conformation fine head, long, straight neck, long,
weII – musc|ed back, flat croup
colour bay, black, chestnut
height 16 hands
uses light harness
For decades, the Orlov Trotter was unsurpassed in terms of speed and strength, and was the fastest trotter in Europe. But as the world got smaller, he was outpaced by the American Trotter (Standardbred). Not only was the American version a smaller, finer-boned horse, but his harness was less heavy and he was driven to a lightweight sulky, known as the amerikanka. Following the dramatic success of the ‘incomer’, the race was on to improve the existing breed. 56.9 seconds.
And so, in the late 19th century, Orlov horses were crossed with the American Trotter, the resulting equine being markedly faster than the purebred Orlov but at the expense of the beauty, power and stamina that are the latter’s hallmark. For harness-racing enthusiasts, however, this was a sacrifice they were prepared to make – most of them, at any rate. There followed protracted and heated debate within both the breeding and racing fraternities, some pleading the case for greater speed at all costs, others outraged as what they saw as the ’contamination’ of Russia’s favourite equine. The Russian Trotter was recognized as a separate breed in 1949, since when efforts have been made to improve it and iron out conformation defects. But speed the horse certainly possesses — the record for a 1,600 m (1 mile) trot is 1 minute
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