Sometimes referred to as Do-san-ko, the Hokkaido horse breed originated on the northernmost island of Japan, which consequently is also named Hokkaido. Because the island has many mountains and rough terrian, this horse breed is integral to the Hokkaido society, especially to farmers.
Standing about 13 hands high (52 inches, 132 centimeters), the Hokkaido is quite large and therefore able to carry heavy loads. Typically, the horse's coat is colored roan, black,, or gray, although other colors may occasionally be seen.
Because this horse breed is well-adapted to its home, it is best to rear them in conditions that mirror those of the Hokkaido island.
The Tohoku breeding district in Japan is often credited for producing the Hokkaido stock. According to experts, horses from this region were transported to Hokkaido -- the northernmost of the four main islands that make up the country of Japan -- in the 15th century. The offspring was then crossbred with the Do-san-ko, a breed that was conditioned to severe and shifting environmental conditions. Finally, a breeding program for the Hokkaido was established in the late 20th century
Unfortunately, the Hokkaido has become a rare horse breed, prompting the active participation of the Japanese government and its citizens to continually breed and protect the Hokkaido horses.