The Priob Pony also known as Ob pony or Priobskaya originates from Western Siberia. It is not known how many of this sturdy, small draft horse (or pony), exist or if they are currently being bred. The breed is extremely similar to several horse breeds from the area with the differences between them being almost undetectable. There is no existing breed registry and the ponies may have been so mixed with other breeds (the Yakut and Narym for instance) that a true purebred no longer remains.
The breed was probably named for the Ob River (also known as Kalta or Omar). They have been raised in the traditional way. The animals are put out to pasture to fend for themselves and caught as the need arises. The herd deals with mud and swarming insects during the summer months. The winter months bring heavy snowfall and temperatures that are regularly well below freezing. The native tribes of the region needed a sturdy pack animal with great endurance and the ability to survive on little food. Their main job was to carry goods and supplies as the Ob River is a major trade route in the area. They were also used to work in the forests. In extreme climates animals are considered a valuable asset and utilized to the fullest extent. Ponies not only provided a hardy worker but were also slaughtered for their meat. The fermented beverage kumiss is made from milking mares’ milk.
They were cross-bred with the Estonian native horse by the local tribes. Interestingly, the Estonian breed is sited as being one of the last “Northern forest breeds” and it is mentioned is some sources that they have not been significantly influenced by cross-breeding outside of the forest breeds. It may be that Ob genetics are heavily mixed into this lighter but still strong breed.
The roots of the Ob breed probably go back to the now extinct Tundra horse which shared many features with Mongolian breed. The Priob pony is a small draft breed standing between 13 and 14 hands tall. As can be expected given the climate, their coats are shaggy and they have long tails and manes. Thick feathering protects the bottom of their legs and falls over the hooves. The hooves themselves are broad and flat which enable the animal to deal with the muddy terrain. The breed is built sturdy with a solid skeleton which supports a heavily muscled body. Short legs and neck and a Roman nose are also characteristics of the ponies. The most common color (although not only one) is dun. Grullo (mouse-colored) and bay duns are the most common with the dorsal stripe down the back and often light, zebra-like stripes on the legs. They have long life spans and are capable of working into their twenties.
Unfortunately many horse breeds from this unsettled part of the world are disappearing along with the nations they served. Very little to no current information is available on the Priob breed although their role in the history of the local tribes is undeniable