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Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Mongolia: Culture and Development


Horses play a central role in Mongolian history and culture, yet there has been little academic research on breeding methods, either traditional or modern in Mongolia. The goal of good horse breeding is to maintain and improve the quality of the breed. By looking at the traditional breeding, we gain a better understanding of what Mongolian culture values in their horses and what they are hoping to pass on to the next generation. We can also learn how this information is passed on in an oral tradition from generation to generation of horse trainers and herders. In traditional Mongolian horse breeding we see that horses live a nearly wild existence and are influenced greatly by natural selection. Genetically, bloodlines are passed down the female side as fathers pass mares down to their sons and stallions are brought from a different herd to ensure genetic variability.

Currently, Western breeding methods are having an impact in Mongolia as some people are crossing foreign breeds with native Mongolian mares. There is a number of issues with these crossed and foreign horses. They have trouble surviving in the Mongolian climate and need extra care, they are expensive, and cannot be used in the traditional ways. These crossbreds, however, are more competitive in short distance racing and are having an impact in the sport of racing. Because the horses are so expensive there is potential for racing to turn into a sport of the elite, we also see a new distribution of labor in the racing community. In the future many anticipate changes in racing rules because of the impact of crossbreed horses. Despite the controversy many believe that the crossbreeding is helping to improve the over all quality of racehorse and in the future there is hope of creating a Mongolian racing breed with international merit. Though crossbreeding seems very different from the traditional horse breeding, we can see many parallels. The bloodlines are still being kept on the female side and the stallions are being imported from foreign genetics.


Animal Sciences | Biology | Genetics


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