August 15, 2008 | | Comments 0

Russian Heavy Draft Horse

Russian Heavy Draft Horse

Functionality and Economy in the Russian Heavy Draft Horse

Draft horses were indeed a popular horse type in the 1800s and early 1900s. Although mechanization and industrialization were slowly making an appearance, the transition to a new era still required draft horses. These were the work animals that toiled in fields, carried people and pulled loads. Without them, man would not have achieved great productivity in agriculture.

Russian Heavy Draft Horse Breed History

There are numerous draft breeds around the world. Draft horses are typically large and well muscled with some of them reaching as high as 17 to 19 hands. The Russian Heavy Draft however stands out. This is not because it is the largest but because it isn’t very tall. Although it does retain a muscular body, its height is very close to that of a pony’s.

It is highly probably though that the physical attributes of this Russian breed is no accident. The Russian Heavy Draft was purposefully bred to have its unique traits. This was primarily because times were hard. Farmers and households needed horses that could work quickly, pull a lot of weight and keep small enough to cut the cost on horse care. The breed was first developed in 1860 when local stock was infused with Ardennes blood. At first the Ardennes influence was undisputed. Later though, breeders introduced other breeds such as the Orlov Trotter and Percheron into the breeding program. The Russian Heavy Draft was primarily bred in Ukraine and various regions of Russia.

The Russian Heavy Breed was finally introduced to the world in the 1900s. This was even when there was yet no formally organized breeders’ association for the breed. Naturally, many individuals benefited from the functional economy of this small but powerful workhorse. Aside from being diligent workers, the horses could also start working early in their lives and can continue working for many years. The breed is also quite fertile.

Like other draft horses though, this breed was to suffer a drastic reduction in its numbers. It wasn’t just the farming mechanization that rendered them increasingly useless. The Civil War and the Second World War also cut down their numbers and nearly made the Russian Heavy Draft extinct. Fortunately, the genuine dedication of breeders has renewed the interest in this breed. In 1952, the humble workhorse from Russia finally achieved distinct breed status.

Russian Heavy Draft Horse Breed Traits

At 14.2 hands and at a maximum of 700 kg, the Russian Heavy Draft is indeed a bit on the wee side. It has a short neck, short legs, broad chest and a long back. Unlike other draft horses, it may carry some flesh but it is nonetheless a muscular creature. Some present day horses may be lighter and slightly taller than their ancestors. These horses come in chestnut but there are other colors as well. They are generally gentle and manageable but they can also be quite lively.

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