The Lithunian Heavy Draft originated
in Russia at the end of the 19th century and has only been registered
since 1963. However, it is a breede that has become hugely popular
and by 1964 there were 62,000 Lithuanian Heavy Draft horses in Lithuania,
which speaks both of their demand and their fertility. The Lithuanian
Heavy Draft came about through a combination of the local Zhmud
horses being crossed with Swedish Ardennes and the Finnish horse.
The breed is preserved through a process whereby potential stallions
have to pass a series of performance tests before being allowed
to be used as breeding stock.
The Lithuanian has an excellent quiet
temperament and is extremely strong and durable making them suitable
for heavy draft and agricultural work. They are very long
lived and have a high fertility rate, which has ensured the breed's
continuance. They also cope very well in harsh and extreme climates,
and are seemingly resistant to the cold. They are also notable for
their particularly good walking and trotting gait - which is unusual
and a heavy draft breed.
In appearance, they have a nicely proportioned
head that tends to be on the coarse side. They have a muscular,
arched neck with a flowing mane, and a wide, deep chest. The withers
are fairly pronounced, and the back is short and powerful with a
rounded croup and high-set tail. Occasionally they will have a dipped
back, which can be a sign of weakness, but there are current efforts
to selectively breed this defect out. Their frame could be described
as massive, and appears more so due to the size of the body compared
to the length of leg. Their legs are usually short and strong with
good joints and well-formed feet, although they do occasionally
have cow hocks and pin toes. They stand between 15 and 16 hh and
can be bay, black, grey, chestnut, or roan.
There are some similarities between
the Lithuanian Heavy Draft and the heavier of the Latvian Harness
Horses, namely in their conformation and paces. They are still used
for agricultural work in some areas and are also used for crossbreeding
with the native Altai horse tom improve their meat and milk production.
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