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August 23, 2008 | | Comments 0

Soviet Heavy Draft Horse

The Soviet Heavy Draft: The Fast Workhorses of Russia

The draft horse is a horse type that generally has an uncomplicated history regardless of horse breed. This is mainly because breeders establish early on the desired characteristics in draft horses and then pick the right breed pairs to come up with the ideal horse. When less than ideal traits are found in the offspring, other breed pairings are explored. Draft horses are also largely uncomplicated because they have one main purpose. They are needed for agricultural or hauling work.

The Soviet Heavy Draft shares the same historical breeding pattern as all other European draft horses. These horses were bred in the late 1800s until the early 1900s. The breed continued to flourish in former Soviet regions until a little after the first half of the 1900s. A breeding program began for this breed because local breeders and farmers realized the need for greater agricultural productivity. They therefore needed a horse that could work hard and quickly under heavy loads. The Soviet Heavy Draft answered all these requirements.

The horse breed is not of pure native origin. As is the case with many Russian horse breeds, this one was created out of the pairing of various European breeds. The major stallions used were said to have been Belgian in origin. The mares had become native stock through time but actually carried foreign breed blood as well notably from the Percheron and Danish horse breeds. After countless sessions of interbreeding, the desired traits were achieved and inbreeding began to preserve the draft breed’s unique traits.

There were numerous breeding and stud regions dedicated to the breed. The major state breeding grounds included Mordovian, Pochinkovsk and Gavrilovo-Posad. Despite having been a popular work breed for decades, the Soviet Heavy Draft was only officially recognized as a breed in the 1950s.

Unlike some European draft breeds, the Soviet Heavy Draft is clearly not on the gigantic side. They only stand at a little over 15 hands which is a small size compared to other draft breeds that tower over 17 hands. Even so, the body of the Soviet Heavy Draft is clearly made for hard labor. They have short necks, expansive backs, deep chests, stocky legs and a generally muscled profile. They have straight shoulders which are ideal for bearing the harness. Soviet Heavy Draft horses are especially desirable because they tend to live long. They also mature at an early stage in their life which means they become useful early on.

As draft horses, they share a common ideal temperament with other draft breeds. The Soviet Heavy Draft should ideally be gentle, willing and easy to handle.

With the advent of mechanized farming and modern technology, it is not clear whether these horses, like other draft breeds, still have a place in modern society.

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