At one time, the writer Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol compared the Russian troika with a bird. This is a typical Russian way of harnessing horses for fast riding over long distances. At the same time, the horse harnessed in the center (root) had to trot, and the side (tied) horses, at a gallop. The troika could reach speeds of up to 50 kilometers per hour, no other harness was distinguished by such agility.
11 interesting facts about the Russian troika
- There is a saying that the Russians harness slowly, but go fast. This expression rightfully refers to the troika. We harnessed it thoroughly, without haste. At first, the central horse was laid - the root. Shafts were attached to the clamp, connected by an arc. Then the fasteners were fastened with leather strings. All elements of the harness had to be carefully adjusted. The oldest horse was the root horse, and the younger ones were attached.
- When did the Russian troika first appear? Historians believe that this happened at the turn of the 17th-18th centuries and was used by the tsarist courier service. Moreover, initially the number of horses in the harness directly depended on the number of passengers in the wagon. If there was only one person, then one horse was enough. And three horses were allowed to be harnessed only if there were at least three passengers.
- Troikas often became participants in road accidents. They rushed so fast that the oncoming carriages simply did not have time to give way. And this led to clashes in which both the horses themselves and the people suffered. And the delivery of goods of state importance in these cases was disrupted. To prevent such troubles, bells began to be attached to the arc, the ringing of which could be heard from afar. And for the passengers themselves, this ringing brightened up a long and monotonous journey.
- The trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg in a troika usually took three days. There is a legend about how Catherine II decided to hit the speed of the Russian coachmen of the Austrian Emperor Joseph. And she ordered to deliver it to the Mother See in 36 hours. The coachman confidently declared to the empress that he would bring the body of the distinguished guest on time, but he was not sure that he would bring his soul.
- Most often, horses of the Vyatka breed were harnessed to the top three. They were not large, but very playful and hardy. Wealthy people could afford the elite Oryol trotters. Usually, horses of the same breed were harnessed, while the root bar should be larger than the pulling horses. It was believed that the best age for horses for a troika is 6-8 years. And under 5 years old it is better not to use at all in the top three.
- The harness of the troika was usually richly decorated, the clamps were richly decorated, and the arch was distinguished by painting and carving. Initially, they tried to replace bells with post horns, as in Europe. But, they did not take root in our country. The coachmen were reluctant to use horns, preferring to warn of their approach with a dashing whistle and shout. Bells were allowed to be used only by drivers and the police, the rest were content with bells.
- From the middle of the 19th century, triples competitions began to be held. For example, such competitions were regularly held at the Moscow Hippodrome. For example, there is information that in 1847 the Karaulov Yamskaya troika covered 33 versts in 1 hour 21 minutes and 18 seconds. And in 1911, two Russian troikas were shown in London at the World Equestrian Exhibition, timed to coincide with the coronation of George V. They were awarded prizes for both beauty and agility.
- It is impossible to recall all the works in which the Russian troika is mentioned. N. V. Gogol, L. N. Tolstoy, F. M. Dostoevsky wrote about the troika. A.S. Pushkin, S.A.Esenin, A.A. Blok sang in their poems. Many musical works are dedicated to the Russian troika. Until now, the author of the famous song "There is a troika rushing by" is unknown. It is assumed that the author of the text could have been the poet Leonid Nikolaevich Trefolev.
- Already at the beginning of the twentieth century, postal troikas became not in demand. They were replaced by trains and cars. And the troikas began to be used only for competitions and folk festivals. For example, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, appreciated this once popular mode of transportation during his visit to the Soviet Union.
- Cyrus Eaton, an American entrepreneur of Canadian origin, was a big horse racing fan. His company took part in the implementation of a number of projects in the USSR. And Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev gave Eaton an excellent gift - three Oryol trotters.
- In the seventies of the last century, the Kalinin Carriage Works produced an experimental series of high-speed passenger cars, named "Russian Troika". On tests, they freely withstood speeds of up to 200 kilometers per hour. Currently, this car can be seen in St. Petersburg at the Museum of Russian Railways.