The Jerrahn Crested Horse, named for the Jerrah borderlands, is one of the most widespread domesticated animals in the Korweyn Empire. An outsider would have to part with an ungodly amount of cash to acquire one of these horses, as they are greatly cherished by the Kassites, who see these as an irreplaceable part of their domestic and military success, a claim not unfounded in fact.
Appearance. Much like their masters, the Jerrahn have a very proud, strong appearance, and are quite uniform, the only major variations generally being in color. The average height tends to be about 1.7 peds at the withers, with females only a few thumbsbreadths shorter. At a little more than two peds long, their powerful, endurance based bodies are a little thinner than would be expected of their 16 pygge weight. In particular, their snouts seem especially long, and possess a a gentle, though pronounced, downwards curve. Their definitive crest, a bare growth of bone about three nailsbreadths high, is located just above the eyes and resembles carefully cut off horn. Pyramidal in shape, its about six nailsbreadths long and five wide, and makes the mane stop a little sooner on the neck than most would expect.
They've big, expressive brown and black eyes, with an extra membrane developed to protect themselves from blowing dust. Tails and manes are both long, gray and require frequent grooming. It's often a source of pride among owners to have well kept, braided manes and tails, and they frequently decorate them with beads and other fineries for festivals. Common coat colours are black, brown and white, though a fair number of individuals have been found with a reddish colour, and all sorts of spotted combinations of these colors are found with frequency. Their muscular legs possess 'feathers', longer patches of hair beneath their knees that often obscure their large hooves from sight.
Special Abilities. For a horse of their size and weight, the Jerrahn are average in terms of power, speed and agility, but their endurance is what makes them stand out. According to local myth, a rider and his horse once ran from the Aca-Santerra border all the way to the Espesh without stopping, and, while clearly nothing but fanciful lore, it does help to illustrate the phenomenal endurance of these animals - after all, there's a grain of truth in every myth.
Territory. Originally these horses were only found in the Jerrah borderlands, and from there they slowly spread out. Now, one can find them all across Korweyn, eastern Aca-Santerra and even a fair number across northern Nybelmar in various enclaves. Some have even made their way across the seas to Sarvonia, mostly from travelers who had already purchased them before returning.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Jerrahn are mostly found on ranches, and when they are not, they're usually traveling, although there have been reports of wild specimens, but these are most likely the Dwarf Crested Horse, a smaller wild breed that shares ancestry with the Jerrahn. A very intelligent breed, they can be taught several commands, and an experienced rider and well trained horse can navigate at a fast trot by word alone.
They are noted for their fierce loyalty, and have been known to fight to the death in defense of their favorite riders, which brings up another point - they often choose specific riders as their 'favourite', and some will outright refuse to let any others touch them. Because of this they can become a very frustrating breed, especially when one is shared in small peasant families, but this also makes them incredibly good private mounts. They are also incredibly obedient, and will gladly carry a heavy payload in addition to a rider - just don't expect them to go too fast!
During the dry season, they tend to be edgier and more tempermental, especially on Korweynite and Santerran ranches, where they generally have less grains to go around. The Kassites themselves go through great pains to ensure that every horse gets its own share of feed, and actually post guards by the troughs to scold and turn away horses trying to get more than the allotted amount.
When left alone to graze the breed shows a tendency to form 'cliques' amongst themselves. A small group of horses, numbering from five to eight on average, will generally break off from the rest, and graze together until nightfall, when they finally congregate back into a full herd. Experts agree that this practice of forming spaced out groups in the day was a natural development that comes from the wild ancestry, where it was imperative to space out to avoid overgrazing their territory, and coming together at night for, obvious, protection.
Diet. Grass makes up the majority of the Jerrahn's diet, from their pastures on the ranches, sans the dry season, when troughs are dragged out and filled with grain and oats, to try and supplement what cannot be found. Dustorchis, while apparently not a favourite amongst the horses, is frequently ate without any goading by their owners during these times. By warrant of practicality, grains and oats are the preferred food for traveling.
