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Horse Breeds
First Posted: July 25, 2009
Sep 29, 2010

Ukranian Riding or Orlov-Rostopchin Horse

Ukranian Riding or Saddle Horse

Image - Khartsyzsk Hippodrome
Refined Warmblood

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Country of Origin: Ukraine


The Ukrainian Riding Horse, a breed developed in Ukraine after World War II to meet the ever-increasing demand for sport horses, was first bred at the Dnepropetrovsk stud. Today, it is bred at the studs of Derkulsk, Yagonitsk, and Aleksandriisk. The breed is well-established in characteristics despite the fact that it is relatively young, due to the highly selective breeding process.

The breed was developed from Trakehner, Hanoverian, and English Thoroughbred blood added to local mare stock, or with Furioso and Gidran mares from Hungary. The progeny were interbred and established the Ukrainian Riding Horse type. Those horses too fine in type were crossed with Hanoverians, those too heavy were crossed with Thoroughbreds. These two breeds- Hanoverian and Thoroughbred - are the only two that have been used to upgrade or improve the Riding Horse stock since the original type was formed.

Breeders who laid the foundation for the Ukrainian Riding Horse concentrated on using stock of Russian Saddle Horses. Today, the Bespechney line still contains the Russian Saddle Horse blood. The horses are kept in a regulated environment. They begin training just before age two, and are required to participate in a performance testing as two and three-year-olds, which includes racing on the track, jumping, and dressage. Only the best are allowed to stand at stud. The popularity of horses grew after the XIXth Olympic games (1968) in Mexico.

Physical Description and Characteristics

The Ukranian Riding Horse has an attractive, well proportioned head, expressive eyes, muscular long neck with a long poll, a prominent withers, sloping shoulders with wonderful freedom of movement, deep chest, with a back that tends to be long and hollow. The loin is broad and deep, the body heavy, the limbs well set, the build solid. The croup is long and sloping. They are highly intelligent and trainable. Colors include bay, chestnut, brown and black. The modern-day Orlov-Rostopchin stands, on the average, at 16 to 16.1 hands high, with individual variations from 15.1 to 17.1.

Interesting Notes

"At present the population of the Orlov-Rostopchin is approximately 500 head. Many of the young horses are at preliminary Russian dressage levels. The main breeding herd and young trainees are kept at Starozhilovsky. Unfortunately, their future is in the hands of the unstable government and the limited funding received by the Russian Equestrian Federation. The dissolution of the USSR has proved a mixed blessing to the fortunes of the breed. On one hand, it has provided connoisseurs across the globe access to this refined mount for the first time in nearly a century (though import is not easily negotiated and remains bogged by paperwork). On the other hand, the accompanying financial collapse was disastrous to the state-funded stud farms as well as to the national equestrian program which was successfully utilizing the breed in international competitions including the Olympics, World Championships and European Games. As a result some of Russia's best stock is now being sold to competitors indifferent to the continuation and development of the bloodlines while the financially strapped stud farms struggle to continue with blood stock remaining after necessary sales." (Kentucky Horse Park/Page no longer found)


The horses are quality, very suited to competitive riding, and excel in show jumping, dressage and even ting. They are also raced. Initially they were bred for harness horses. Now they are mainly sport horses and used for classical equestrian activities.

For More Information:

Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock

Horse Breeds