Dedicated to Don Horses
If you have ever been in Rostov region in Russia and have seen a herd of Don horses in the steppes, you would not be able to forget the image of a sparkling golden cloud. These horses might be the real gold of Russia, its national pride and patrimony.
The history of Don breed is connected with the history of Russian Empire and counts several centuries. The birthplace of Don horse is the steppes in the South of Russia where the Don river flows. In the ancient times it was the territory of nomad folks: Scythians, Sarmatians, Alanians were sharing the land. In the I century BC Huns have conquered the other nomads in their invasion to the West. In the II century CE chronicles describe Khazars – one of the most mysterious folks in the world history that inhabited the land to the North of Caucasus. They disappeared by the XI century, when the steppes were occupied by Pechenegs, Nogaj, Polovtsians and other nomads of Middle Asia. Two hundreds years later the Mongol invasion began, the folks mixed again, and so did the horse breeds.
In the XVIII century, as Nogaj horse breeding decays the don horse gets inherited by their neighbours – Don Kozaks and partly Kalmyks. Kozak’s horse is the main part of the folk’s life. In many songs it is meant as the Kozak’s truest friend, it is called “wind-legged” for it speed; people celebrate the horse’s stamina and faithfulness to its owner.
Though the first settlements on Don date back to the ancient times, the first official evidences of “Don Kozaks” can only be found in the chronicles of Moscow Kingdom beginning with the year 1549. In the second half of the XVII century the Kozak nation begins to grow and the population of horses increases together with the number of people. For the Domestic war against napoleon in 1812 the Don army was presented by 60.000 soldiers; each one with two horses. It was the only army that came back from Paris on its own horses. No other cavalry has ever managed the same. To be continued.