Name of breed: Tersk
Country of origin: Russia
Breed origin: The Tersk horse was developed from the 1920s to 40s at the Tersk and Stavropol studs in the North Caucasus mountains in Russia. The Tersk Military Stud was established in 1921, in the aftermath of the Russian Civil War, in order to restore Russia’s much-depleted horse stock, especially bloodlines with a strong Arabian influence such as the Strelets Arabian. The Strelets breed had been developed by crossing Arabians with Orlov Trotters, Thoroughbreds and Anglo-Arabs, and had a very high percentage of Arabian blood. To create a similar breed, the two remaining Strelets stallions and three purebred Arabian stallions were crossed with Arab-Don and Strelets-Kabarda mares, producing a horse with the Arabian’s intelligence and overall type, but a larger frame and increased substance. During the breed’s development, a few carefully selected Arabian stallions were also introduced to bolster the gene pool and improve the overall quality of the Tersk horse. In 1948, the Tersk attained official recognition as a breed. There are five sire lines and five mare families, and most of the population now lives at Stavropol Stud.
Distinguishing features: Tersk horses are intelligent, willing, even-tempered, elegant and athletic, with amazing powers of endurance. They cope well in the harsh conditions of their mountainous native territory and are typically very sound. Their appearance strongly resembles that of the Arabian: a refined head with expressive eyes, high-set neck with long, sloping shoulders, well-rounded croup, deep, wide chest and clean legs. Unlike the Arabian, the Tersk’s head has a straight profile, and the breed usually stands between 15 and 15.3 hands high. Tersk horses have a fine coat that is almost always grey or ‘white’ with a silvery sheen, although bay, chestnut and black are also occasionally seen. Their skin, mane and tail are also fine, and the tail is set high and carried gracefully. They are faster than the Arabian and often used for racing, where they can match the Thoroughbred for speed over long distances.
Modern day Tersk: These horses are extremely adept at endurance riding, and in Russia they are frequently used for racing and in circuses. Their graceful movement and proud carriage makes them well suited to dressage, and their bold nature and athleticism sees them excel at show jumping, cross country and eventing. In fact, as their popularity gradually increases, Tersk horses are proving themselves incredibly versatile in a huge range of disciplines. They are frequently used to improve other native breeds such as the Lokai and the Deliboz.
Image credits: Katarzyna Okrzesik-Mikołajek, Pinterest, Alex Avramenko.