The ancestry of the Tori horse comes from the Estonian native horse.
Records show that the state manors of Tori and Avinurme had been used by the Livonian gentry, under contract from Russia, since 1826 for the breeding and rearing of cattle and sheep. The landlords were attempting to make woollen fabric from their Merino sheep, but the damp conditions were fatal for their stock.
In 1855 the gentry asked the Russian emperor to extend their contract for a further 24 years to enable them to establish a horse stud. Establishing a stud was viewed as important for two main reasons. The local horse breed was near extinction and a larger herd with heavier horses was required for farm work. The Tori Stud was established in 1856 in Pärnu county, 26 kilometers from the town of Pärnu in the south west of Estonia.
Tori Stud was established with 47 mares and 7 young stallions of the Estonian breed. The oldest records about Estonian native horses are dated from 11th century. In 12th-13th century, mainly merchants of Novgorod, exported the Estonian native horses. During the 13th century the Estonian native horse was used mainly as a warhorse, especially in the battles in Swedish age. Peter I ranked their abilities very highly and many horses were taken to Russia. In addition to the native breed, 10 Finnish mares and 3 stallions were imported from Finland. From the Veil Horse Stud in Germany, 3 Arab stallions were bought for riding and luxury purposes as well as 2 Trotter stallions. An Orlov Trotter Stallion was imported from Russia whose two most outstanding sons, Heldenknabe II and Hyperion, had a great deal of influence on the Tori breed. The Orlov trotter is the oldest and most popular stud breed in Russia. Orlovs are not as fast as the Standard breed and French trotters, but are more robust, endurable, surefooted, strong, and tough. Their trotting action is most impressive. Orlovs are extremely valued in Russia as ameliorators of local breeds.
Improving the Estonian breed by cross-breeding did not provide the desired results until a
Norfolk-Roadster crossbred stallion, Hetman (born 1886), was brought to Tori Stud from Poland. His sire was Norfolk-Roadster stallion Stuart and the dam was a hunter-typed (big, mighty universal typed riding horse) mare with unknown parentage. Hetman was a chestnut colored blazed horse with a strong good developed body. He had a good nature and riding characteristics. The offspring of Hetman were of the same type, with outstandingly good food utilization, dashy temperament and good durability when worked. The offspring of Hetman was equal at farming or transporting and riding. He became the basis for breeding the Tori breed, he gave good offspring suitable for farming and he is the founding sire of the first stallion lines and mare families.
One mare of note was Leidulaps, born in 1925, a result of crossbreeding an Estonian mare and a Tori stallion, she was one of the most fertile mares to this day – 17 foals during her life.
Until 1936 Norfolk-Hackney and local Estonian horses remained the core components in
breeding the Tori horse. The number of the lines was enlarged in 1937 with new imported stallions of the Postier Breton breed. The dominating color is chestnut, with white markings on the head and limbs. By nature the Tori horse is energetic, good-natured, placid and is a willing draught animal. More recently, the breed has shown great promise in the Equestrian circle.
In the recent past, the breeding style has changed direction, moving from the heavier type of horse to a lighter palfrey which is now being bred. At the same time approximately 25% of the old-typed universal Tori horse suitable for harnessing and riding is still retained and bred.
Tori horses have been sold to the Swedish Police force and the Moscow Circus, with others going to Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. During the Soviet times many went throughout the USSR especially to the Ukraine. They are popular for riding at holiday centers because of their placid and easy nature.
Dundee Tori Stud is the first and only stud in Australia, indeed the Southern Hemisphere, to import and breed this magestic horse.
For further information on the history of the Estonian native horse, the Tori horse, click here.