Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mustangs in the Russian Far East

Everybody knows that mustangs are horses which have become wild.  Big herds of those used to live in the American prairies. Horses can survive in the wild in much more severe climate, for example, in the Russian Far East. For example, I met these very handsome horses at the mouth of the Koppi River near Sovgavan. They did not let me to approach, and in general behaved watchfully. I’ve got info from local fishermen, that this pair lives here already a few years. Their owners, geologists, had gone long ago, and the horses still live at the meadow between the forest and the Sea of Japan.
Sakhalin Island looks like an enormous sturgeon: it has the nose (Shmidt Peninsula) directed north, wide opened mouth (Sakhalinskiy Bay), long and sharp dorsal fin in the east (Terpeniya Peninsula).  The tail of the fish is almost reaching Japan. The western blade of this caudal fin is named Krillion Peninsula. Here I met the Sakhalin mustangs. A few horses were living for many years near an abandoned settlement at the mouth of the Naychi River. In June, when is this picture was shot, the horses feel good, but how do they survive the long Sakhalin winter, when the island is heaped up by deep snows?
Into the tundras of north-western Kamchatka the horses got not by chance. Someone suggested to utilize them for herding the reindeer, and the idea appeared successful. The Yakutian breed of horses feel fine in a strange climate – not as harsh as in yakutia, but windy and damp. The whole year round they graze in tundra without every care or additional feeding. The Koryak reindeer herders mastered a new mean of transportation. It is much easier to work with the semi-wild herds from the horseback than on foot.  
Late autumn; the horses are crossing the freezing Utkholok River
 It is not Texas and not Mongolia. The Yakut horses graze in tundra of western Kamchatka.
Some of the native Koryak reindeer herders now ride horses as well as the Mongols.   

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