The Zemaituka, also called the Zhumd, is an ancient breed
originally from Lithuania and now existing in very few numbers. The exact history of the Zemaituka
is not known, but they are believed to be closely related to the Konik, from Poland, and are probably
descended from the Tarpan. However, over the years the Zemaituka has been influenced by other
breeds, namely those of native Russian origins and also the light horse breeds from Poland.
More recently, during the 19th century, the Zemaituka
has had infusions of Arabian blood, and this Arab ancestry can often be seen in their heads. With
the influence of the Arabian blood, two different types of the Zemaituka came about - one of better,
finer quality saddle type, and the other, having less Arabian blood, more suitable for draft work.
Now there is less distinction between the two because after World War Two there was a conscious
effort to try to increase the size and bulk of the breed, and now they are suitable for both riding
They live in extremely harsh climates with poor forage
and freezing temperatures, which have both greatly contributed to their development. As
a result they are frugal feeders, possessing incredible stamina and endurance and seemingly unaffected
by fatigue. The Zemaituka is generally very quiet and has a biddable temperament and is suitable
and widely used for riding, light draft, and farm work. In spite of their fairly massive frame,
they are surprisingly agile and athletic. For these reasons, when crossed with a lighter, larger
breed, they produce excellent sport horses.
These ponies have an attractive head with large, kind
eyes and mobile ears. The neck is broad and muscular and they are deep in the chest. The shoulders
are rather straight, they have a compact, short, straight back, a sloping croup, and a low-set
tail. Their legs are usually short and muscular but can have poor hocks, although the feet are
well formed with very hard horn. As far as colors, they are often mouse dun or dun with a dorsal
stripe and black points, which is a clear indication of their ancient origins. They can also be
black, brown, bay or palomino, and stand between 13.2 and 14.2 hh.
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