The Budyonny, (or Budenny, Budyonovsky or Budonny) is one of the more delightfully named of the Russian horse breeds. The horse with the delightful name is handsome, intelligent and bright-eyed. The Budyonny (bood YAW nee) is considered one of the best all-purpose riding breeds developed in the former Soviet Union. Originally bred to be the perfect Russian cavalry horse, the Budyonny now competes competitively in horse sports. Budyonnys can be found in many parts of the world, including North America.
The Budyonny gets its name from cavalry officer Marshall Semyon Budyonny (or Budenny), who owned a large stud farm named after him in the Rostov area of Russia. After World War I, horse populations were decimated in Russia. Studs around the areas not only wanted to create a new breed but also to restore what was left of the Don breed.
657 horses were used to form the core genetic basis beginning in 1921. 359 of those horses were crossbreds between Dons and Russian-bred Thoroughbreds; 261 were crossbreeds of Black Sea horses (Chernomors), Thoroughbreds and Dons, and 37 were crossbreds between Chernomors and Thoroughbreds. Kazakh and Kirgiz breeds were also used, but it’s thought that their lines have not survived. By the end of the 1948, the breed was established.
But after World War II, the demand for horses plummeted. The Soviet Union disbanded the cavalry in 1953. Horse breeders concentrated more on producing horses for sport than horses for war or agriculture. Budyonnys have won the world’s second most difficult steeplechase, the Pardubice (where any breed can run). In 1950, a Budyonny stallion named Zanos won a 192 mile race in 24 hours. He rested only four hours of those 24.
These are tall, lean, athletic horses averaging 16 hands high. The head greatly resembles a Thoroughbred in shape and that you can see some veins through the thin skin. Most Budyonnys are chestnut, sometimes with a golden sheen similar to a Don’s. The other colors are black, bay and dark bay. Budonnys many have a lot of white markings on the legs and head.
Many Budyonnys have a few conformational flaws that are thought to be inherited from the Kazak or the Thoroughbred. These include splayed forelegs, weak hind legs and weak joints. These are being bred out. The withers tend to be higher and the back shorter than a Thoroughbred’s, but this does not affect the horse’s strength or athleticism. The hooves are reputed to be excellent.
Although individual horses will have their own quirks, generally the Budyonny is an optimistic, good-natured horse that is willing to try new things and not as easily spooked as some other breeds. They are also said to be more intelligent than most people.
“International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds.” Bonnie Hendricks. University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.
“The Ultimate Horse Book.” Elwyn Hartley Edwards. Dorling Kindersley; 1991.
Terrific Pets.com. “Budyonny Horse Weird Facts Did You Know?” http://www.terrificpets.com/articles/102234065.asp
Russian Horses. “Budenny.” http://www.horses.ru/budenny.htm