Don Horse

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Don Horse


a saddle and coach breed of horses, long raised by the Don Cossacks in the steppe regions of the Don River and its tributaries. The breed was first developed by crossbreeding the local southern Russian steppe horses with the Persian, Karabakh, Arabian, and Turkmen horses that the Cossacks brought back from their campaigns. Later the Don horses were crossed with stallions of Russian saddle breeds (Orlov, Orlov-Rostopchin, and Strelets) and English Thoroughbreds.

Contemporary Don horses are tall and massive. The average measurements of a purebred stallion are height at the withers, 159 cm; oblique body length, 160 cm; girth of the chest, 185 cm; and girth of the front cannon bone, 21 cm. The same measurements of the mare are, respectively, 156.4, 160, 187, and 19.7 cm. The coat is predominantly rust colored, often with a gold cast. Don horses have great endurance, do well on coarse food, and are adapted to herd maintenance in severe climatic conditions. They are used with saddle (for travel or racing) or harness (for transport work). The Don horse’s best speeds at horse races have been 1,200 m, 1 min 19 sec; 1,800 m, 1 min 58.8 sec; 2,000 m, 2 min 15.5 sec; and 3,000 m, 3 min 28 sec. The best long run has been 200 km in 16 hours, and the best draft force demonstrated in trials has been 4.6 kilonewtons (460 kilograms-force).

The Don horse is bred mainly in Rostov Oblast and Stavropol’ Krai. In addition, the breed is used to improve local horses in such regions of herd horse-breeding as the Northern Caucasus, Lower Volga Region, Kazakh SSR, and Kirghiz SSR. The following stud farms breed the Don horse: S. M. Budennyi Stud Farm No. 158, Zimovniki No. 163 (Rostov Oblast), Lugovoe (Dzhambul Oblast, Kazakh SSR), and Stud Farm No. 54 (Kirghiz SSR).


Kashtanov, L. V. Donskaia loshad’. Rostov-on-Don, 1939.
Kashtanov, L. V. “Sovremennoe sostoianie donskoi porody loshadei i napravlenie plemennoi raboty s nei.” Tr. Vsesoiuznogo nauchno-issledoVatel’skogo in-ta konevodstva, 1958, vol. 22, book 2.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
The Don horse he was riding was one he had bought from a Cossack during the campaign, and he wore a crumpled hussar cap stuck jauntily back on one side of his head.