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August 15, 2008 | | Comments 0

Orlov Trotter Horses

Orlov Trotter Horses

Saving the Orlov Trotters

There are a number of horse breeds today that are declining in numbers. One of these horse breeds is the Orlov Trotter. This breed however deserves to be saved not just because of its excellent traits but because it is a valuable part of Russian history.

Orlov Trotter Story

The breeding of the Orlov Trotter began in 1775 in the Khrenovskoy stud farm of Alexei Orlov. There are some dramatic accounts that state that the stud farm breeding program began after Orlov got the idea of breeding excellent Russian horses after assisting Catherine in her coup plot. The stud farm may have been established with the help of a grateful Catherine who eventually became Russia’s ruler.

To produce the desired horse traits, Arabian stock was paired with Danish, English and Mecklenburg horse breeds. It was nearly a full decade after the establishment of the stud farm before the first real Orlov horse was born. It is from this horse, Bars I that true Orlov horses are traced to. Orlov was said to be so strict with his breeding program that horse breed purity of Orlovs were nearly always ensured. The first Orlovs were initially intended for harness racing and riding.

As long as Orlov and his loyal stud hands lived, the Orlov horse quality and lineage was preserved. With the death of Orlov however, and the changing times, the population of Orlov horses became threatened. Other than Orlov, there were few who could match his dedication to the horse breed. His family successors were unable maintain the strict breeding standards of Orlov.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, specific events put the Orlov breed in danger. The first event was the rising popularity of horse racing. The desire to create better and faster horses led to the improved breeding of French Trotters and Standardbreds. These horse breeds were undeniably faster than the Orlov Trotters. The Orlov horses were therefore either set aside in preference for other horses or were bred with other breeds. The dilution of their bloodline has resulted in the creation of the Russian Trotter which is distinct from the Orlov. The second event that threatened the Orlov horses was the Civil War. Many of the horses were killed at this time.

For a long period of time, not much attention was given to the Orlov horse breed. It was only more or less ten years ago in the 1990s that efforts were renewed to breed and preserve the Orlov Trotters.

Orlov Trotter Traits

The Orlov Trotter is a strong but light and elegantly formed horse. Although they can be outraced by Standardbreds, they are still a bit taller. It has a long arched neck, big head, sloping shoulders, muscular body, fine legs and well defined joints. They have a distinctly long back. Most Orlov Trotters are gray but there are also some that are bay or black. Orlov horses are willing horses and respond well to handlers. They are however also strong, brave and enduring. Because of their breeding history, many trotters are now used for driving events.

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