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First Posted: June 29, 2009
Sep 24, 2010

Kabardin and Karabakh Horse - Many are gaited.

Kabarda, Kabardin

Karabakh Horse


Country of Origin: Karabakh, Azerbaijan

The Kabardin and Karabakh Horse are both mountain horses. Both seem to exemplify the qualities required of mountain horses. Horses bred for work in mountainous terrain often display a conformation in the quarters and hind legs that would be unacceptable in the usual stamp of riding horse (cow - or sickle hocks), but which appears to be a necessary feature of the working mountain breeds.

The Karabakh horse is a mountain-steppe racing and riding horse. It is named after the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, part of which is under Armenian control. The horse was originally developed in this region. The breed is noted for their good tempers and speed. As an example: in 2004 a Karabakh horse named Kishmish from the Agdam stud in Azerbaijan made a speed record by running 1000 meters in 1 minute, 9 seconds and 1600 meters in 1 minute, 52 seconds.

Kabarda, Kabardin - Some Are Gaited The breed is thought to be a cross-breeding of Akhal-Teke, Persian, Kabardin, Turkoman Horse, and Arabian horse. It also influenced the development of the Russian Don horse in the 19th century. At present, the Karabakh is bred mainly in Azerbaijan, but most of the horses are Karabakh-Arabian crosses, not pure Karabakh horses. Currently the breed numbers are below 1,000 and it is threatened with extinction.

Kabarda, Kabardin - Some Are Gaited

Breed Characteristics Kabarda, Kabardin - Some Are Gaited

The breed is hardy, strong, tough, and sure-footed. The horse is not large, 14-15 hands high or 145-150 cm. They have small clean-cut heads, a straight profile with broad foreheads and nostrils very capable of dilation. The neck is set high, average in length, muscular and elegant. They have compact bodies with well defined and developed muscles. The shoulders are often quite upright. The horses have a deep chest, a sloping croup, and long, fine, but very strong legs, although the joints are small. The horses are narrow, not very deep through the girth, due to the Akhal-Teke influence.

Their skin is thin and soft with gleaming hair. The main colors of the breed are chestnut and bay, with characteristic golden tint of the breed. They can also be gray. White markings are allowed.

As well as being fast and agile, the Karabakh horse is reputed to have a good temperament: calm, willing, and brave.

Breed History

The Karabakh has close links to the Akhal-Teke, which is bred in Turkmenistan, Central Asia and the Turkoman horse bred in Iran. Some historians believe that in ancient times these horses were of the same strain and had significant influence on the development of the Arabian breed. Some historical sources mention that during the Arab invasions of Arran in the 8th-9th centuries tens of thousands of horses with golden-chestnut coloring, characteristic for Karabakhs, were taken by the conquerors.

The breed got its ultimate shape and characteristics during the 18th-19th centuries Karabakh khanate. There is some evidence that Karabakh ruler Ibrahim-Khalil Khan (1763-1806) possessed a horse herd numbering 3,000-4,000, mostly of Karabakh breed. From the 19th century onward this horse breed became increasingly popular in Europe. Thus, in one of the first massive sales in 1823, an English company purchased 60 pure Karabakh mares from Mehdi-Kulu Khan, the last ruler of the Karabakh khanate. Karabakh numbers were initially hurt in 1826 during the Russo-Iranian war, but the breed remained intact. After Mehdi-Kulu Khan, his daughter Khurshidbanu Natavan took care of the breed. In a series of successes her Karabakh stallions received the highest awards in various exhibitions during the 19th century. As a result, the Karabakh horse Khan received a silver medal at an international show in Paris in 1867. At the second All-Russian exhibition in 1869 the Karabakh horse Meymun also won a silver medal, another stallion Tokmak won bronze. The third, Alyetmez, received a certificate and was made a stud-horse in the Russian Imperial stud.

The Karabakh has played an important role in the formation of the Russian Don horse breed. In 1836 the heir of the Russian general Madatov sold all his horses, including 200 Karabakh mares, to a horse-breeder in the Don region. These Karabakhs were used for improving Russian Dons' characteristics into the 20th century.

In the early 20th century the Karabakhs sharply decreased in numbers once again, mostly because of civil and ethnic wars in the Caucasus in general and in the Karabakh region in particular. The horse breeding enterprise established by the Karabakh khans and developed by their heirs was destroyed in 1905. The offspring of many pure-blood Karabakhs became a mix of Karabakh and other, non-pure, horses, and this resulted in changes in some characteristics, such a reduction in size.

In 1949 the breed was revived at the Agdam stud in Azerbaijan, which brought together the most characteristic Karabakhs. In 1956 a Karabakh stallion named Zaman, along with an Akhal-Teke named Mele-Kush was presented by the Soviet government to the British Queen Elizabeth II.

The Karabakh horse breed suffered another setback during Nagorno-Karabakh war. In days before the capture of Agdam by the Armenian forces in 1993 most of the Karabakh horses were moved from the Agdam stud. These horses are currently bred in winter pastures in the lowland Karabakh plains between Barda and Agjabadi provinces.

Karabakh Horse

The Karabakh is a good example of a light riding horse. The breed has been heavily influenced both by the Arab horse and by desert horses related to the Arab. The Akhal-Teke from which the Karabakh inherits its striking coat color, has had a particularly strong effect on the breed. The Karabakh stands at about 14 hh. The coat may be chestnut, bay, or dun, and it nearly always has a distinctive, well-defined, metallic sheen. Karabakh horses are performance-tested on the racecourse, and the best stock are those connected with the Akdam Stud. A similar horse, found in Azerbaijan, is the Deliboz, which should really be regarded as a strain of Karabakh.

For More Information:

Oklahoma University Breeds of Horses and Livestock


Horse Breeds
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