Pearl of Gagauzia

Author: Ivan Ivancev

For more than 25 years, Konstantin Kelesh has been the director of the ‘AT-Prolin’ enterprise for raising breeding horses of the world famous Orlov trotting breed. In addition, Konstantin is a painter from God.                             

In 2003, his work was awarded an honorary diploma from the French Association of Trotting Horse Breeding. In 2005, the «Sodruzhestvo» Association of Riding Horse Breeding, of which Kelesh is a member, and the Russian Council for the Conservation of the Orlov Trotter published his first album of drawings. In the same year, a wall calendar was released in Italy, illustrated with the graphic works of Konstantin. He draws mostly horses. Konstantin had a love for horses in his childhood when his father first put him on a horse. Since then, he can not imagine life without them. He is a hereditary horse breeder: great-grandfather, grandfather and father had all dealt with horses. And the eldest son of Konstantin, Dmitry, followed in his father’s tracks. Help is really needed: caring for a horse requires a lot of time, effort and money.

The Orlov trotter was bred more than 200 years ago by the complex crossing of Arabian, Danish, Dutch and Mecklenburg breeds. It is a unique breed with no comparison elsewhere in the world. In addition to trotting races, a large and well-dressed Orlov trotter can be successfully used in almost all types of equestrian sports — dressage, jumping, racing and just amateur riding. Konstantin’s horses participate mainly in racing, with horses harnessed into two-wheeled carriages. For this, horses must be constantly trained and kept in shape. They are not trained to go for a plow or to carry loads.

From the very beginning of the establishment of the enterprise, the horses underwent training at the Odessa hippodrome; after the collapse of the Soviet Union, this became impossible and difficulties appeared. “The horse and rest are incompatible concepts, the horse must always be in motion, this is the only way to prepare it for running!”, says Konstantin Kelesh. In 2003, a small modest hippodrome was built on the farm. Here, annual races are held, which are attended not only by local amateurs but also by foreign guests. The Orlov trotters of Konstantin Kelesh also participate in virtual championships for the type and appearance of horses, and they often take first place.

All trotters on the farm are very attractive and have original nicknames. Of particular interest is the process of choosing the name of a newborn foal. It should always start with the first letter of the mother’s name, but also the word should contain the first letter of the father’s name, thus creating a whole story. For example, The Legend has the father Grozny, the mother Lyrika. Each horse has its own personalised certificate, developed on the initiative and layout of Konstantin Kelesh. The data on the animal and its pedigree are entered in the passport.

Each horse has its own character, its own manners, habits, says Kelesh: “There are flexible horses, affectionate. There are cunning ones too. If I train them to run more than usual, because I see that she is fit and can still work, then they stop and turn to me with reproach: why am I going further than normal? There are also frisky and elegant horses, like the stallion Prince (bred from Propolis and Gesture), and there are handsome ones, like the stallion Lupine (of Propolis and Chronicle) — our top model! «

The stallion Propolis has now passed away. At the horse farm, he erected a monument. The horse lived for 24 and a half years — which is almost one hundred human years. Propolis was the father of more than a hundred stallions and mares. 

There is also a museum at the horse farm where you can see medals and certificates for first places won in virtual championships. Here are also photos of Orlov trotters of Konstantin Kelesh living further afield: one now lives in the Chisinau zoo, and the horse Farhad Pasha serves in the mounted police. Here you can also find state-owned records on the Orlov tribal trotters of the ‘At Prolin’ horse farm.

A thick, almost all used up book attracts attention. This guest book is not just a book, but a whole epoch of Konstantin Kelesh’s life. For many years, there was a question about the closure of a horse farm due to lack of finances. “Today, there are only 9 people working on the farm with 70 horses,”says Kelesh. «We share responsibilities among ourselves, we have to work a lot. I am the director, the guard, and also a worker: it is necessary to unload the hay, it is necessary to clean the stables, etc. And I oversee the breeding and birth of new horses on the farm. On all Russian farms where I have been, the level of organization and preparedness is much higher than ours. And this is not because we do not know how to work with Orlov trotters, but because their horses feed better, and are kept in better conditions, and the staff of workers exceeds ours two or three times. There are trainers, a training rider, a jockey, veterinarians, feed specialists, grooms. We have seven of them doing this. Sometimes, when there is a good buyer, you have to sell horses in order to feed others. We are allocated 300 thousand lei a year, but we need about a million.” Horses have to be fed with straw and oats, which are also not always there — hay for them is a delicacy.

At the moment, the horse farm is being transferred under the remit of the Executive Committee of Gagauzia. Work is underway to create a professional hippodrome and the corresponding infrastructure, so that it can be promoted as a new tourist attraction for the region. This horse farm in Ceadir-Lunga is the pride of the Budjak steppe and all of Moldova.

State enterprise for breeding horses ‘At-Prolin’ Address: 6101, ATU Gagauzia, mun. Ceadir-Lunga, st. Lenin 91 Phone: (373) 0-291-22504/0-291-23029 Fax: 0-291-22504 Director of At-Prolin — Konstantin Kelesh

Artwork by Konstantin Kelesh, Photos by Vera Garciu and from various online sources

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