The Russian Don horse is also called Don or Donskaya horse. Its country of origin is Russia and the breed is known a very long time ago and since 1549 when it was mentioned and officially recorded for the first time.
Its name comes from the Don River that runs through the steppes areas in Russia. The Don horse is developed from semi-feral Russian horses crossed with Arabian, Akhal-Teke, Karabakh and Thoroughbred horses that were brought to Russia by the Cossacks. Initially, the breed was known as the Old Don and it was a medium-sized horse with great endurance and agility.
These horses were bred to be war mounts that required little care, sparse feeding and they proved their toughness in a tireless fight against Napoleon`s army during the 19th century, carrying Russian warriors from Moscow to the battlefields and all the way back. Selective breeding started around the 1830s and the Old Don horse was influenced by adding Orlov Trotter, Arabian, Karabakh, and Thoroughbred bloodlines, thus created the new Russian Don horse. On the other hand, it also had a great influence and improved many breeds as Orlov, Orlov-Rostopchin and Thoroughbred horse.
As the demand for cavalry horses rose, breeders focused on the Dons giving an ascent to their confirmation, stamina, height and the color, which was very distinctive chestnut with a golden shine. Besides their native country, which was widely adopted, they also gained great popularity and were exported to other countries. The population number has declined during World War I, but lately, their number has increased thanks to the efforts of private breeders that were dedicated to the promoting and preserving the breed.
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