An Orlov trotter stallion from 1900. Photo/Thomas von Nathusius (1866-1904), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Orlov trotter belongs to the oldest breeds of trotters in the world. Breeding started late in the 18th century when an officer named Alexei Orlov Chesmensky from the ranks of Catherine the Great Empress in Russia envisioned to breed elegant draft horses with high trotting action, fast and enduring trot that could serve well as carriage and sleigh horses in Russia.

To achieve his goal, he crossed Arabian horses with Danish and Dutch breeds. With controlled inbreeding and strict selection, Mr. Orlov succeeded in a relatively short time to establish a breed which in 1865 when the studbook was founded, got his name Orlov trotter.

At the beginning of the 19th century, this new breed quickly spread as carriage horses and for a while they didn’t even failed to win on the trotting track. In the second half of the 19th century, lighter-built and even faster racing trotters were bred which replaced the Orlov trotter on the racetrack.

Orlov trotters have a height at the withers of about 160-165 cm and are mainly found in the colors gray, black or brown. Chestnuts can occur. They are robust, have strong nerves, are persistent and long-lived, and have excellent qualities as draft and sleigh horses. They are also suitable as riding horses. On the racetrack, an Orlov trotter can reach speeds of up to 52 km/hour.

The most famous horse of this breed is without a doubt the stallion Clever Hans (1895-1916).


Sambraus, H.H. Atlas der Nutztierrassen, Eugen Ulmer Gmbh & Co. 1986, page 163.

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