Welcome to the page of the Hokkaido Native Horse
The Hokkaido native horse is commonly known by the name "Dosanko."“dosanko”
is a word widely used to indicate “a person from Hokkaido,” “born in Hokkaido,”
or “something made in Hokkaido,” but it is said that this interpretation of the word came from the common name of this slightly small horse.
It is believed that in older times there were no horses in Hokkaido.As
the economic interchange between Hokkaido and Honshu started to develop
around 1600, and as the economy of Hokkaido started to grow, the Nanbu
horse, which is the native horse of the Tohoku area of Honshu, entered
Hokkaido.There are a variety of opinions as to whether there were horses
earlier than that time, but unfortunately there is no evidence in the ancient
history.The history of the horse of Hokkaido may become clearer in the
future as more becomes known about the ancient history of Hokkaido.
Today about 1,200 Dosanko live in Hokkaido, and are mainly used for horseback riding.
In the past the Dosanko was mainly used to carry a load on its back, and
its work was to carry supplies as it can carry a load of 200kg on its back.
One can say that the development of Hokkaido was advanced on the back of
this native horse of Hokkaido.
The Dosanko carried travelers, rice, miso (soybean paste), wood, futons (Japanese mattress), herring, kombu (sea weed), marine products, agricultural items such as young plants; work done nowadays by car or truck. Today, the current energy source is oil, but the energy sources then were people, horses and other draft animals.
Particularly in the northeast region of Japan, the horse was the main means
of transportation. Due to the road conditions, the topography, and political
circumstances of the time, the use of the wagon did not flourish. When
power transmission lines made of steel frames, as are seen in many parts
of the world, were built in the mountains, the Dosanko carried the materials
such as steel frames to the mountains where there were no roads. Also,
the Dosanko played an active part in the transport of supplies to construction
sites such as dams deep in the mountains. Nowadays, this has changed to
using helicopters.The Dosanko is not of much use in agricultural or forestry
or logging due to its small build, and weak pulling power. However it can
be used for light agricultural work.These days there is no need to carry
things on horseback. However, although small, this native horse of Hokkaido
inherited stamina and physical strength. Because of these characteristics,
this native horse of Hokkaido has recently found favor for horse trekking,
horseback archery (Japanese traditional), horseback riding for handicapped
people, and horse therapy.
Also, the traditional method of placing a load onto horseback should be
saved as part of the valuable traditional horse culture of our country
and should be handed down to the next generation. This method of loading
a horse is called "dasai," or in the local tongue "danzuke"
and can be traced back to the year 800 (the Heian era) or even to the time
when the horse came to Japan. Historical evidence is poor, and the historical
beginning is hard to determine. Based on a figure drawn on an old picture
scroll, an estimate can be made. This valuable part of traditional culture
is now only preserved in Hakodate of Hokkaido. This loading method is done
by loading the cargo with a single rope on both sides. To preserve this
tradition, man, skill (technology), horse, and harness are all needed.
For if even one of these missing, the traditional cargo-loading method
will vanish from Japan.
The Hokkaido Native Horse Preservation Association is working to preserve
and make known the culture of the Hokkaido native horse.
Your support is very much appreciated.