have been known in Russia since times out of mind. Russian chronicles of the 12th century
talk about some wonderhorses called far', which was corrupted Arabian
faras, the horse. Those rare specimens were extremely valued and treasured in Russia.
But unfortunately they were too few to have produced a noticeable imprint on Russian
breeding in those days.
Later on Oriental horses with Arabian and Turkish blood came to be
known in Russia as argamaks. They were used, although quite disorderly, to produce
light horses for the Royalty and cavalry.
At the Royal Stables of Ivan the Terrible (153084) there were
many argamaks and pureblood Arabians. Early in the 18th century Russian studs used about
100 Arabian sires.
Alexey Orlov, a brilliant
courtier at the court of Katherine II and the defeater of the Turkish fleet at Chesme,
went down in Russian equine history for his famous Orlov trotters and Orlov mounts, the
latter are more known under the name of OrlovRostopchins. In creating those breeds he
drew heavily on Arabian blood.
In the latter half of the 18th century, in the era of
RussoTurkish wars, Orlov brought to Russia a large number of Arabians. He received more
than 30 stallions and many mares as gifts from Turkish dignitaries and from the Sultan
himself. Alibei and Orlov Arabian were sent to England to be used as sires, 18 horses were
given to Empress Katherine II, and 12 stallions and 9 mares were used at Orlov's stud
Orlov also bought Smetanka,
an Arabian stallion of outstanding distinction. He paid for Smetanka a staggering price of
60,000 roubles. To get an indication of the sum, in 1774 the budget of the Russian State
Horse Breeding Department was 25,000 roubles, and seven state studs sold horses for 5,609
Smetanka was a silvery gray, 153.4 cm. He was noted for
type, dryness of constitution and elongated body (his autopsy revealed 19 spinal vertebrae
and an extra pair of ribs). He was used by Orlov during one season only and fell in 1777
to leave his sons Polkan I, Felkerzam I, Bovka, Lyubimets, and a daughter Smetanka.
Another stallion of excellence, the brown Sultan I, was brought to
Russia in 1775 and, like Smetanka, fell after the first breeding season, having produced
three sons and a daughter.
Despite their very short breeding careers, Smetanka and
Sultan I were of phenomenal influence in Russian horsebreeding and became the founders of
the Orlov trotters and Orlov mounts (OrlovRostopchins).
At Orlov's Khrenovoye stud the progeny of Sultan I, Smetanka and other prominent
Arabians were widely used in a variety of crossings.
In 1802 Count Rostopchin bought in Arabia the stallions
Rishan, Kaimak, and Kadi and used them on Thoroughbred, Persian, Karabakh, and Don mares
to create the horse that came to be known as the Rostopchin.
In 1842 Orlov's and Rostopchin's studs were bought by
the Crown and merged to give rise to the OrlovRostopchin horse.
In the 1840s 44 Russian studs were breeding pureblood
Arabians or using them in crossings with other breeds. In 1862 and 1866 more Arabian
stallions and mares were brought to Russia from the Arab countries.
Early in the 20th century the standards of Arabian breeding
in Russia were very high. Russian Arabians were exported to many countries. Especially
noteworthy among them were Burgas, Pritsel, Obejan Serebrni. Wan Dyck, Ursus, and Gazella
The beginnings of Tersk
At the turn of the century
Count Stroganov & Prince Sherbatov undertook several voyages to Arabia and Syria. They
brought to Russia many valuable Arabian horses. Sherbatov founded a stud to produce
halfbred horses for cavalry. The stud was quite successful and Sherbatov's horses were
winning awards at exhibitions.
Stroganov founded on 21 June 1889 a stud in Northern
Caucasus that is currently known as Tersk. The stud began to produce pureblood Arabians,
and ArabianKabardin crosses. And for more than a century to date that stud is home of
what is known as the Russian Arabian.
More important perhaps are the contributions of the two
friends to the understanding in Russia of the importance of Arabians for Russian breeding
and a new approach to their breeding.
In 1901 on their suggestion and with their contributions the
Stud Book of Arabian Horses in Russia with Pedigrees was published in
Stroganov and Sherbatov could rightly be called fathers of
the Russian Arabian.
New foundation stock
In the turmoil of the
Civil War of 191720 the Tersk stud lost its stock, and so when on 11 February 1921 the
stud was restored, it was necessary to start from scratch.(Foundation Stock)
In 1930 the gray Koheilan IV was bought in Hungary, and from
France came six pureblood Arabian mares and a stallion. In 1939 from England came 6
Arabian stallions and 19 mares.
In 1939 a large group of Arabians arrived from Poland, and 9
more Arabian mares from Germany were added to the Tersk stock in 1947.
The modern Russian Arabian breeding program was thus begun
in 1930 at Tersk. Ever since the stud has accumulated much experience and produced dozens
of superb individuals.
In March 1976 a WAHO commission visited Tersk. It confirmed
the high quality of the stock there and recognized the pureblood origins of all the
horses except for Amara and Basma imported from Egypt in 1973.
In 1986 some stock was transferred to Khrenovoe, the stud
founded by Count Orlov. The Arabian department at Khrenovoe is quite successful. The
Khrenovoe horses compete with the Tersk Arabians on the track.
New times in Russia
After Perestroika some
topflight Russian horsebreeders fascinated with that equine race founded several private
Arabian studs. These studs are more flexible and entrepreneurial than Sovietstyle farms,
they are open to cooperation and joint projects. One example is Oros.
But after the demise of the USSR all exSoviet republics
found themselves in a crisis. The political and economic position of Russia have been
weakened in many spheres, including the horse industry.
It is going to take some time for Russian civil servants to
understand their new role in a market economy; Russian breeders will have to master
elements of that market economy, and so forth.
Unfortunately, this temporary setback is being taken
advantage of by some "wellwishers" who are using every trick in their vet and other
bags to stop Russian Arabians from competing in international markets. Their intentions
are all too apparent. They have nothing to do with fair play.
Russian horsemen have been hardened by the many upheavals,
and now they respond with a measure of philosophic stoicism to ridiculous hurdles being
put out from time to time by those "well wishers".
the 16th century hunting
Horse Breeding Museum