Among the large number of horse breeds in the history of horse breeding, there exists and occupies an important place the Belarusian draft breed. For the majority, this is just a horse, but for the Belarusian nation, this is the best breed in the world. And not only because it is the only national breed in the country, but also because these horses are truly endowed with tremendous beauty and strength.
Long awaited recognition
Currently, this breed is at the stage of development and formation. And it is, most likely, a happy exception among other breeds of harness horses, whose fates can now have a far from happy ending. After all, it’s not a secret for anyone how difficult it is to be in the modern world, among the machinery that has been improved and mechanized to the limit, harness horses, which have now been sent to retirement, and many of them can be said to be verge of extinction.
However, the Belarusian breed managed not only to survive in conditions of modern mass technical equipment, but also to gain good pace in development. Its official recognition and approval of breed standards took place only in 2000. After testing by the state commission, the Belarusian horses were approved by the Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Belarus. The Belarusian horse could be called one of the youngest breeds in the history of horse breeding, if the one and a half century history of this breed did not stretch behind its shoulders. The breed formation process was very long. It was a logical continuation of the work carried out since the end of the 19th century on the formation of the pedigree type of Belarusian horses. The basis was taken by local workhorses of the northern forest type of Belorussian Polesie, who, with small growth, were distinguished by truly amazing endurance and performance. So, work began on improving the local peasant horsehead by various West European breeds, including the Goodbrandsdale, the Ardennes, the Hanover harness breed, as well as the Soviet and Russian heavy trucks and the Oryol trotter. As a result of such crosses, a group of horses was obtained, with which later breeding of the best crossbreeds without the addition of blood of breeding animals of other breeds was carried out. Thus, the presence in the emerging population of certain groups of horses that meet the developed standard in recent decades has created the opportunity to carry out predominantly purebred breeding of promising types, to create the necessary elements of the breed. In the process of this work, typical individuals were propagated, the quality of the offspring was assessed, the best stallions and mares were selected and widely used, a genealogical branch of the breed was created, breeding plans were developed, and the breeding stock of horses was formed in promising farms. When testing the breed type, it was found that in 116 farms with a pedigree breed core, including two stud farms, there were 243 stallions and 2955 mares, including 208 stallions and 2011 mares of the elite class.
Breeding work with horses was carried out according to a combination of characteristics: origin, typicality, measurements, external exterior qualities, working capacity, and in specialized farms and on the basis of milk production. Productive selection turned out to be in the breeding farms, while leaving for self-repair from 12 to 27% of their peers by at least one sigma. Which, in turn, ensured a consistent improvement in the quality of the stock. In addition, various forms of horse selection were used. At the breeding stage of the controlled livestock selected from the population, when it was necessary to relatively quickly form a significant number of horses that were similar in appearance and harmoniously folded, the main attention was paid to the severity of the type in stallions and mares. The breeding stock left mainly those individuals that exceeded the minimum requirements for breed standards on this basis or corresponded to it, that is, the type of selection was directed. By measurements, a stabilizing selection was carried out in order to consolidate the results. The use of this selection method has led to positive results. From 1970 to 1990, the assessment of the exterior type of mares was increased by 9.8-15.2%, and stallions by 6.7-8.1%. During this time, measurements of mares increased by only 0.6-4.4%, stallions - 1.2%. Gradually the livestock was typed, further work with the breed implied its enlargement. Since 1990, the direction of selection of horses has changed somewhat. As producers began to use stallions and mares with measurements exceeding the standard by 1-3%.
The genealogical structure of the Belarusian harness breed is represented by six production lines of Anode, Bayan, Dove, Noticeable, Forest Eagle and Orlik, as well as 13 uterine families of Bulanka, Bera, Cherry, Dove, Drapezhka, Willow, Zorka, Leski, Pasti, Malanka, Narochanka, Magpies , Shipky.
