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Horse Breeds
First Posted: July 20, 2009
Sep 26, 2010

Soviet Heavy Draft Horse

Soviet Heavy Draft Horse

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Country of Origin: Soviet Union (Russia)


The Soviet Heavy Draft is a breed of draft horse, originating in Russia at the end of the 19th century. The modern breed became established by the 1940's. The need for a strong but relatively fast draft horse breed was recognized in Russia during the latter part of the 19th century. An extensive breeding zone, encompassing Yaroslavl, Vladimir, Gorki, Penza, Ryazan, Tula, Tambov, Voronezh and Oryol regions and Mordovia, and breeding success was ensured through a stable supply of fodder. The initial breeding took place at the Khrenov stud, and from there expanded to the Pochinkozsk stud.

The breed was created by crossing native mares with imported Belgian stallions. The native mares were a mix of Percheron, Ardennes, Suffolk Punch, Danish and various saddle horse breeds.

By 1936, during the Soviet era, three state breeding centres were established: Pochinkovsk, Mordovian and Gavrilovo-Posad. Alexandroz farm in the Vladimir region and Yaroslavl farm branched off from Gavrilovo-Posad. Later, the Pochinkovsk and the Mordovian facilities were transformed into studs.

The breed was named and officially recognized as a heavy draft breed in 1952. The same breeding techniques were used by the USSR to create the Estonian Draft and Lithuanian Heavy Draft breeds. Soviet Heavy Drafts are now the most common draft horse used in the nations that make up the former Soviet Union, and they are frequently used in the improvement of other heavy breeds, both on state-run farms and in kol-khozes (agricultural cooperatives).

Breed Characteristics

The selective breeding that created the Soviet Heavy Draft resulted in a massively-built horse with free-moving gaits. The breed generally stands around 15.1 hands high, and weighs 1,430 to 1,720 lb. They may be chestnut, bay, or roan. The breed has a well-proportioned head with a straight or convex profile, although with a pronounced jaw. The neck is usually short and muscular, the chest wide and deep, the shoulders straight and powerful, the back wide and strong, the croup muscular and sloping, and a rounded abdomen. Their legs are short and sturdy with solid joints and hooves that are broad and rounded. They are prone to pigeon toes in their front legs and sickle hocks in the rear. The breed tends to mature quickly, but is also less resistant to disease than some other heavy breeds.

For More Information:

Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock
Simon & Schuster's Guide to Horses & Ponies of the World By Maurizio Bongianni
Horseman Magazine - Soviet Heavy Draft Horse

Horse Breeds