There are many different
breeds of horse in China, most of which are ancient and probably
descended from the Mongolian horse. Although many of the breeds
are small in stature, they are often considered to be small horses,
not ponies. They will quite often, when provided with good care
and food, grow considerably in height. There is one breed that is
though to be an actual pony breed and this is the little known Guoxia,
found in the southwest parts of China. Many of the breeds
in China bear distinct regional differences, so although they may
have descended from common ancestors, they have developed differently
according to their habitats and environments. In this the Chinese
Guoxia is no exception.
Unfortunately there is
little information available regarding the breed's roots or heritage,
beyond the fact that it is likely to be extremely old and to have
developed through the centuries. A bronze statue has been recovered
of a Guoxia, dated approximately 2,000 years old. This is quite
an indication of the breed's age. Their name, translated, means
'under fruit tree horse', which is probably indicative of one of
their early uses. Very small in height, only reaching a maximum
of 11 hh and quite often smaller than this, the Guoxia would, therefore,
have been useful for working among the fruit trees, collecting fruit.
The breed was largely forgotten and considered extinct until it
was rediscovered in 1981 and a breed association was established.
The Chinese Guoxia makes
a very good children's pony and are also useful in harness, despite
their small stature. Generally they are known to have good temperaments,
being quiet and willing, and also tough and enduring. In appearance
they are not very refined, and tend to bear some primitive horse
features. They usually have a small but heavy head with small alert
ears. The neck is short, and the back often short and straight.
Their shoulders are also quite straight, but the legs are well formed
and strong with good, hard feet. The Chinese Guoxia is usually bay,
roan, or gray in color.
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