The Heihe Horse Breed

China is credited with the invention of the stirrup and is rich in equestrian history. The country is huge with a large range of climates and geographical terrains. Many of the breeds that originated there have bloodlines that go back to ancient times. The animals differ along with the countryside and many have remained isolated so they have basically pure lineage.

The Heihe horse breed originates from the border between Russia and China.  It is named for the city of Heihe which is located in the Heilongjiang River Basin. These animals have their roots in a mixture of breeds. Transportation and agriculture are primary sources of income for the residents in this region and the horses were bred with these purposes in mind. 

The development of the Heihe horse is documented in the Longsha summary.  The Soulun nation (which occupied the area at one time) sent Mongolian horses into the city and these were followed by an unknown breed brought in by the Russians. Around 1930 Orlov trotters and Percherons were added to the mix. A Russian strain of Mongolian was brought in about 1937 and the Keshan stud farm was established. Anglo-Norman stallions were mainly used for breeding at first. Despite the different influx of breeds, selective breeding wasn’t done until 1955. The North Horse Farm was founded in the same year and the breed was officially recognized in 1963. 

This particular area has a fairly wide range of weather and as a result, the Heihe breed is pretty adoptable to sudden climate changes. They are hardy animals that unless overworked, have a tendency to remain strong and healthy with relatively little care by humans. There are two strains of the horse, one a lighter draft and the other a more robust draft. Both are used for riding, packing, draft and farm work.

The Heihe horses stand between 14.2 and 15.2 hands. They have a medium head with a straight profile and large, expressive eyes. The ears are long and the neck medium in length (which emphasizes the length of the ears) and has a wide base. The forelegs are more pronounced than the cannons and the hocks are usually crooked. The withers are high and slope downward to the much lower croup. These animals are usually bay in color although they can be chestnut, black or gray.

These horses are willing, obedient and have wonderful endurance. They can travel tirelessly for long periods of time. They are hard-working and gentle animals. It’s little wonder they’re still valued by the people in the region.