Breed Spotlight: Black Forest Horse

Breed Spotlight: Black Forest Horse

Black Forest Horse

An endangered horse breed dating back to the 15th century, the Black Forest horse is good for forestry, agriculture, and in more recent times, for harness and riding work. However, agriculture and war-efforts is part of what threatens its numbers. It is one of the options for the player to purchase a draft horse, though it isn’t available in the same district that supplies that quest.

The first breed book for the Black Forest Horse can be found in an abbey, and breeding primarily stuck to the northern part of the region, with heavy ties to monasteries. The first association cropped up in 1896, but it was 1875 where the standards of the breed began to be defined, and it moved from a heavy draft horse to what is referred to as a light-to-medium draft. It is a well-muscled horse with a short neck, and an equally short head. Unlike most people’s picturing of draft horses, there is no feathering around their broad hooves.

Black Forest 2

The breed was merged with another in 1935, though the association had to be restarted following World War II. However, with the mechanization of agriculture and transport, like many other working breeds, the Black Forest Horses’ numbers began to rapidly decline as demand for them lessened. In 2017, 88 stallions and 1077 mares were all that remained registered. Never one to risk losing a horse breed, Astranar quickly swept in and gained just enough horses to begin their own breeding program in the Sphalerite District, where a light draft has plenty of work to do.

Black Forest 1

Breed Characteristics:
Only sorrels are accepted for Black Forest horses, ranging from a normal sorrel to the famous “dark fox” coloring with a nearly black coat and white mane and tail. Because they are so exceptionally rare as a breed, they can be a little more expensive.

Starting Stats: *
Speed:                    2                                              Discipline:       4
Endurance:         3                                               Agility:             3
Strength:             4

* Note, these numbers aren’t set in stone. They are Becca’s way of trying to reduce her knowledge/research of breeds and their particular skills and traits into numbers so when animators and programmers have to look at these horses, they can go, “Oh, this horse can’t turn worth beans but this one can on a dime, noted!”

Take a Hike in Sphalerite!

Take a Hike in Sphalerite!

We keep mentioning our wonderful districts, so now we’re going to start introducing them. Astranar has eight districts, each with their own individual flare, and they can be quite competitive with each other. In Astranar, the districts are named after gemstones. This week, we’ll be discussing Sphalerite (yes, that’s an actual gemstone), where Water magic is the all-the-rage.

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With gentle hills, some low-level mountains, and deep forests, Sphalerite is on the northwest side of the country, sharing a border with the country of Nospos, and the Morganite, Amethyst, and Ruby districts. The inspiration for this district was the Black Forest of Germany and the surrounding countryside, with a little of the Bavarian Forest. The further north-northwest you get, closer to the Whistleback Mountains, the more the terrain is mountainous like the bits of the Alps that Germany lays claim to. Whereas the further south you go, the countryside is more like hills covered with thick trees, from evergreen pines to oaks and elms. It is also home to the highest number of castles, though many are no longer home to the nobility.

In addition to the plethora of castles, Sphalerite has a deer sanctuary, home to several species of deer from both Astranar and other countries. It serves as an education platform on environmental stability and invasive species. (Because red deer and sika deer have taken over every area they are in, and let’s not mention Yellowstone Park in America before the wolves were reintroduced…) Because of the plentiful forests, many craftspeople come to take part in the forestry industry that the local lords are very careful not to take too much of the trees at any one time. Speaking of nobility, the local higher ranked baron and duke are a bit…stuck in the past. Unfortunately, they are being dragged into the future kicking and screaming. The fashion of the district reflects its ties to the past, with a retro flare from the 1950’s.

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Once again, I’ll get to what you actually want to know about. With the flourishing forestry industry, the extra horses available in Sphalerite are heavier, with strength for pulling, though these breeds are also featured in show jumping, the district specialty. If you are coming in from a different racing district and would rather buy a new horse than try and adjust any of your current horses to show jumping, American Cream Draft, the Black Forest Horse, and Vanner horse breeders sell some of their stock to players. While you will get credits for a draft horse through the course of the game, Sphalerite is not the district with that quest. Once you have one in your stable, however, special quests unlock.

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Water magic resonates with Re on the solfege scale. If Earth is the base, than Water is the flow that pushes and pulls you where you need to go in its own time. Those who are in touch with Water are also in touch with their dreams and their feelings, sometimes coming off as a little moody, but a devoted friend regardless. They don’t see problems, due to them having no concept of boundaries, and can go anywhere in anyway to meet their goals. On the small scale, Water magic can summon water, or raise or lower the water level of a pond or stream. On the large scale, it is cleansing and healing magic, with regeneration possible, as well as a bit of scrying through the reflective surfaces of still pools. If you don’t keep a handle on it, however, it can cause avalanches, floods, and overall bad weather news that will ruin that picnic plan with your riding club!

If you following Ginny’s twitter blog, you’ll know that all of the districts, including Sphalerite, have their own little specialties and symbols. I won’t bore you with all of them, and I want you to get to enjoy finding them out on your own! (The name is one giant clue to one of them, fyi.) I will mention that the Sphalerite mentors depend on which side you choose. If you go with the Light, you will look to Kitty Sweetsong (profile pending), and if you go with the Shadow, you have options: Vanessa Ribbonmelody (profile pending) and Veronica Highflute (profile pending).

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