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'The Eastern Section of the Great Vasyugan Mire has been nominated for the Unesco World Heritage List'
A.J.Haywood

Colder than the North Pole, but winter is still fun for some

By Anna Liesowska
17 December 2014

With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields.

Stunning nature and animals of Yakutia. Picture: Maria Vasilyeva

It’s not often the word 'relaxing' can be used when referring to the extreme temperatures of a Siberian winter. But that is exactly how to describe a group of horses during a photo shoot in Yakutia as the mercury dipped below -50C.

Indeed while their human herders needed to layer up - with frost growing on their cheeks - the little Yakuts appeared oblivious to the fact it was colder outside than it was at the North Pole.

The most northern breed in the world, the Yakut horse somehow manages to live outdoors and graze all year round without any protection from the harsh cold. With very thick and long fur, thick skin and a layer of fat, they are the most frost resistant of all known breeds – they simply have to be since they live in Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic.

With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 
Out at -50C? Easy! Pictures: Maria Vasilyeva


A series of images, taken by photographer Maria Vasilyeva, shows the beautiful creatures enjoying a run about isolated fields without even a need for a blanket to keep them warm. With the winter sun setting on the horizon, the horses happily gather together on the icy wastelands, at an agricultural cooperative in the village of Abaga, about 140 miles from the city Yakutsk.

She said: 'It was lower than -50C. Maybe you think it is not so easy to shoot pictures at such temperatures, but as for me there are no difficulties. I was born in Yakutia and got used to the frosts. It was fantastic to be out and picture those horses'.

'I love my homeland and I love being close to nature'. 

With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields  

No matter the weather, both the workers and the animals have to spend a lot of time outdoorsPictures: Maria Vasilyeva


The agricultural cooperative was established in 2002 for breeding purposes and at the moment the facility has more than 200 horses and the same number of cows.

No matter the weather, both the workers and the animals have to spend a lot of time outdoors. In the summer temperatures can reach a high of 30C, while in winter the mercury regularly plummets past -40C – an astonishing difference of 70 degrees or more.

In December when frosts are at their worst, the men have to keep checks on their herds and make sure the animals have enough food, and have not fallen ill. As the images show, though, it’s clear that the horses fare better in the cold climate than the farm workers.

The Yakut horse averages about 150cm in height and shares a number of obvious similarities with the Shetland pony, including its sturdy nature, thick mane and heavy hair coat. Its winter coat reaches about 10cm in length, and the horse also has a very thick busy tail and a long mane that not only covers its neck but its shoulders.

They are particularly good at foraging for food on their own and can even reach grass from under the snow, using their hooves to dig beneath the frozen ground.

With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 


With thick coat to keep it warm, the little Yakut horse loves nothing better than running about the frozen fields 
The most northern breed in the world. Pictures: Maria Vasilyeva


Yakut horses are used for their meat and milk, while their warm fur can be turned into clothes. The local government is trying to increase their numbers in the region to 200,000 by 2020 as part of a scheme to also attract more young people to work as herders.

While temperatures of -50C are expected again over the next few days in the region, forecasters say it will be a warmer -25C at the North Pole.

Comments (2)

Beautiful pictures. Very interesting article.
Janice, USA
03/03/2016 07:40
0
0
Very, very beautiful pictures !. The wonderful horses are silhouette like prehistoric horses which was painted by caveman when the weather was cold in whole Europ ("grotte Chauvet" and other)
Congratulation to Maria Vasilyeva. Vous avez raison d'être fière de votre magnifique pays aussi sauvage et de ses habitants.
Jocelyne, FRANCE
21/12/2014 17:47
4
0
1

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