Russian Steppe Horse Breed
Steppe horses belong to a group of Mongolian horses descending from Przevalski’s horse and have many varieties, All of them, however, represent that same type of small horse (13 to 14 hands) with a very strong constitution and a rather heavy, ugly head on a ewe neck. Their legs are very short, but strong and muscular, with small, hard hooves, while their thin coats are covered with very rich, coarse hair protecting them from the severity of the Russian climate.
They are very hard and resist all kinds of privation, which is the natural result of being bred in the steppes and having to find under the snow only grass or moss to live on. They have great speed and stamina and are great weight carriers. A common sight was to see a 15-stone Cossack galloping on a 13 hands pony. One remarkable achievement was the ride of Cossack D. Pieszkow, who covered nearly 6,000 miles in six months’ riding on a steppe horse.
In modern times steppe horses have served as saddle horse for many Mongolian tribes of Russia or as an agricultural horse for peasants. Later, to increase their size, steppe horses of Russia were crossed with English Thoroughbreds giving in the result an animal from 14.1 to 14.3 hands. They are bred on natural pastures.
Tersky Horse Breed
These horses are bred and developed in the Stavropol region (North Caucasus) of Russia as the result of crossing Russian Arab stallions (Strelets) with pure-bred Arabian and Kabarda mares. Tersky horses are good-natured, agile, good movers, and are capable of considerable endurance.
As can be readily assumed from its breeding, the Tersky horse shows many characteristics of the Arab horse background, which is evidenced by its shoulder, rather flat wither, very short back, and generous flat croup. With its overall quality, it is a true saddle-horse, averaging about 15 hands in height.
Russian Thoroughbred Horse Breed
Many countries throughout the world have bred and adopted as their own the Thoroughbred horse, and such is its fame as a racehorse and usually so perfect its conformation that it is generally claimed as an established breed in those countries.
Thus we have the Russian Thoroughbred which has been developed over a period as long as 200 years. The 20th century saw the introduction of such famous Thoroughbred horses as ‘Galtee More’, which won St. Leger, the Derby winners ‘Minoru’ and ‘Aboyeur’, the winner of the French Derby, ‘Palmiste’, and the Grand Prix winner, ‘Quo Vadia’, and a number of others.
For a description of the horse, reference should be made to the English Thoroughbred. Those horses bred in Russia can be expected to stand over 16 hands.
Beetwk Horse Breed
Amongst several foreign breeds of heavy draught horses introduced into Russia, such as Brabancon, Ardennes, Vladimir, and Clydesdale, which are of complex hybrid origin and to the formation of which Clydesdales, Dutch, Danish Suffolk, and other “cold-blood” breeds have contributed, there is a Russian original heavy-draught breed known as the Beetwk. Its name is derived from the Beetwk River (Veronej Province), on the banks of which the breed was founded.
Local mares, being of quite good quality, attracted the attention of Peter the Great at the beginning of the 18th century, and he was responsible for breeding these mares to imported Dutch stallions, while the results of those matings were crossed with Orlov Trotters, hence the great ability in some of them for trotting which makes them also good coaching horses.
Although the breed diminished in size when the rich pastures of their breeding region were turned into arable land, they still stand over 16 hands and are strong enough to pull over three tons. Their strength, endurance, good action, and spirits, combined with great obedience and docility, make them very valuable agricultural horses, and no foreign breed of heavy type can compete against them under Russian conditions.
Strelets Horse Breed
The study of the breeds of Russian horses compared with those of most continental countries, particularly Germany and Austria, emphasizes the fact that so many breeds of these owe their existence, and certainly their development, to the individual effort. Many well-known breeds have been ‘made’ at certain large studs and indeed have taken the name of the stud as their breed name. Examples of this can be found of course in other parts of the world. In Britain, however, the naming of breeds is entirely territorial, if we except the Percheron, which, though firmly established here, is of French breeding. The Russian Strelets is an instance of stud naming.
This horse is numbered among the more aristocratic of the Russian breeds of horses and might fairly be called with truth the Russian Arab. The source from which this good breed was built was in native mares from the mountainous regions of Ukraine; these were the foundation stock of the stud, and the selected of them were then crossed with Anglo-Arab, Turkish, Persian, or pure Arab sires. The progeny of these – the Strelets – are now breeding true to type. This breed can be described as a large Arab, with all the excellent attributes of that ancient race, and is unaffected apparently in spite of being bred for greater size. It is much admired as a supreme riding horse and is particularly valuable for cavalry needs.
Iomud Horse Breed
Russia has a number of different breeds and types of horses and ponies, at least fourteen, which is not surprising considering its vast territory. Nonetheless, we find at times one breed intermingling with another, or some which are produced by tribal selection, such as the Iomud.
