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Russian Horse Drawn Troika

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The Origin and Description of a Troika

Russian Troika Threesome, Troika, derived of Troe Three (collective) similar to Tri Three ~

The Troika was developed centuries ago by the Russian Empire to cover a wide area and rough roads at great speed.

A Russian carriage or sleigh pulled by three horses abreast, has become a revered symbol of Russia itself.

A Troika carriage is used in the summer and a sleigh in the winter, the sleigh is generally more popular even in the summer. The three horses used are typically Orlov Trotters, which are said to be the best troika breed, and are arranged with the center horse between the sleigh shafts and wears the duga, which is the semi-circular wooden bar that connects the main shafts over the centre horse. There are bells suspended from the peak of the central horses’ collar. The outside horses are guided by splinter bars attached to the sides of the sleigh. The center horse moves in an extended trot, the side horses gallop with their heads bent outward, driven with four reins...two reins for the center horse and one for each outer horse. Their way of going is very synchronized.

Troika's are elaborately decorated with leather tassels, chains, brushes, rosettes, and stars, among other things. The duga, (the semi-circular wooden bar) is often decorated in a light blue flower motif and tends to be very colorful, while bells traditionally hang from it and can be heard from a great distance.

The center horse of a Troika is to trot, the other two canter... the near horse leading with his off fore, and the off horse with his near fore. To make the respectively lead in this manner, the head is pulled in an outwardly inclined position by a side-line, this was an advantage for horses to guard themselves against the attack of wolves...

If you watch the YouTube videos you can see how very fast they travel, twelve miles per hour...and then the side horses heads pulled to the side must be hard on them, especially on a turn...The middle horse trotting while the outside horses are galloping is an amazing task, just keeping them in same rhythm and speed...You have to admire them!

My painting "Morning Attack" received 1st place

"Morning Attack"

"Morning Attack"

My interest in the Troika

started 1951 in San Francisco

I'm writing about this subject because I have a great interest in it, especially through my Art and love of Horses...I hope someday I will be able to experience riding in one of these Troika's. My grt.grt.grandfather Johann Meyer lived in St.Petersberg Russia, maybe its ingrained in me...and my desire for this subject.

It all started when we moved to San Francisco in 1951. We lived in a section of town that at that time was called the "Russian District." Our apartment was in the attic of a Victorian style house, the people that owned the house where from Russia...we were new immigrants from Germany, so they took us under their wing.

While I was playing outside and roller skating to the end of the street I fell, as I was making an attempt to get up with my bleeding knee (still have the scar) pulling out the glass embedded, an old man approached me from the house. He talked in very broken English, of course I didn't understand a single word he said, however I knew his kindness in trying to help me. As I looked up, the garage door of his house was open and what caught my eye had a living impact on me. It was a mural at the end of the garage, the mural was of a "Troika" three white magnificent horses coming at you in the snow.

Of course being horse crazy I kept this in my memory bank and as soon as I healed up and could walk without too much pain, I went back to that garage. It turned out this old man painted the mural. To this day I still wonder if it's still there... I doubt it, but none the less, I still think of it often.

Because of this experience, I've had an interest in painting images of Troika's. Right after all this happened I came across a cartoon on TV and it had Troika's in it, this very cartoon I saw once again as an adult (I think the cartoon was foreign) Years later I searched the internet without success...I would love to find it again.

Russian winter in a Troika

Russian winter in a Troika

Russian winter in a Troika

"Russian Winter in a Troika" was one of my very first miniature paintings of this subject, that's about twenty years ago. It was displayed with my art at our local Library. Two years after that show, I got a call from a gentleman inquiring about that miniature painting, requesting to buy it. He said, it reminded him of his great-grandfather, especially the bear fur blanket on the driver of the sleigh...interesting sale!

ACEO miniature painting

"Troika Winter Time" ACEO miniature 2.5” x 3.5”  sold on eBay.

"Troika Winter Time" ACEO miniature 2.5” x 3.5” sold on eBay.

Painted for myself...

The three small paintings below were painted for I used photographs in a magazine....wanting the feel of the seasons and the different colors of horses.

ACEO miniature 2.5" x 3.5" painting

"Troika Fall Time" ACEO miniature 2.5" x 3.5"

"Troika Fall Time" ACEO miniature 2.5" x 3.5"

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Spring - driving white horses

Spring driving Troika, white horses

Spring driving Troika, white horses

Fall - driving black horses

Fall driving Troika, black horses

Fall driving Troika, black horses

YouTube video of a Troika - from Russia...

