1868-1903) periods, Japan was almost constantly at war, for which she needed horses, but because of the diminutive size of the Kiso, breeding pure was discouraged and most were crossed with the bigger Western breeds.

Kiso horse

Kiso horse

During World War II, a government edict demanded the castration of all Kiso stallions, which had a dire effect on Were it not for the Japanese belief in keeping a sacred white horse at certain shrines, the Kiso would have died out completely but one was found at a Shinto shrine that was kept as a holy horse and therefore not gelded.

The horse, named Shinmei, and a Kiso mare named Kayama bred Dai-san Haruyama in 1951 — the last of the purebred Kiso. The modern Kiso is a result of back-breeding among the descendants of Dai-san Haruyama and other Kiso lines. There are ranches in Japan that specialize in breeding Kisos, but there are believed to be only just over 100 left.

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