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Horse Breeds
First Posted: June 28, 2009
Sep 24, 2010

Kiso Horse Breed


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Country of Origin: Extremely Rare Japanese Breed


There are records of horses being raised systematically in the Kiso region of Nagano Prefecture as early as the 6th century. The region was able to produce, according to legends, 10,000 cavalry mounts for Kiso Yoshinaka's army. It is thought that these small horses were introduced from Korea in the third century. They are much like the Tarpan and the Mongolian horses. The ancestors are now extinct. During the Meiji Era, the government had the Kiso stallions castrated and brought in larger stallions to cross into the breed to increase the Kiso size. The pure stain virtually disappeared. It was a disaster. One stallion that survived the castration process, Shinmei, is the single sire who saved the breed. By the use of back breeding the breed's purity and original form remain. However, the Kiso breed is rare.

The breed is being preserved in the region centering on Kaida mura in Kiso County, Nagano Prefecture. There are today 117 Kiso horses, which are often seen in processions in local festivals. They are also used as riding horses.

Physical Description

These horses have large heads, a short, thick neck and short body. The withers are low and flat. They stand 13 hh at the withers. Although pony size they are considered a horse because of their physical characteristics. A dorsal stripe runs down their backs from the mane to their tail. This is considered a primitive marking. They have strong hooves.


Farming, especially in the mountain regions, packing, riding, festivals and war.

For More Information:

Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock
Kiso Pony: Breed Characteristics/Published September 04, 2010 by: Rena Sherwood

Horse Breeds