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Orlov horse: origins, characteristics and attitudes

Orlov horse: origins, characteristics and attitudes


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Typical of Russia the Orlov horse it is an animal full of charm, with its physique and its bearing it has won many hearts even if it is really difficult to meet specimens outside the borders of its native country.

Orlov horse: origins

It is not easy to investigate the origins of this breed whose history is intertwined with that of the area where it was born. The Orlov was developed from count Alexis Grigorievitch Orlov whose name has remained. We are around 1780 when this Russian nobleman begins to make some "experiments" by crossing the white Arabian stallion Smetanka, received by the Sultan of Turkey, with the best mares. Danes, Dutch, Mecklenburg and Arabs of his kennel in Orlov, a town near Moscow.

After a few years of attempts, in 1788 the count moves to his new kennel in Khrenov, in the province of Voronež, where he continues to evolve the breed thanks to the help of his expert director, V.I. Shishkin. Crossing after crossing, the two began to understand that the more performing, athletic and resistant specimens were those obtained by crossing the Arabs with the Danish and Dutch mares and this combination is the origin of the stallion to which we owe the birth of the Orlov breed, the gray Bars I.

This horse that has earned a name in the history of Orlov is the grandson of Smetanka and son of Polkan I when he was mated with the Hartsdraver Danish mare appreciated and chosen because of her very robust shins and the harmonious and resistant physical structure that allowed her to move with great freedom and energy. It is from these two horses that Bars I was born which was then mated with mares of breeds from which he himself descended: Arabs, Dutch and Danes and crosses between Arabs and Mecklenburg. All the purebred Orlov specimens still show a strong connection with Bars today.

Characteristics of the Orlov Horse: height and weight

High approx 160-165cm and with a weight that tends to exceed 550 kg, this horse is not physically perfect but no less appreciated. She has a very proportionate physique despite her size. Its head is small and with simple shapes, almost rough, and it can also happen that the limbs are too long and the girth width too low. Between most common defects the breed also has weak tendons, a problem that it inherits from the Dutch mares from which it derives.

Depending on the breeding from which a horse of this breed comes, some characteristics of the Orlov and its degree of adherence to the breed standard. The best and most distinctive are said to come from Khrenov and compared with others who come for example from Perm, in the Urals, they immediately stand out for their beauty but also for their strength and agility. Then there are some specimens that have a physique more suited to agricultural work and are usually those that come from Tula and Dubrov and are included in the process of improving the breeds with excellent results.

Trials and experiments are still carried out to try to further improve some characteristics of this breed that can do more according to experts, for example by increasing its speed but also by becoming taller and adopting a more elegant bearing. Relative commitment is put into the process of improving this breed because the Orlov is then often used for perfect other breeds as, for example, happened in the case of the Don and the Tersk, the Russian Trotter and other heavy breeds always linked to Russia.

Orlov horse: attitudes

It has a good attitude to trot this horse even if it cannot hold its own against some American breeds that excel in this discipline. In the past, many tests and numerous breeding have been done to make it competitive and progress has been seen, too bad it wasn't enough. However, all these efforts were not useless because they served to give birth to the fastest Russian trotter, from the cross between American Trotters and Orlov.

It is precisely for this reason that between 1890 and 1917 156 stallions and 220 American trotter mares were imported into Russia, a phenomenon that was interrupted due to WWI. However, several hybrids came out that were mated more and more with the horses used previously. The frequent use of the cross between the American trotter and the Orlov in the 1930s led to recognition of the Russian trotter as a breed but the Orlov nevertheless remained a breed in its own right and highly esteemed.

Orlov in Italy

It is almost impossible to find a kennel entirely dedicated to this breed on the Italian territory as Orlov specimens are scarce in Russia. Today in countries of the former USSR there are about 30,000 copies but in pre-revolutionary Russia it was raised on 3,000 farms.

You may also be interested in our article on Vladimir, a racehorse breed



Video: Topspeed Friesians Kaspar v. Topspeed perry Orlov Trotter x Lutte (May 2022).