According to examples, horses of factory breeds do not have significant differences, but each of them is distinguished by individuality of exterior qualities in the frequency of occurrence of individual characteristics, which were formed as a result of a separate selection of stallions and mares according to the type of line ancestors. For example, the horses of the Anode line have the most pronounced draft forms, of medium-sized frosty head and of medium size with a high neck exit.
The horses of the Bayan line are broad-bodied, massive, bony, sometimes with a soft back and forked large. Descendants of the Pigeon are usually short and short, but broad-bodied and bony, they do not differ in the particular attractiveness of the articles and have a somewhat “rustic” appearance. Horses of the Covenant line have the most lightweight physique and are distinguished by the average development of breeding traits.
The horses of the Orlik line are harmoniously built, have a small beautiful head, medium size, well muscled wide long croup, well-developed limbs.
The descendants of the Forest Eagle are somewhat rude. They are stretched, bony, are characterized by high stress resistance and high milk productivity in different conditions.
The ancestors of the lines were born in the early 50s. In each of these lines there are at least 50 queens, promising successors of 4-5 generations are identified. Breeding along the lines is carried out under conditions of a pedigree core of an open type with a significant influence on the active part of the breed of the entire controlled breeding composition. This happens by using in the selection of line extensions both queens of certain lines, and genealogically undifferentiated mares selected according to the highest severity of the type desirable for the genealogical structure. The use of such a selection concept with multi-stage selection made it possible to expand the genealogical structure and to obtain an increase in the line estimate by 0.1-0.5% per generation.
The genetic heritage of horses from their ancestors increased by 17% with an increase in inbreeding coefficients, which turned out to be the highest in the Orlik line-3.5%. Along with this, the overall rating of horses increased. Individuals born from intraline lineups using moderate inbreeding on the line ancestors, from individual crosses, especially with the participation of producers of the most common Orlik line, which is characterized by the highest compatibility with other genealogical structures, are most highly rated.
Belarusian draft horses are the main improvement of work-horse-breeding in the republic. Each year, more than 300 pedigree stallions and mares are put up for sale for reproduction. Overrepresented young animals, adult rejected livestock, after not prolonged feeding are sold for export.
The breed’s leading reproducers are the Zarechye experimental facilities of Smolevichi, Niva, Lida districts, Mir’s stud farm of Baranovichi, Korelichi breeding farms, Korelichi nacha, Lyakhovichi nacha, Porplishche, Dokshitsa districts, as well as more than 50 pedigree horse farms of various forms of ownership .
General characteristics of the breed
Belarusian harness horses have a pronounced harness type of build, proportional to the head, medium-sized back, wide and deep chest, well-developed limbs, strong hoofed horn, strong constitution. However, possessing such pronounced working qualities, this horse can not be called just power traction. The general proportionality of addition gives their appearance harmony and stunning beauty.
The height at the withers of the stallions is on average 156 cm, the oblique length of the body is 161.1 cm, the circumference in the chest is 193.1 cm, the circumference of the metacarpus is 21.7 cm, and the live weight is 600 kg. Corresponding parameters of the mares are 151.4-161.0-185.9-21.2-500. Belorussian horses are very well dressed, with a golden tint, suits - bulan and solovan. In addition, the breed is characterized by a meaty and bay suit.
The modern Belarusian breed possesses all the qualities so highly valued in a working rural horse: strength, endurance, durability, unpretentiousness, fecundity and milkness. Recordists of this breed overcome 2 km at a trot with a traction force of 50 kg in 5 minutes 01.3 seconds, and in increments of a traction force of 150 kg in 14 minutes 46 seconds, they pass from 240 to 482 m with a traction force of 300 kg.
The breed is characterized by the highest productivity among heavy trucks, or the “economy” of using horses, which consists in the fact that, per unit of live weight, they develop a pulling force of 2.2-14% higher than other heavy-breed breeds. However, the positive qualities of the breed do not end there. These horses are also valued for their versatility, and can not only pull a wagon to work in the field, but also ride a horse and get high results in horse races and competitive competitions. Here is such a horse - the pride and beauty of the Belarusian woodland.