The video is real nice...this one is of an Opera being sung while driving the team, very old movie....I like Opera, but some of you won't, so just mute it.

"Did I mention this is on my bucket-list to ride in a Troika?"

Xmas card design

I love painting these scenes, especially for Xmas cards. This design is available on CafePress.

Sleigh scene

Winter sleigh scene Card - Andalusian

Winter sleigh scene Card - Andalusian

Russian Christmas card

Russian Christmas card

Russian Christmas card

Christmas card

Christmas card

Christmas card

What you are is God's gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God: Danish Proverb

© 2008 Delia

Now do you know what a TROIKA is?

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on February 14, 2014:

I enjoyed your lens, but I am more amazed at how artistically talented you are. I adore that card you designed.

penny-richens on January 02, 2014:

I'm actually working on a piece about Orlov Trotters right now. They are pretty fascinating. You can't really study a horse breed without learning about the history of the country it is from. Russia is one of those you could study your whole life and still not know everything about it seems. Beautiful work, I especially love the Christmas card you designed.

Magpie Feathers on December 22, 2013:

Yes I did and your paintings are beautiful.

EpicFarms on April 30, 2013:

What a neat lens. Great information (and something supercool to add to my own bucket list ;o) Nicely done!

Delia (author) on March 31, 2013:

@anonymous: Wow wish I could see it! The only thing I can suggest, contact an Art Institution such as Sotherby's.

anonymous on March 31, 2013:

I have a large painting, with a young couple, horse & sleigh it is from a Li Jue collection, very fancy gold frame. I wish to know how to find out more about it.

cmadden on February 14, 2013:

I, too, would love to ride in one of these, especially the sleigh. These paintings are absolutely wonderful!

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on February 06, 2013:

Everyone else puts their horses side by side in twos. This is different.

anonymous on January 11, 2013:

Gee these are so beautiful and presented so well

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on January 07, 2013:

I already knew what troika is but enjoyed in your presentation. It is really special and I remember there was also very popular vodka with the same name. I suppose it shared at least some qualities with the horse drawn troika.

Takkhis on January 05, 2013:

I learned not only something but many things from this lens, Great lens!

candy47 on December 29, 2012:

Lovely lens and informative too! Congratulations on the Purple Star!!

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on December 29, 2012:

Excellent work and congrats on the purple star. I knew the three-horse sleigh was called a troika, but now I know more about the horses running with different gaits. This is really a gorgeous lens, thanks for sharing.

Paul from Liverpool, England on December 29, 2012:

Well deserved PS - congratulations,

bikerministry on November 11, 2012:

Whoa! Beautiful work. Blessings your way.

Delia (author) on August 19, 2012:

@anonymous: I know what you mean, it's not a natural way of going...

anonymous on August 19, 2012:

I cannot imagine that this does anything good to the horses' wellbeing, similar to the Victorian bearing reigns. Looks cruel.

sheezie77 on June 22, 2012:

Beautiful pictures! Great job!

lclchors on May 08, 2012:

I have seen paintings but this is the first video very interesting. Looks very difficult to manage

Spook LM on April 01, 2012:

I think I know what a Troika is now and thanks.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on March 29, 2012:

You have captured the spirit of the horse in all of your paintings. I just love them. I am again returning to many of your lenses I visited when not a Squid angel. I am sprinkling a bit of angel dust here and there.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on February 20, 2012:

I came back to read this again after watching Dr Zhivago last night. Your paintings are lovely. Great work on this page.

goo2eyes lm on February 06, 2012:

returning with some squidangel *blessings*.

Sher Ritchie on February 06, 2012:

I've seen troikas in some Russian art works, but didn't know anything else about them until I read your lens. Thank you.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 02, 2012:

I often use this word but did not know its origin. This is very enlightening.

goo2eyes lm on December 13, 2011:

very nice lens about russian sleigh ride with a troika. i like your personal stories.

anonymous on November 24, 2011:

Wonderful Lens, I enjoyed it, thank you for sharing!

justholidays on November 15, 2011:

This Russian Troika lens brought me back to my childhood and school where we studied USSR and the former Russian Empire... What a wonderful trip in the past I've made through this lens! Thank you Baroness for your hard and interesting work!

norma-holt on November 13, 2011:

Great lens and very educational. My word they do travel fast, like a small car.

marydixon on November 11, 2011:

What a terrific lens - loved it - and learned stuff too.

