For the span of millenniums the horse has been always at a man's side. It has been supporting him in his work and in his feats of arms, has been providing him with food and clothes, has been serving truely in sports events, has been inspiring creators of folk epos.
The working horse has not lost its importance in our days. Moreover, new avenues are being opened for its broader use in equestrian sports, in tourism and in further promotion of horse breeding as an important branch of efficient animal husbandry.
Nature of the Soviet farm das been changed as a result of the introduction of the powerful farming machinery. The farmer has now at his disposal tractors, combines and vehicles. And it is natural that mechanization and electrification of agricultural production have considerably reduced the horse population. However, even in the modern village the horse still remains the true servant of a farmer.
The horse is needed not only for the subsidiary working activities but it performs other highly important duties in the national economy as well.
For example, raising horses for the purpose of milk and meat production is gaining momentum in Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bashkiria, Yakutia, Buryatia and in some other parts of the eastern USSR, where large state farms and horse farms are specializing in the production of horse - flesh and mare's fermented milk-koumiss.
Keeping horse herds on natural pastures all the year round ensures the production of inexpensive food products, helps to develop semi-desert, mountaineous and taiga pastures otherwise of little use for other types of domestic animals. The production of horse - flesh under such conditions is profitable both for farms and for the state.
In addition, the horse blood is a valuable raw material for the production of medicinal serums and other preparations used for medical and biologic purposes.
The horse has been always playing an important role in the cultural historic traditions of the nations populating the Soviet Union. It is not incidental that Russian epics celebrate epic heroes mounted on the incredibly powerful horses. The legendary horses - Pegasi - are glorified in epics of many nationalities, e.g. in Kirghiz "Manas", Kazakh "Kambar-Batyr", Kalmyk "Djangar", Yakut "Nyurgun-Bootur", as well as in nartic legends of the nations populating the North Caucasus, etc. From time immemorial the past generations passed on from one to another and into our days their original and now widely popular equestrian games and competitions such as fancy horse riding, tskhenburti, chovgan, isindi, kockpar, sais, baiga and others. And what festivity or wedding in a Russian village can do now without riding the dashing troika, what sabantui (national festivity) among Kazakhs, Kirghizs, Bashkirs, Tartars is possible without the high-speed baiga or temperamental horse games?
Confident positions have been taken by the Soviet equestrian sportsmen at international events: gold Olympic medals, champion titles, honorary cups. All this testifies to sporting skills of our horsemen and to the high quality of horses raised at the Soviet studs.
The equestrian sports in the USSR is enjoyed by broad masses of working citizens and farmers. The horse tourism is gaining more and more popularity.
The Communist party and the Soviet Government are taking care of the promotion of native horse breeding. As long ago as in July of 1918 V. I. Lenin signed the decree "On Pedigree Animal Breeding". By this decree all pedigree stock formerly belonging to landlords and other non-working owners was proclaimed a public property without compensation and was handed over to state farms and farming communes. In compliance with this Lenin Decree there were founded new state studs and stud stables, hippodromes and horse breeding communities.
The socialist reconstruction of agriculture required setting up the scientific and research network. Among the very first institutes of the V. I. Lenin All-Union Agricultural Academy in 1930 the АН-Union Research Institute of Horse breeding was founded. The work was placed on the planned and scientific footing. All problems were being solved in conformity with the demands and conditions of the socialist agriculture. The aim was taken at raising the large massive horses proportionally built, with exterior regular points and excellent working qualities. To tackle these problems successfully it was necessary to study the horse stock over the vast area stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, from the Arctic down to the southern borders of the Soviet Union. The collected material formed the basis of drawing up the state plan of the breed distribution by districts. Concurrently the work has been performed on arriving at the scientifically developed feeding rations and the rational use of horses. In view of the necessity to raise the horse population and to improve its quality the great importance was attached to investigations in physiology, reproduction and artifical insemination.
The socialist reconstruction of agriculture, foundation of large studs, intensified horse raising activities in collective and on state farms, implementation into practice of scientific achievements and progressive working practices ensured the successful development of this important branch of animal husbandry.
In the twenties and the thirties millions of horses were used at the construction of the first industrial and power giants, among them - Magnitogorsk metallurgical works, Gorky motor works, Stalingrad tractor works, the Dnieper electric power station and many others. The horse was also widely used at timber cutting and in road construction.
During the Great Patriotic War about three million horses were delivered by collective and state farms to the front. In cooperation with other arms of the service the Guards mounted corps were successfully beating off hitlerite invadors. Among such corps were those under command of generals Belov, Dovator, Pliev, Kryukov, Sokolov and others. In war combats and in areas temporary occupied by fascist invadors about eight million horses perished.
In war time and after the war the Communist Party and the Government of the Soviet Union realized a set of the state measures aimed at the restoration of the horse population and reconstruction of destroyed studs. The leader ship in horse breeding in our country was concentrated in the USSR Ministry of Agriculture. This work was headed by M. S. Budyonny, the prominent statesman, legendary commander of the First Mounted Army, Marshal of the Soviet Union. The decisive measures taken brought about in the shortest time the restoration of the horse population in our country.
The modern horse breeding in our country represents the system of studs, horse stables in collective and on state farms, state stud stables, hippodromes.
The leading role in this system belongs to state studs. They are dealing with the reproduction and improvement of horse breeds, raising of high-class sports horses and pedigree stallions for the stock of collective and state farms. The Soviet studs sell annuallly up to 6 thous. pedigree and sports horses at home and abroad.