Mating. In Korweyn, breeding is strictly controlled, and only a few individuals are allowed to mate in a year, which can fluctuate from one or two to as much as half of all mares, depending on the needs of the particular ranch. Outside of Korweyn, no one can vouch for the same methods, though it's likely they're bred the same as most other horses.
Mares are sexually receptive from late fall to early spring, though some have been seen to remain receptive all the way into the summer, but these individuals are few and far between, and never allowed to mate, for fear of what the heat would do to a young foal and its exhausted mother. During these seasons, mares and stallions are separated, and only allowed back together in the mid to late fall, or whenever a rancher can be sure mares are no longer receptive. Mares tend to become skiddish and unpredictable during this time, and more than a few inattentive ranchers have met their end dealing with them. On the flip side, stallions, who become ready to mate almost completely in sync with their counterparts, are surprisingly passive for male horses, and, while still much more aggressive than usual, do not pose as much a threat to the ranchers as the skiddish mares can.
When individuals are chosen to mate, a large team of ranchers lead the mare into specialized mating pens, which are tightly spaced to avoid thrashing. Their legs are loosely tethered to restrain her ability to kick. Next, stallions considered to be superior are led in by a smaller team and set up to mate. The Kassites generally leave the pen at this time, save for one, who usually turns their back on the spectacle, out of a cultural sense of dignity. The Korweynites and Santerrans that breed these horses are not known to follow this.
Pregnant mares are exempt from hard work, but are still subject to lighter duties, especially amongst the Kassites, who see the exercise as being integral to the healthy development of a foal. They're also fed more food, and are more likely to get fresh vegetables and even fruit during this time.
Usages. The Jerrahn was bred as a war horse, specifically for long range reconnaissance, skirmishing and other light cavalry duties. While it still does these best - or, as the Kassites would like you to believe, better than every other breed - they've shown in the past few centuries to be well suited to farm duties, thanks to their endurance and obedience. Farmers often use them to carry lighter loads into towns faster than their draught beasts, and also use them to carry the supplies they'll need for the trip itself alongside their heavier beasts of burden.
Myth/Lore. A massive amount of mystique surrounds the Jerrahn, ranging from the myths of its fantastic endurance, to the legends about their origins, to its firmly rooted position in the imaginations of young men and women across the empire. Korweynite youths in particular have taken a liking to horse, whether out of a respect for the empire's steadfast allies, or simply from fantasies about the otherness and power of the Kassites. A popular children's song illustrates this cultural fascination.
BY BARD JUDITH
This Korweyn children's song is chanted by two groups, one which sings the main verse and one which chants the repetitions in brackets. The groups switch on every verse, and often one hears the last verse sung in unison.
"The jerrahn came a-galloping
Origins. According to lore - which cannot be verified - when the Kassites first came to Korweyn, they'd already had horses, massive beasts, said to be as tall as the men and women who rode them, and just as broad, similar to a Kev'lor. They were ill suited to the drier and more arid conditions that awaited them, their size requiring more food than was available. The result was weak, emaciated horses with a dying populations - the Kassites blame this on their failure during their first battles in defense of the Korweynites, and will hear no argument against it - that grew even weaker with every generation. The legend then goes on to explain how, upon seeing the native horses in the area, caught and domesticated a large number of them, but they knew that these smaller horses - called in modern times the Crested Dwarf Jerrahn - would not suit their purposes, nor could they keep a breeding population of pure blooded horses.
The solution? Try to inter breed the small and large horses. In the end, the modern Jerrahn came about, though this legend is disputed, even amongst the Kassites. What is known, is that the wild horses in the area do sport the definitive crest, and that their larger cousins do bear a strong resemblance to them. Most scholars agree that the size of the original horses the horseman brought into Korweyn is greatly exaggerated in the myths, and that they were actually smaller, so the idea of these two species inter breeding does not seem as sketchy.