Horses Of The Caucasus

by Christine

The Caucasus region and mountain system is the dividing line between Europe and Asia. The northern part of the Great Caucasus in Europe is called Ciscaucasia. And the southern part in Asia is Transcaucasia. The whole Caucasus region with an area of 440,000 square km. is predominantly mountainous. The origin of the domestication of the horses can be traced to the grassland of this Eurasian Steppe. This is the reason why the horses of the Caucasus are the world’s best mountain breed. Early Caucasians use horses for agriculture, transportation and warfare. They believe the horse is a symbol of honour success and generosity.  There are three horses native to the Caucasus region: Karabakh, Kabarda, and the Karachai. The culture of horse breeding takes roots in the difficult mountain terrain of this region.

The Karabakh also known as Karabakhskaya in Russian is the pride of the Caucasus. Experts say that this horse found on the southern part of the region is one of the oldest breeds in Asia. Karabakh is a mountain steppe riding and racing horse. Karabakh horses are performance-tested on the racecourse. Horses with this bloodline are favourite in bookmaker bets.  Karabakh horses are brave, they were involved on the frontlines of the battles. During World War 1 Caucasian warriors were fighting on these horses. These horses are not afraid of bullets and would run towards artillery redoubts.

Karabakh is the national animal of Azerbaijan and the official symbol of Agdam and Shaki region. The breed is known for its good temper, endurance and speed. The distinctive feature of this horse is its golden colour. They are mainly golden-redheaded and bay horses. There were almost no blacks or grays among them. The Karabakh influenced the development of the Russian Don horse. The golden colour of the Don horses is attributed to this breed.

The Kabarda or Kabardin horse is native to the Northern Caucasus. The early mountain tribesmen of the region breed the native Kabardin. This horse is the product of natural selection for centuries for its ability to survive harsh conditions. The Kabarda is the world’s best mountain horse. The supremacy of Kabarda is more apparent on higher altitude. This “extreme breed of horse” can live under extreme weather condition. It has developed the characteristics suited for difficult mountain terrain and harsh climate. This warm-blooded equine combines the agility of the hot-blooded horse with the milder temperament of cold-blooded breeds.

There are three main subtypes of Kabarda:
Basic type is the typical mountain horse for riding. This is predominantly rangy but well-muscled.
Massive type is the bigger horse with more robust bone structure which is similar to a typical carriage horse.
Oriental type is smaller with more Arabian influence. It has a smaller head, clean legs, thinner skin and hotter temperament.

Kabarda is generally healthy with no known breed-specific health issues.  They are also multi-talented, the can perform various task well. They can do endurance riding, general riding and agricultural work. Crossing a Kabarda with an Anglo-Arabian will give you Anglo-Kabardas. This breed perfectly combines the advantages of the two breeds. Anglo-Kabarda is noted for their high speed, vigour and strong constitution.

The Karachai horse also called Karatschaever, Karatschaewsker & Karachaier is a breed that comes from the breeds of the northern Caucasus. This breed was developed at the start of this last millennium. The Karachai comes from the combination of southern, steppe and eastern horses that is very similar to the Kabarda breed. It differed from Kabarda in having a more elongated and massive body with less expression of saddle type. It has an elegant head with curved ears, and a wavy mane and tail. The prevailing colours of Karachai are black and dark brown. The Karachai horses are typically used for riding, equestrian gaming, transportation and tourism. The first studbook for this breed was created in 1935.