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Use and characteristics of the Budyonny
The Budyonny breed is also known under other names such as the Budyonovsky and Budjonny. The stallions average 16.1 hands (65 inches/165 cm) and mares 16 hands (64 inches/163 cm) in height. Some members of the breed are chestnut with the beautiful golden sheen that is typical of many Russian and Caucasian breeds. Equestrians who are familiar with Thoroughbreds will recognise the influence of this breed when they buy a Budyonny. The focus in recent years has been on producing deep-chested competition horses with good bone and joints. Most of the breeders who sell a Budyonny today are in Russia, Ukraine, and the Kazakh and Kirghiz Republics.
Origin and history of breeding Budyonny horses
At the end of WWI, the cavalry and artillery horse breeds of Europe, developed over centuries, had suffered huge losses. Although technology had changed the face of war, many military commanders still believed there would be a need for cavalry horses in future. Cavalry horses provided the stock for competition horses, whether as outcrosses or pure-bred animals. In fact, the most important equestrian disciplines before the 20th century, dressage and various kinds of cross-country riding, both had their roots in military training. In the 1920s, the Bolshevik cavalry officer and horse breeder Marshall Semyon Budyonny set out to establish a new Russian cavalry horse breed. Budyonny chose Russian Don Horses, Chernomor mares from the Black Sea region, and Thoroughbreds as his foundation stock for his Rostov breeding programme. The Chernomor mares were the descendants of horses used by the Zaporozhian Cossacks, while the Don horses were descendants of the Don Cossacks’ horses. It was from the Don and Chernomor horses that the Budyonny horses gained their gleaming golden coats. The aim of the programme was to produce fast, powerful, hardy horses for military and competitive use through highly selective breeding. While the brood mares received additional care in winter, many of the horses were mainly raised in the traditional way, in taboons. This meant year-round grazing through all weather conditions, in groups watched by a herdsman. Too much Thoroughbred input could result in the loss of hardiness in the emerging breed. In the early days, Kazakh and Kirgiz horses were also used. Through the selective breeding process, three types emerged. The Massive Budyonny was large, hardy and a good carriage driving horse that could be kept in taboons. The Oriental type of Budyonny had a beautiful bay or chestnut coat with a golden sheen but was not so sturdy or hardy. Medium Budyonny horses were well-muscled and athletic, closest to the Thoroughbred and the modern sports horse, and this is the type that predominates today.
Budyonny horses in equestrianism
In the countries of the former USSR, Budyonny horses are successful at all types of racing, especially over obstacles and long distances. They are also used as dressage horses. Hardy Budyonny horses living a feral existence on a Rostov island have survived and thrived.