Russians have always had a deep affection for their horses. Stories abound of incidents in which people have been saved by their horses. The Don, a type of Russian steppe horse, can guide its rider to safety through a snow blizzard or the densest of fogs. Russian hero Marshall Budenny is credited with founding this breed that bears his name, following the Revolution and the fall of the Tsar. He set out to produce an excellent horse for the military to replace horses lost in World War I and the protracted civil war. From the Don and Chernomor (similar to the Don but lighter and smaller) mares, the Budenny was bred as a speedy and robust cavalry horse. Thoroughbred blood was added later. Kazakh and Kirgiz crosses were also involved, though less successfully. Today it is a specialized riding horse that is good enough to compete at show jumping and dressage, as well as race over fences.

The Budenny, pronounced "bood-YAW-knee" and also spelled as Budyonny, is one of Russia's most popular and versatile native warmblood sport horses. It was officially recognized as a breed in 1948. The Budenny stands 15.1 to 16 hh; the color is usually chestnut, but may be bay, gray, rarely black or brown. The gold sheen so prevalent among Russian horses is often seen. The neck is long and well-formed; the chest is wide and deep; the legs are long and strong with good bone and muscle structure; the tendons are solid and the hooves are well-formed. The withers are high and fairly long. The back is relatively short, wide and even, however some flatness near the withers is quite common. The loins are wide, medium length and muscular. The croup is usually long, of normal slope and width.

[Photo of Budenny horse]

Still bred in the Rostov region where it originated, the Budenny, unlike the Akhal-Teke, is a calm, sensible sort of horse, although it, too, possesses great stamina and endurance. Some Budennys may be a bit difficult with strangers.

Outside of native Russia, the Budenny can be found in several European countries, but very few exist in the States because of its relatively new introduction. The The North American Budenny Society promotes the Russian Cavalry Horse in the United States and maintains a database of records of all known Budennys and crosses in the United States.


  1. Ultimate Horse Revised. Elwyn Hartley Edwards
  2. Magic Hoofbeats: Fantastic Horse Tales By Josepha Sherman
  3. Simon & Schuster's guide to horses & ponies of the world. Maurizio Bongianni
  4. Horse Breeds of the World. Nicola Jane Swinney, Bob Langrish
  5. Encyclopedia of the horse. Elwin Hartley Edwards

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