Horse Breeding and Equestrian Sports
Horses have always been in my life. I was eight when my parents took me to Moscow Stud Farm No. 1 for the first time. For over forty years now, I have had the deepest affection for horses, and the Moscow Stud Farm still has a very special place in my life. Many of my happiest memories are connected with the Farm.
The Stud Farm was and still is one of the leading breeding farms in the country. It went through hard times during perestroika but managed to survive. Today the Farm continues to grow and successfully breeds the famous Orlov trotters that are justly considered to be Russia’s national pride. The Stud Farm conducts research in the field of horse breeding and promotes equestrian sports. In the late 1990’s, the Moscow Stud Farm contributed to reviving the Russian Troika Championship, which has gained popularity in Russia and around the world.
A few years ago, we began talking about creating the National Equestrian Park that would share the Stud Farm’s land and infrastructure. This will be a unique project for Russia. A number of leading experts agree that large, multifunctional complexes are ideal in both economic and practical terms and can develop into a new source of financing for the industry, in addition to meeting an important need in society. The equestrian park model has been applied successfully in many countries all over the world. It is an attractive model for businessmen who take an interest in horses and, moreover, understand the opportunities for profit in the industry.
As a person with extensive business and management experience and the deepest affection for horses, I decided to try to do something for the development of horse breeding in Russia and revive its traditions and prestige. When I was invited to lead the famous Rosplemkonzavod association of Russian horse breeders in 2003, I already had some experience in the industry and knew which direction we should go.
A true milestone in the development of Russian horse breeding was the Third All-Russian Conference of Horse Breeders, which was held in 2004 with the support of Rosplemkonzavod. The conference adopted the Programme for the Horse Breeding Development in Russia through 2015. This document described a range of measures to boost the industry’s performance. I am happy to see the successful outcome of many of the ideas voiced during the Conference and included in the Programme. Our efforts were not wasted, and our achievements are obvious.
Horse breeding is not like other businesses where the goal is to generate profit right here, right now. As a business, I would compare horse breeding to art collecting. All successful and really talented collectors – like Morozov or Shchukin – were looking years, even decades, into the future.
In my life I have two great loves – horses and art. What do these two seemingly different passions have in common? I think both are national treasures. Art lovers and horse lovers operate in very delicate and extremely important spheres that are important to everyone. Money is not the key here. First and foremost, you have to have a feeling of beauty, of national pride and – believe me, these are not empty words – love for your country. However, any collector or horse breeder who cannot handle finances will not be able to make the business profitable and will inevitably fail sooner or later. So you have to strike the right balance of business values, attraction to beauty and love for your country. Our great predecessors knew how to do it, and we have to learn from them.
Horses are for sale, just like paintings. So any horse (like any painting) has its price. But horse breeding is more a part of national culture than a production sector, and national culture is priceless. We revived the Moscow Stud Farm’s international auctions after a long interruption. Today the auctions are a fabulous success. Nevertheless, a horse is not just an item for sale. Nor is it just an animal. Your horse is someone you love and care about, someone who loves you back.
Vladimir Mayakovsky wrote “[w]e are all essentially horses,/ each and every one of us is something of a horse.” These words are really meaningful to me. I have strong ties with my horses and feel responsible for them. I love horses as I love art. And I am a happy man, because I am able to dedicate the greater part of my life to my two greatest passions.