ENDANGERED

400

180

Budenny horse mares worldwide

(10 in north america)

Don horse mares worldwide

The Budenny horse ("Bood-yaw-knee") is an endangered breed from Russia that was originally developed as a cavalry mount. It is closely related to the even more at-risk Don horse, the famous mount of the daring Cossacks. Both breeds are known collectively as "Russia's Golden Horses". Today, the Budenny excels in competition as an all-around performance horse with particular strength in show jumping, steeplechase, and eventing. Several have even made it to Olympic fame (Fabiy, Rhythmical, Reis, Pass Op). In the 1980's, the great Portugeuse dressage master Nuno Oliveira acquired several Dons and Budennies and called them "the best horses in his life".  The Budenny is known for its bravery and endurance; average heights range from 16 to 16.3 hands. Over 80% are chestnut, and gold with a metallic sheen is especially prized (a throwback to Don and Turkoman roots). They can be bay or brown otherwise, but never gray, black, or splash/LP patterned.

Breed History

After the massive casualties of World War I (1914-1918) and the Russian Civil War (1918-1921), the Russian cavalry was heavily depleted and in need of remounts. Horseflesh, like human, does not withstand well the rigors of gunfire. 

 

Marshall Semyon Budenny, a respected Soviet cavalry general, undertook the task in 1921 with a grand vision of creating the ideal cavalry officer's horse. An officer's horse had higher demands on its potential to survive, and on its endurance to regularly travel the cavalry column with speed. 

 

Years before in wars with France, Don horsemen hired by Russia chased the enemy across rivers with limitless daring. Their horses were a steppe breed born and raised on the unforgiving steppes of northern Russia. They were called Don horses after the culture that cultivated them. This hardy horse became the base stock from which the Budenny sprang.

Marshall Semyon Budenny and Budenny stallion Sophist.

Artist: Staniševskij Y. A., Calais С.В. 2008

In 1949, the breed was officially recognized. In the Rostov region, government-guided stud farms crossed Don and Anglo-Don mares with Russian and European Thoroughbred stallions to improve the look, speed, and conformation of the Don. Because foals inherit over 50% of their looks and temperament from their dam, using native mares helped to preserve the integrity of the steppe horse. The Budenny Horse possesses a highly trainable and intelligent mind. Known as one-person horses, they bond with their handler as befitting a breed destined to be a soldier's partner. The Budenny needed to be easily controllable, sure-footed, brave, spirited and able to make independent decisions for itself so that its rider could be otherwise occupied. 

After the close of World War II and the disbanding of the USSR Cavalry in 1953, the Budenny was transitioned into the role of sport horse. In Russia, it is well known as an exceptional show jumper, and endurance races are regularly run to test for the quality of young stock. Budennies have been known to perform well in jumping, dressage, steeplechase, and eventing. The Budenny Horse possesses the unique physical attribute of being able to recover faster from hard exercise and with a lower pulse rate than the average horse, giving it similar capabilities as the favored breed for endurance events, the Arabian horse. This makes them exceptional candidates for sport and is testament to the rigorous athletic standards that base stock were subjected to.

In America

When the Soviet Union was dismantled in the early 1990’s, it was a time of great political upheaval and economic distress. In the late 1990’s the ruble collapsed and the economy hit a new low; it was at this time that we saw the first Budenny Horses making it to the United States. The Russian stallions Beopul, Deych, and Kaled were all imported to the U.S. prior to 1995. In terms of offspring, the stallions Kaled and Rubico (imported in 2004) have had the most impact on the growth of the Budenny Horse in North America.

Today, the Budenny horse continues to be a rare breed in danger of extinction, even in its native Russia. Current trends towards European warmbloods have resulted in the loss of 200 breeding mares from the main population, with a steep drop from 600 mares in 2011 to 400 mares in 2018. There are currently three key stud farms in the Rostov region, the native homeland of Budennies: S.M. Budennyi Stud, First Cavalry Army Stud, and Tselina Stud. The Rubilnik family line was developed at First Cavalry Army Stud and it represents the epitome of current Budenny breeding ideals in Russia. This line continues to live on in horses sired by Rubico in the USA.

Kinaja, Champion US-Born Daughter of Kaled. Owned by H. Anderson. Photo by the Anderson Family.

The legendary Don horse is in even more dire straights with even lower worldwide numbers (180 mares). Population counts fluctuated at the close of WWII when both Don and Budenny horses had to find other roles in the equestrian world, and were put at risk when the government-run stud farms became fragmented and privately owned. Other native Russian breeds such as the Orlov-Rostopchin, the Orlov-Trotter, and the Tersk are at risk. The Akhal-Teke, a breed from Turkmenistan, is a popular but at-risk breed in Russia whose studbook is maintained by VNIIK. Careful breeding programs by those who are passionate about rare breed survival are integral to their success.

 

 

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