The breed originates in the western part of Belarus, in the settlements of Desna and Viliya.
Breeders tried to breed unique animals that will be endowed with endurance, speed, strength and high performance. Scientists crossed local horses with:
- horses of Arden breed,
- Polish conics
- Nordic Swedish horses
- horses of the goodbrandal breed.
Soon, all of the above qualities and received horses of the Belarusian breed. And already 10 years after the breeding, in 1812 the first horse factories were built, containing more than 100 pedigree stallions and about 1000 purebred mares.
Official Recognition and Factories
Despite the fact that the Belarusian harnesses were bred at the beginning of the 19th century, the breed was officially registered on May 20, 2000.
But Belarusian harnesses have always pleased breeders with their stunning successes. Since the 1900s, 500-1000 animals were exported annually from the country. Residents of neighboring countries willingly bought these horses for long work in the mountains and transportation of heavy loads.
The most distinguished stud farm in Olszew. They sold the best and most workable horses, fully meeting the standards. For a while, the breed was even called the "Olshovo draft breed." But a few years later the old name was returned and fully consolidated.
To date, there are only three breeding plants for Belarusian draft horses - in the Baranavichy and Smolevichi districts, the city of Lida.
Now the improvement of the breed of Belarusian draft horses is carried out by the method of breeding along the lines. There are only six of them:
- Orlik the First
- Bayan the First,
- Anode One,
- Forest Eagle
- Cherished First.
The most common line is the Orlik stallion. He lived only 20 years, but was able to leave a large offspring. All horses from Orlik differ in their energetic temperament, good physique and compliance with all standards. The most prominent son of a breeding stallion was Nord. He was able to show excellent results at the All-Union tests and repeatedly won at exhibitions.
The most enduring horses are individuals received from the Anode of the First. Most foals from him were born through artificial insemination. Anode himself and many of his descendants were able to establish a good time in endurance tests at All-Union competitions. He set 2 records. First: on the delivery of goods in steps, having traveled 2 km in 14 minutes 46 seconds. Second: the transportation of the largest cargo of 20 tons 3 kg.
The horses received from Bayan the First are distinguished by a massive body, strong constitution, endurance, increased working capacity and activity. Most often they are used in teams for the transport of heavy goods. It was Bayan’s son, Petrel, who broke the record for cargo delivery. He ran a distance of 2 km at a trot in 5 minutes and 1 second.
Less popular is the famous line of the Covenant. There are very few descendants of this horse. They are less massive and do not fully fit all standards. Most often, horses along the line of the Covenant are used for agricultural work.
Two more lines - the Dove and the Forest Eagle, are completely "extinct." From these horses there was not a single stallion-producer, who would continue to continue their existence.
Purebred Belarusian horses are light-harnessed, have a powerful body, a long mane and tail. The legs and neck are short, due to which the horses are very hardy and are able to run (or walk) long distances.
Some breeds have so-called “brushes” - hoof villi. The profile of the muzzle is often straight, without bends. On the back is sometimes a black belt. This is a special strip along the spine, often characteristic of stallions.
- up to 152 cm - in mares,
- up to 156 cm - in stallions.
- chest girth - 193 cm for stallions, 189 cm for mares,
- metacarpal circumference - 22 cm for stallions, 21.5 cm for mares,
- oblique body length - 162 cm for stallions and mares.
Allowed colors of Belarusian harnesses:
- solovy (light red)
- Bulan (burgundy brown with black tail and mane),
- cream (shade of light yellow),
- bay (brown with black tail and mane).
Less common are gray, black and white horses in apples. No pied pie (white to brown spots and vice versa). In case of identification of "piebaldness" the horse loses purebredness.
Belarusian draft horses are considered long-livers - they often live up to 30-35 years.
Character and temperament
They are distinguished by a warm disposition; they make contact with people. Sometimes they show themselves from a not very favorable side - they do not admit a person, bite, kick, try to throw off. Most often, young stallions or horses behave this way, who received serious psychological trauma in childhood.