The breeding orientation of various studs was dictated by plans of the breed regional distribution as well as by climatic conditions. As a rule, studs located in northern and central parts of the country specialize in raising horses of harness breeds (trotters and heavy-draughts), while in the southern parts preference is made to the riding horse.
The majority of state studs here has been founded in the Soviet time. In the twenties in Kuban Region the stud "Voskhod" was set up - a real pearl of the Soviet thoroughbred horses. The same years witnessed a foundation of the largest pedigree horse farms raising Don and other halfbreeds among them - studs named after Budyonny, the First Mounted Army, Kirov and Voroshilov in Rostov Region. During the same years in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic well-known in our country studs raising trotters were set up such as Order of Lenin Smolensky stud, Order of the Badge of Honour Permsky stud, Moskovsky stud. Issyk-Kulsky stud was put into operation - the largest one in Kirghizia specializing in raising Don and thoroughbred riding horses. Somewhat later - in the thirties and in the post war time highly cultured studs were set up in the steppes of the Ukraine, viz. Dnepropetrovsky and Onoufrievsky ones raising riding thoroughbred horses as well as Alexandriisky and Yagolnitsky studs specializing in horses of the Ukrainian group of breeds.
The oldest studs have been preserved also. Among them - the state Khrenovsky stud in the Voronezh Region and Pochinkovsky one in the Gorky Region as well as Derkulsky stud set up as long ago in the 18th century, Streletsky, Novoalexandrovsky, Limarevsky dating back to the outset of the 19th century. It is worth - while mentioning also a younger but nevertheless renowned Dubrovsky stud in the Poltava Region founded at the beginning of the nineties of the last century and well-known nowadays for its trotters.
There are functioning in our country also about 800 specialized horse farms attached to collective and state farms. As for the quality of their stock some of these farms do not lag behind the well-known studs, among those - the pedigree farm belonging to the rice growing state farm "Krasnoarmeisky" in the Krasnodar territory, one attached to the state farm "Prut" in the Moldavian SSR and those belonging to the state farm "Ekaterinoslavsky" of the Omsk Region and "Chiksky" of the Novosibirsk Region as well as to the collective farms "Ten years of the October Revolution" of the Stavropol territory, "Vanguard" of the Poltava Region, etc.
The noticeable work on improving the quality of horses is performed at 69 state stud stables. An important investment in the promotion of pedigree horse breeding was contributed by Stavropolsky, Tambovsky, Ulianovsky, Ufimsky, Chitinsky state stables as well as by others.
There exist sixty big and small hippodromes in the Soviet Union. Their main task is evaluating the working and sporting qualities of horses which by itself is a prerequisite for successful horse breeding activities. Hippodromes are functionning in Moscow and in a majority of capitals of the Union Republics: in Kiev, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, Baku, Tbilisi, Frunze, Ashkhabad, Dushanbe, Tallin as well as in many territorial and regional centers, such as Barnaul, Krasnodar, Perm, Kuibyshev, Saratov, Ulianovsk, Gorki, Kharkov, Pyatigorsk, Lvov, Odessa and in other cities. The leading among hippodromes is the central Moscow one where up to one thousand horses are tested at a time.
Riding horses are tested at summer racing courses only, while the most trotting types undergo tests all the year round. Hippodromes in the Soviet Union are not only considered as laboratories for testing the working and sporting qualities of horses but they also serve as recreation sites for the working people and as equestrian sports centers. Hippodromes witness great equestrian sports events.
The horse breeding activities are centered nowadays in the Ail-Union Research Institute of Horse Breeding. It is entrusted with the leadership of the highly important work on improving the existing horse breeds and breeding the new types and breed groups of horses with the practical work being performed by state studs and horse breeding farms belonging to collective and state farms. For the exchange of knowledge and experience the Institute sponsors the All-Union and international symposia and seminars with the participation of scientists from the socialist countries.
All gains in horse breeding the same as in other branches of animal husbandry depend on the working personnel, on the skills of grooms, herdsmen, riders, jockeys, trainers, zootechnicians and veterinarians. Grooms and herdsmen get extra payment for high productive results in raising offspring. The higher salary rates are envisaged for servicing the horses on remote pastures, in northern and sparsely populated areas. The best grooms, herdsmen, horse breeding experts are named the participants of the All-Union Exhibition of Economical Achievements and of the similar exhibitions in the Union Republics. They are awarded medals, valuable presents and honorary diplomas. Those specially distinguished are honoured with high government awards and honorary titles. Among horse breeders there is quite a number of those bearing the title of Hero of the Socialist Labour and awarded with the State Prize.
Training the highly qualified horse breeding personnel is performed at many higher educational establishments and first of all at the horse breeding department of K. A. Timiryazev Agricultural Academy awarded Order of Lenin and Order of the Red Banner of Labour. The department has its own unique museum of horse breeding, the educational and experimental stable equipped with an excellent manege used by the Academy students for learning the skill of riding and the elementaries of the equestrian sports.
The USSR Ministry of Agriculture publishes the monthly magazine "Horse Breeding and Equestrian Sports", the first eddition of which appeared in 1842.
The Soviet Union is ranking among the first in the world by the horse stock and the diversity of its breeds. The increment of the horse population and the offspring stock, further promotion of the flesh and milk orientation in horse breeding, improving the pedigree breeding work, wider popularization of the equestrian sports and riding tourism - those are the tasks put forward before horse experts by the Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the USSR Council of Ministers adopted in 1981.