Last Updated: April 9, 2021
Russia takes up a very large geographical area, much of which is native territory for horses. For this reason, there are many different Russian horse breeds out there. In fact, Russia is home to the most horse breeds out of any other country.
Some of these horses have gone extinct over the years, but dozens of them are still alive today. Some are famous, like the Akhal-Teke, but others are more unknown, like the Altai. In this article, we’ll look at eight horse breeds that hail from Mother Russia.
The Akhal-Teke is a breed that is famous for its endurance and speed. They have a distinguishing metallic sheen, which sets them apart from other horses. Their shiny coat has led to their nickname – the “Golden Horses.” They are thought to be one of the oldest horse breeds still around today.
Currently, about 6,600 of these horses still exist. Many of these are in Russia, where they are from natively. However, some can also be found in Europe and North America.
Because they live naturally in a desert, these horses have adapted to severe climate conditions. They can go a long way without water or food, which is likely why they have survived as long as they have.
This horse breed is native to the Altai Mountains, which are in Central Asia. They have a relatively short neck with a strong back. Usually, they stand around 13.2 hands high, with coat colors of everything from chestnut to black to gray. Sometimes, they even have leopard spotting.
Because these breeds are so sturdy and healthy, they are often used to improve other breeds. They are easy to manage and rarely have anything wrong with them.
This breed evolved in a harsh climate. They were bred to meet the needs of the people who lived in the mountains, which lead to their sure-footed nature and strong cardiovascular system. They are definitely a horse that most people can get behind.
This is a newer horse breed that was produced by crossing a Kabarda with a Thoroughbred. This horse breed has between 25% and 75% Thoroughbred genetics, though this varies from horse to horse. There are also several types of these horses, depending on the amount of genetics from each breed.
The three main types are “basic”, “oriental”, and “massive”. The type names aren’t actually very representative of what the horse is for. The basic type is considered to be medium-sized and very well-muscled; they’re good all-around horses.
The oriental type is smaller and doesn’t weigh as much. Their heads are smaller as well, but they are well-known for their proportionally large eyes. The massive type is larger, as you might expect from the name. They’re often used as carriage horses.
The Kabarda is a horse breed that is from the Caucasus region in Russia. This is a native breed and has been around for at least the last 400 years, though its bloodline likely stretches back much further than that.
The Hittite civilization likely utilized this horse breed and led to it becoming so prominent today. They were bred for purely practical reasons, which left them with lots of endurance and adaptability today.
This horse typically stands around 14.5 hands high, though they can be a bit smaller and a bit larger. Their coat is either bay, black, or gray. They are well-muscled and built to work. Their blood is highly oxidizing, making them perfect for work in the mountains.
The Kabarda is known for being easy to take care of. They accumulate fat easily and are not sensitive to weather conditions. In fact, many are exposed to extreme weather regularly in their native climate. They were bred for mountainous terrain, so they have very sure-footing. They are usually quite fast with high endurance.
The Bashkir is named after the Bashkir people. This beautiful breed originated from Bashkortostan, a republic in the Russian Federation. They are a smaller horse that stands at only about 14 hands high. They are quite wide, though, with a very deep chest. Their head is rather large, while their neck is short. They are very stout horses.
They are well-known for the exceptionally thick coat, which is often so thick that it is curly.
There are two main types of this breed, though they are not specifically named. One is smaller and used for riding, while the other is somewhere heavier and from the steppes. Both types are extremely hardy and built for the harsh climate they were raised in.
These horses are used for just about everything. They make great riding horses, but they can also be used for pack, harness, and farm work. They can draw sleights dozens and dozens of miles each day. The mares produce a lot of milk, which some of the native tribes breed the horses for. Their hair can even be combed and then woven into cloth.
6. Budyonny Horse
This horse has a unique history. They were bred for use as military horses after the Russian Revolution. Today, they are used mostly as competition horses, though they are occasionally used for driving as well. Both mares and stallions stand at about 16 hands high. Their coat is almost always chestnut, though black, bay, and gray are common as well.
This breed is fast, agile, and has high endurance. They are great warhorses for this reason. However, they are used mostly for competition purposes today. They often compete in dressage, three-day eventing, and endurance. They are sometimes also used as light carriage horses.
This breed is a light riding horse. They are said to be an ancient breed from Russian lands, but they did undergo some selective breeding in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. They come in grey coat colors for the most part, but other darker colors are possible as well.
This breed has been crossbred with other breeds significantly. This is especially true in the 1930s and 1940s, where they were bred with the general horse population under the Soviet regime. Much of the crossbreeding stopped in the 1950s, but breeding with Arab and Tersk stallions continued.
8. Russian Don
The Russian Don was developed on the steppes near the Don River in Russia, hence its name. It was originally bred as a cavalry horse, though it is used larger for saddle work and driving today. They usually stand at around 15 hands and come in bay, black, gray, or chestnut.
This horse has been in decline for quite a while. They had their peak as cavalry horses in the Cossack cavalry. They are well-regarded for their endurance and stamina, which allowed them to last for quite a while in battle. However, they are largely used as saddle horses today.
This horse has been used to develop other horses, such as the Budyonny.
Featured Image: Ksenia Soboleva, Shutterstock
Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!