Owing to its remoteness, and contrary to what we find so frequently in almost every horse breeding country throughout the world, the admixture of thoroughbred blood is little found in Russia. Naturally, it is only when we find a horse having rather more quality that thoroughbred or more likely Arab blood is found, as in Strelets.
The Iomud horses are descended from the same ancient taproot as the Akhal-Teke breed but have been evolved by another Turkoman tribe, the ‘Iomud’. They differ from the Akhal-Teke in being smaller, not so fast, and they are much fiercer and highly-strung. They are run in troops on the plains of Northern Turkmeina, and have great powers of endurance, being able to withstand extremes of temperature ranging from fierce summer heat to the rigors of the severest winters. The Akhal-Teke has been used with success on some Iomud horses which were not up to the high standards desired, and this with excellent results, and it is recorded that both breeds compete together in races and endurance tests.
Viatka Horse Breed
Of Klepper descent, these ponies are now regarded as a Russian breed. State pedigree studs maintain the breed’s purity. They belong to the group known as the plateau or Celtic type, all of which are exceptionally hardy. They range from between 13 and 14 hands and are shades of bay, grey, roan, or mousy dun. Somewhat long in the back, they possess strong short legs, deep chests, well-sprung ribs; and their small heads, usually with a concave profile, are pleasantly ‘breedy’, although the lower jaw is often massive. Some have great speed. In winter they develop an immense coat and a subcutaneous layer of fat as protection against the extreme cold. Varieties, named after their local provinces, are Obvinkas and Kazxankas, around 13 hands.
Orlov Horse Breed
The originator of this famous breed of Russian trotters was Count Alexius Grigorievich Orlov, a Russian nobleman who was born in 1737 and died in 1808. He was renowned for his great strength and dexterity and was a man of many interests besides the horse. He was concerned with his brother Gregory in the conspiracy of 1763, which led to the deposition and death of Tsar Peter III and was said to have been his actual murderer. He also commended the Russian fleet that annihilated the Turks at Chesme in 1770. When he died he left 30,000 serfs and an estate worth five million roubles.
After his more violent activities he appears to have turned his attention to horse breeding, and in 1777 evolved the breed which forever after was to be known by his name when his other exploits were forgotten. He produced the Orlov Horse by crossing the following blood: English, Thoroughbred, Arab, Dutch, Danish, and Mecklenburg. The first stallion was an Arab, called ‘Smetanka’, which was put to a Dutch mare from whom was bred a stallion called ‘Polkan’. The first trotter out of the latter’s progeny was a stallion out of a black Dutch mare which was named ‘Bars First’. This horse is considered to be the head of the Orlov breed. There were further admixtures of Dutch, English, and Arab blood.
Trotting has always been a popular sport in Russia, and in pre-Revolution Russia, the Orlov breed was developed for the purpose. As it is known now, the breed has two definite lines, a heavy type, which is predominantly black, and a lighter type, with more pronounced Arab features, which is usually grey. The latter has been more successful on the racetrack and leads in speed records. So far as is known at present, the fastest mile in Russia has been trotted in 2 minutes 6 seconds, which is still a good way behind the American record of 1 minute 55 seconds.
A good Orlov is very handsome, with a small head, very Arabian in appearance, broad chest, longish back, good well-rounded quarters, and strong muscular legs. The height goes up to 17 hands.
At the beginning of the century the type was becoming a little degenerate, longer in the body and legs, and with decreasing stamina. New colors, dark brown and dark chestnut, also made their appearance. During the Revolution, the proletarian zeal of the Bolsheviks extended to Thoroughbred horses as well as to human aristocracy, and many were destroyed. Common sense and sporting instinct, however, seem to have prevailed in time, and the breed was saved and is still carried on together with the sport of trotting racing. The Tsarist State acquired Count Orlov’s stud, and under the name of the Khrenovsky Stud was the central breeding place of the Orlov horse. Before the Revolution, there were about 3,000 stud farms in Russia devoted to the breeding of these Orlov Trotters.
This breed is another instance of the Arabian Horse Foundation, and it is characteristic of that blood and a mark of its prepotency that the Orlov head still bears the Arab stamp.
The Orlov achieved its greatest fame as a trotter and in the latter half of the last century was looked upon as the supreme horse for that work. With the strong commercial development of the trotting horse for the racetrack, mostly in America, by the most careful selection and scientific breeding and feeding, the Orlov could not now compete on equal terms. This is a case of scientific development producing excessive speed to the exclusion of all else and has its counterpart in the Thoroughbred ousting the Arab from the racecourse and polo ground to the loss, as many believe, of soundness and stamina. Reference has been made to the 3,000 stud farms in Russia devoted to the breeding of this horse – an almost unbelievable number, by the way – but it is difficult to say how many of these still exist today. The least that can be hoped is that this world-famous breed still flourishes.
Russian horse breed is one of the best breed. See here their personalities and characteristics.