Circled horses are suitable for inexperienced riders or small children. For experienced riders are not suitable.
Other horses are indifferent. Do not rush. Often love to be alone, inactive. But they require space. You can leave alone for a walk in a levada or paddock.
The lynx and gallop are soft, crisp. The step is very wide. Jumping with stocks.
Belarusian draft horses are suitable for hippotherapy - a method of psychological rehabilitation using horse riding.
Scope of application
The Belarusian draft horse is now more often used in equestrian sport.Despite the powerful physique of these animals, they often show excellent results in show jumping up to 140-150 centimeters in height, in the dressage Small Prize and triathlon.
Cross country cross-country (part of the triathlon) occupies a special place. Horses of this breed easily overcome "dead" obstacles, again showing shocking results in time and endurance. The length of the route often reaches 40 km. Pass at a gallop.
For rural work, Belarusian horses are also not outdated. Suitable for transporting heavy loads and plowing.
In addition to all this, in Belarus this breed of horses is used to obtain horse meat and a drink from horse milk - koumiss. Since these products are not widespread in the country, they are exported abroad and sold there.
Often, Belarusian draft teams, competing with other heavy trucks (and more often with Russian, Soviet, shires and perhersons) wiped their noses to their competitors.
A more famous example is the "race" on the move in 1968. Belarusian horses and Russian heavy trucks took part. The task is to walk 120 km in steps. The winner is the one who quickly gets to the finish line. Trotting and galloping was forbidden to run, otherwise removed from the race.
The first came Belarusian horses, breaking the path in less than 8.5 hours with an average step speed of 13 km / h. Opponents, however, traveled only 70 km and went astray, refusing to go any further. Moreover, they covered this distance in 9 hours, without having reached 50 km! The average speed of Russian heavy trucks was 8 km / h.
But it is interesting that the pulse and breathing of the Belarusian harnesses have not changed much. With the same ease, they could go another 100 km and not a bit tired.
They also showed great performance in sports. Two competitive stallions - Grozny and Yenisei are separately noted. Both more than 10 years took prizes in show jumping in international competitions on routes with barriers up to 140 cm.
Unfortunately, they did not bring any world records, but they were able to prove to everyone that even heavy trucks are able to show themselves in sports.
The pros and cons of the breed
Of the pluses, the following indicators are distinguished:
- completely universal, used in all areas of equestrian sports,
- unpretentious in leaving, there is no tendency to diseases,
- hardy, can do without feed and water for a long time,
- are able to spend hours without getting tired of walking or trotting,
- have nice soft paces
- good-natured people, get along with small children, suitable for amateur hobby class riding.
The drawbacks of the Belarusian draft horses are many times less. Of these, only two are distinguished - poor frost resistance and low adaptation to a new climate (for example, to sudden changes in temperature or moisture).
Care and maintenance tips
Belarusian harnesses are almost unpretentious in care and maintenance, but still you need to know a few important rules:
- Due to the fact that horses of this breed have a thick mane, parasites - carriers of infections often live there. Therefore, it needs to be cut annually. Better - under the root or in the form of a mohawk.
- In summer, the hair should be trimmed so that in winter the undercoat is thicker and warmer. In winter, cutting is not advisable.
- Do not leave in the cold. Frosts are poorly tolerated, therefore, the stall before the winter (in mid-November) is insulated, for example, with foam.
- The size of the stall is at least 14 square meters. With a smaller area, horses will feel uncomfortable.
- Animals drink up to 50-55 liters of drinking water per day.
- It is better to feed 5-6 times in small portions not more than 1-2 kg of food (hay, grain, root crops, compound feeds, bran, vitamin and mineral supplements). Or 3 times a day for 4-5 kg of food, but the duration of feeding should be at least 2.5 hours so that the horses can fully satiate.
- Horseshoes are necessary (no matter where the horses are used), as the hooves easily deteriorate and rot.
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