Ride Around the World Horse: The Orlov Trotter of Russia

In the spirit of this year's Ridefest theme, "Ride Around the World," we're going to explore a horse breed from across the world each week. 

The Orlov Trotter


Environment: Taiga
Origin: 18th century
Blood: Warm
Colors: Gary, Black, Bay
Uses: Harness

Before the Revolution, horse breeding in Russia depending on the land owning aristocracy. The notable breeder, Count Alexei Orlov, created the Orlov Trotter at his Khrenov Stud. The Orlov was intended to race, but was also bred as a carriage horse and as an improver of agricultural stock.


Breeding: Orlov began his breeding program in 1778. He used a white Arabian, Smetanka, with a variety of mares. Polkan I, a direct descendant of Smetanka, and out of a Danish mare, was sire of the breed's foundation stallion, Bars I (1784). Bars I, out of a Dutch mare, was mated with Arabian, Dutch, Danish, and English halfbreeds. The required type was obtained by inbreeding to the foundation horse. Systematic performance testing and racing were used to improve the breed. Orlovs were sometimes crossed with Standardsbreds to produce Russian Trotters, which were faster but less useful.

Characteristics: The Orlov is a tall, lightly built horse. It is powerfully muscled and has good general proporations. 


Edwards, Elwyn Hartley; Langrish, Bob (PHT). “Orlov Trotter.” Smithsonian Handbooks Horses, Dk Pub., pp. 182-183.

CJ BankheadRidefest, Event