The Dikaya are a breed of wild horse found only in Cymeria. Prized for their stamina and versatility, they range the foothills, mountain valleys, and even the higher alpine meadows. A smaller variant of the breed can be found on the plains and grasslands all over Cymeria.
The Dikaya are Cymeria’s top export and are highly prized. The Cymeri are careful to keep the horses from being bred outside of the country and only sell and trade geldings and non-gestating mares. The mares bring the highest prices as the nobles and warriors of other lands crossbreed them with their heavier draft style horses to get a durable, but more nimble saddle horse. It is likely that some Dikaya have been caught and taken from Cymeria illegally. Still, there would be too few of these animals to seriously impact the breed or Cymeria’s profit margin. Patrols watch for poachers, and if herds of Dikaya stray too close to the borders, they round them up and move them to interior lands.
Domestication and Use
Historically, the Dikaya are allowed to roam free and breed in the wild. The Cymeri maintain a benevolent association with the horses so when a weanling is caught for domestication, it does not tend to traumatize the herds. In fact, during particularly harsh winters, Cymeri horse-masters provide food for the horse herds (hay, grains, maize, etc.). Periodically, a herd is rounded up and the young horses captured for training.
Training for Battle Dikaya takes many years. Nothing heavier than a light training saddle and harness touch a Dikaya’s back until they are fully grown and developed at four years old. During the years leading up to being gentled to a saddle, they are trained in harness and on long lines and begin developing their agility, movements, and learning voice commands. It is rare for a war horse to enter service before its seventh or eighth year. Fortunately, Dikayas have very long life spans and can work under saddle past the age of thirty.
Cymerian Guard Use
When a young man or woman enters Guard service, they are assigned an older horse for their term of service. Should they elect to remain in the Guard, they will be required to choose a young animal and train it themselves thus creating a strong bond between Guard and animal, even if sometimes adversarial due to the nature of a war horse. That animal remains with them for life even if, as it ages out of service, the Guardsman has to train and develop others.
Almost all Dikaya are cross-trained so that one animal can serve many purposes.
Color and Confirmation
Colors range from the common solid colors; bay, black, white, chestnut, and sorrel to the primitive dun colors, grays, roans, bi-colors (paints, tobiano, pinto, etc.).
In general, the overall conformation of the breed includes powerfully muscled bodies, agile movements with elegant action, thick mane and tail (often wavy), and feathering on lower legs (from knee and hock to fetlocks). The breed has powerful overall conformation and good bone structure. Dikayas have long, arched necks and well-chiseled, short-eared heads. They have powerful, sloping shoulders, compact, muscular bodies with strong, sloping hindquarters and low-set tails. Their limbs are comparatively short and strong.
There are, however, subsets of Dikaya that have been selectively bred for specific purposes. These variances are named for their primary use, usually appended to the name Dikaya.
Battle Dikaya have been bred from the largest, most massive Dikaya found in the wild. Generations of refining this sub-breed have resulted in specific traits and characteristics. These horses tend to over sixteen hands tall, much heavier of body, with incredibly powerful shoulders, haunches, and strong legs. Their manes, tails, and feathers tend to be much longer and thicker. In temperament, they are less docile and more prone to fighting.
Battle-Dikaya includes a smaller, lighter bodied variant often called a Skirmisher as these horses are faster. Some Guardsmen prefer to train these animals for full battle as well.
These horses are not exported.
This refers to any of the smaller Dikaya, generally under 15.2 hands, bred for speed over short distances (not to be confused with sprinting although some make good sprinters. The majority of this type of Dikaya are designed to run flat out for eight to ten miles (the distance between Courier Relay Stations). Though considered to have the highest stamina of all Dikaya. Like all other Dikaya, these horses never feel the weight of a rider until fully grown at four years old. Lightweight training saddles are used from age two to accustom the horse to its feel and the feel of the tightened girth strap.
These horses are not exported.
This is the most common of the breed types and is what most people are referring to when they say Dikaya. These are the horses that fit the overall common description of Dikaya. They are generally used for riding and pulling light wagons and carriages.
Mature geldings and virgin mares can be exported. The exportation of stallions, colts, fillies and gestating mares is strictly prohibited.
Draft-Dikayas are massive animals, rarely less than sixteen hands, and like Battle-Dikaya, have powerfully muscled bodies, necks, shoulders, and haunches. They are, however, bred for docility and a desire to work (i.e., to please). They are used primarily as farm and dray horses (pulling or carrying heavy loads). Draft-Dikayas are not normally trained to saddle although some poorer households probably use them for limited riding.
Draft-Dikaya geldings and virgin mares are available for export. The exportation of stallions, colts, fillies and gestating mares is strictly prohibited.
The Herák is recognized as a separate breed from the Dikaya. The breed was created by selectively crossing smaller Draft and Battle Dikaya with lighter bodied horses of other breeds. They are rarely taller than fifteen hands, usually far less. Gradually, there was enough consistency in the conformation and temperament of the offspring to that they were distinguished with their own breed name. Heráks have become the national horse of the Dwarrow, and large numbers can be found in Tynar-Dazûr, with the second largest population in Cymeria. However, purebred Heráks are less common in Cymeria as they are often crossed with the larger variants of Dikaya to increase height.
Exportation of purebred Heráks is restricted. The primary purchaser of any Cymerian Heráks would be the Dwarrow when they need to widen their own Herák’s bloodlines.
Although the breed’s conformation resembles that of a light draft horse, Herák Horses are quite graceful and nimble for their size, a product of both genetics and training. Their stride tends to be long and floating although well-trained Dikaya can shorten their stride and perform many dressage movements with ease. Their gait makes them a pleasure to ride when one has to be in the saddle for long hours at a time.
Dikayas also have a unique natural gait as well as the usual walk, trot, canter, and gallop called the running-walk. This extra-smooth, gliding gait is basically the same as the flat walk with a noticeable difference in the rate of speed between the two gaits. The breed can travel 10 to 20 miles per hour at this gait. As the speed is increased, the horse over-steps the front track with the back by a distance of six to eighteen inches. It is this motion that gives the rider a feeling of gliding through the air as if propelled by some powerful but smooth-running machine.
As a general rule Dikaya tend to be even-tempered and somewhat gentle although not without spirit. However, the stallions selected for war training are the exception to that rule.
Purebred breeding Dikaya horses are found only in Cymeria. This is one of Cymeria’s main exports (second only to moonglobes. For this reason, allowing foreign countries access to breeding animals is closely monitored. Exporting, trading or selling certain breed variants to foreign nations is prohibited.
We have blended several breeds to come up with our Dikaya and Herák horses, so there is not an absolute standard for their physical appearance beyond what is described above. The breed models we’ve chosen for the Dikaya are Friesians, Andalusians, and Gypsy Vanners (Note: The Gypsy Vanner is the model for the Herák horse).
Gallery (WORK IN PROCESS)
The images in the gallery are a few that have been used for various characters’ horses. Please do not duplicate these images for your characters’ mounts!