KimGiancaterino on November 05, 2011:

I learned a lot and enjoyed the beautiful artwork too!

pawpaw911 on November 03, 2011:

Amazing that a childhood event could have such a lasting impression.

SaintFrantic on November 02, 2011:

Great story.Glad that I can learn new things from you.Thanks

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on November 01, 2011:

learnt about russian horse drawn troika. the art works are really amazing. enjoyed my visit.


dahlia369 on October 26, 2011:

Your paintings are stunning and after I read your story I understood, why. The love for this Russian tradition comes from within your heart and that's the most precious inspiration for any artist. You are so blessed! :)

anonymous on October 15, 2011:

I now know what a Troika is and will never forget because it was a lesson learned in beauty! Your artistry is in both brush and pen. I love how you share about the differences in the horses gaits, now that is just cool!

WeirdStuff on September 28, 2011:

I remember these troikas from old russian movie fairy tales!

laki2lav on August 23, 2011:

Really interesting. I never knew troika originated in Russia. Great job with this subject!

elyria on April 29, 2011:

Beautiful Lens!

Mona from Iowa on March 17, 2011:

These are so very lovely. Blessed by a leprechaun kiss.

puerdycat lm on December 09, 2010:

Thank you. This is beautiful! Love the Troika. Love so much: "Brothers Karamozov," wonderful mood-setting winter scenes. Horse-drawn rhythms!

Jeff Wendland from Kalamazoo, MI on November 07, 2010:

I remember learning about these in grade school. I remember that they took a great deal of skill to maneuver. I remember how powerful they could be.

myneverboredhands on September 23, 2010:

Great lens. Very well presented. Your artwork is simply beautiful. Thumbs up for your talent!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on September 20, 2010:

Gorgeous artwork you are so very talented. Best wishes to you.

SofiaMann on September 13, 2010:

What an interesting topic. Beautiful lens.

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on March 25, 2010:

This was delightful with the videos, your art, and the stories.

Kathy McGraw from California on March 04, 2010:

Yes, now I know what a Trokia is:) I have a few of these on my Russian Boxes I collect. My favorites are not just with the horses, but with the women with the fur hats and muffs riding in the sleighs. I also loved your story of when you fell in the snow, and saw that picture in the Garage.

anonymous on December 01, 2009:

Just beautiful! There's no snow here in North Carolina, otherwise I'd try this with my donkey! I've featured this on my fan-club thank-you lens so - thank you!

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on October 18, 2009:

Beautiful!!!! Come join me at my

perfumereviews lm on September 11, 2009:

Wow this is really interesting. I had no idea. And to think of all the elite riding around in sleighs, winter and summer, to traverse such a beautiful and expansive country... so intriguing! Thanks for sharing. :)

greatartists on April 03, 2009:

Hello d-artist, I really enjoyed this lens. An uncle gave me a Russian children's book back in the 60s and I remember the pictures in it of troikas speeding across the snow. You have brought back fond memories!

WhitU4ever on March 24, 2009:

Beautiful lens! 5*'s and favorited. I have featured this lens and all of your horse lenses on The Equine Outlet. Thanks for letting me know! ;)

anonymous on February 01, 2009:

Delia, these sleighs convey warmth and romance.

Lamarena from Ireland on December 18, 2008:

Beautiful lens !!! It brings me so many good memories and emotions. I grew up in Lithuania Soviet Union times. My gr. grandparents were from Russia. I finished Russian school and all my childhood memories associate with "Magic Russian Troika" which is so symbolic of Russian soul, Russian freedom. Even my favorite poem was famous Russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov poem "Troika". I love Russian Christmas Cards – I have always imagined how Ded Moroz (Russian Santa Claus) rides his Magical Beautiful Horse Troika at the great speed to visit me each Christmas… ;) Ahh… Thank you! 5*

julieannbrady on November 10, 2008:

I am so touched with your wonderful artistic talent and storytelling. Remarkable work and love how you weave your story in your lens. It is a very engaging style.

Andy-Po on November 05, 2008:

Very interesting (5*) I go to Russia fairly often and have been to a few art galleries in Moscow, but I didn't know what a Troika was.

anonymous on October 31, 2008:

This is a great contribution again Delia ....congratulations to it! Love the paintings!

Love, Trixi

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