Orlov Trotter

Origin: USSR.

Height: 15.2-17hh; average 15.3hh.

Color: Solid colors. Gray and black are the most usual.

Character: Active, bold, courageous.

Physique: Powerful and thick-set, with generally good conformation.Varies somewhat in type. The head is usually a little heavy, but with an Oriental cast; large eyes, and short ears. Strong, rather upright shoulder, good withers, roomy chest. Girth deep, ribs well-sprung; back long, flat, broad, with strong loins and muscular quarters. Very hard legs with abundant bone.Thick mane and tail, feather on fetlocks (often quite heavy). Strong constitution, fertile and long-lived. Excellent action.

This popular horse, probably the best-known outside Russia of all the Soviet breeds, is the brainchild of Count Alexius Grigorievich Orlov, a man of great military talent and an early revolutionary who may have been the murderer of Czar Peter III. In 1777 Count Orlov crossed his Arab stallion, Smetanka, with a Dutch or Danish mare and got a colt calledPolkan. Bred to a black Dutch mare, Polkan sired a horse called Bars I, who is considered to be the true foundation sire of the Orlov Trotter. Other blood, including Arab, Thoroughbred, Mecklenburg, and Norfolk Trotter, has since been added. The new breed was for many years known as the Russian Trotter.

Trotting is immensely popular in Russia, and a good horse must travel well and adjust easily to the pronounced climatic variations which are to be expected in this huge nation. There are more than 30,000 Orlovs, bred at34 State studs, and though they are not as fast as the American Standard-bred (the Orlov record is a mile in 2.02 minutes) they provide excellent competitive entertainment. They are also used under the saddle in many sports and make good cavalry horses.

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