“All Japan’s equines are thought to have descended from animals brought from the mainland of Asia at various times and by various routes, although they certainly domesticated horses in Japan in the 6th century, and perhaps even earlier.
“The Hokkaido equine – sometimes called Dosanko – is thought to have been brought to Hokkaido, the northernmost of the four main islands of Japan, during the Edo era (1600-1867) by fishermen from Honshu, who sailed across the Tsugaru Strait in search of herring. Their horses were used for transport, but when the fishermen went home in the autumn, they left the horses behind, to survive as best they could in a snow-bound land.
“When the fishermen returned the following spring, they brought new horses, which again would be left behind to fend for themselves. Only the hardiest animals survived and thrived, resulting in the abiding strength for which the Hokkaido is renowned.”
– Horse Breeds of the World, Nicola Jane Swinney, 2006