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Russian Horse Drawn Troika

Updated on November 3, 2016

The Origin and Description of a Troika


1835-45 Russian Troika Threesome, Troika, deriv. of Troe Three (collective) akin to Tri Three ~

The Troika was developed centuries ago by the Russian Empire to cover the 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 jingling bells suspended from the peak of the central horse's collar,and the outside horses 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 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 best 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 has to be hard, 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" | Source

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 it's ingrained in desire for this subject.


It all started when we moved to San Francisco in 1951, we lived in a section of town that was called the "Russian District." We lived 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.

The Art of the Russian Matryoshka
The Art of the Russian Matryoshka

The book is the complete account of the history, production, varieties, and creators of the nesting doll that has become a symbol of Russian folk culture, if not Russia itself. Contributing to the history are commissioned studies from three of Russia's leading authorities on toys and folk art. The book includes 330 color plates, 200 of which are carefully selected examples of dolls. The examples include: historical dolls from museums in Russia; factory products made throughout the Soviet period in the villages of Sergiev Posad, Polkhovsky Maidan, Semyonov, Kirov, and Nolinsk; and artwork of independent artists, photographed in several of the artists' home-studios, in private collections, and in the inventory of importer-author Rett Ertl.


Russian winter in a Troika

Russian winter in a Troika
Russian winter in a Troika | Source

"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!

Spring driving Troika, white horses

Spring driving Troika, white horses
Spring driving Troika, white horses | Source

"Troika Wintertime" ACEO miniature

"Troika Winter Time" ACEO miniatures. Framed 4" x 7" acrylic on mat-board, sold on eBay.
"Troika Winter Time" ACEO miniatures. Framed 4" x 7" acrylic on mat-board, sold on eBay. | Source

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

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

Painted for myself...

The three small paintings below were painted for myself...I wanted the feel of the seasons and the different colors of horses.

Fall driving Troika, black horses

Fall driving Troika, black horses
Fall driving Troika, black horses | Source

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, just mute it then.

"Did I mention this is on my bucket-list to ride in one of these?"

Sleigh scene

Andalusian - Lusitana horse card
Andalusian - Lusitana horse card | Source

Xmas card designs

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

Russian Christmas card

Russian Christmas card
Russian Christmas card

painting by Kustodiyev

painting by Kustodiyev
painting by Kustodiyev

Great Russian items

These items are so beautiful...check them out! Wonderful keepsakes.

Christmas card

Christmas card
Christmas card

Note ~

Scraper Protection: Please Help STOP webpage theft...If you see this personal story page anywhere else on the Internet as a webpage besides here...Contact me...Thank You ~ Delia Pacheco

troika (three) copyright Delia Pacheco
troika (three) copyright Delia Pacheco

Created on 10/30/2008

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

Now do you know what a TROIKA is?

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    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

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

    • profile image

      penny-richens 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      Magpie Feathers 4 years ago

      Yes I did and your paintings are beautiful.

    • EpicFarms profile image

      EpicFarms 5 years ago

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

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

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

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Gee these are so beautiful and presented so well

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      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.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      candy47 5 years ago

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

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      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 Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Well deserved PS - congratulations,

    • bikerministry profile image

      bikerministry 5 years ago

      Whoa! Beautiful work. Blessings your way.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      sheezie77 5 years ago

      Beautiful pictures! Great job!

    • lclchors profile image

      lclchors 6 years ago

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

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 6 years ago

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

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      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 profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

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

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

      returning with some squidangel *blessings*.

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 6 years ago

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

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

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

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      marydixon 6 years ago

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

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      I learned a lot and enjoyed the beautiful artwork too!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 6 years ago

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

    • SaintFrantic profile image

      SaintFrantic 6 years ago

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

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

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


    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      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! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      WeirdStuff 6 years ago

      I remember these troikas from old russian movie fairy tales!

    • laki2lav profile image

      laki2lav 6 years ago

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

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 7 years ago

      Beautiful Lens!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 7 years ago from Iowa

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

    • puerdycat lm profile image

      puerdycat lm 7 years ago

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

    • raswook profile image

      Jeff Wendland 7 years ago from Kalamazoo, MI

      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 profile image

      myneverboredhands 7 years ago

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

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

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

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      What an interesting topic. Beautiful lens.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 8 years ago from Central Florida

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

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 8 years ago from California

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      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!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 8 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Beautiful!!!! Come join me at my

    • perfumereviews lm profile image

      perfumereviews lm 8 years ago

      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. :)

    • profile image

      greatartists 9 years ago

      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 profile image

      WhitU4ever 9 years ago

      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! ;)

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Delia, these sleighs convey warmth and romance.

    • Lamarena profile image

      Lamarena 9 years ago from Ireland

      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*

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 9 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 9 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

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

      Love, Trixi


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