HORSES OF THE WORLD
Eurasia - Russia
The Don Horse is the oldest continuously bred Russian
riding horse. It was named after the big Don River and originated over 200 years ago in
the steppes of Southern Russia. The breed was made famous by the dashing riding skills of
the Don Cossack's who surprised their enemies by the speed of their movement, springing
from a rest to a full gallop and coming from a gallop to a dead halt, using superb horses.
There was a special relationship between the people whose lives became dependant on
horses who could thrive in the harsh conditions of the arid steppes.
The horses were descendants from stock of mixed blood of the nomadic steppe people,
probably including Magai, Karabakh, Turkmen and Persian- Arabian horses. During the 19th
century Thoroughbred, Orlow and part-bred Arabian blood was added upgrading the Cossack
horses. The Don, traditionally kept in herds on the vast steppes of Russia, developed into
a tough breed able to thrive with little human help.
The Don has various inherited conformation defects which limit the quality of the breed's
paces, but its strong constitution make it suitable for endurance riding. They also go
well in harness.
The All-Russian Institute of Horsebreeding regularly publishes a studbook for the Don with
an annual catalogue that evaluates and ranks eligible breeding stallions.
Head: medium size, well formed head; wide forehead
Neck: average length
Body: strong body; broad, straight back; muscular chest;
straight loins; rounded croup; fairly sloping hindquarters
Legs: straight, strong limbs; well muscled forearms and
second thigh; tendency to calf knees, sickle hocks and upright pasterns
Mane and Tail: short, thin
Color: predominantly chestnut and brown, often with golden
Height: 15.3. to 16.2hh
Temperament: calm, willing
Qualities: tough, great stamina, fast, agile, physical
and mental strength
The Don is bred for pleasure riding, equine tourism and
sport competitions at which it excels. The breed is suitable for endurance riding
and goes well in harness.