The KABARDIN AND THE KARABAKH are both mountain horses. The former is the local breed of the northern Caucasus, while the latter originated a little further south, in the Karabakh uplands, between the rivers of Araks and Kura in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the two breeds are neighbors. They are descended from the Mongolian-type steppe horse of “primitive” origin but because of their geographical position, between the Black and Caspian Seas, they have been open to he influence of eastern stock from the bordering countries of Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Iran. However, their character results just as much ‘porn their environment as from the influence of the southern outcrosses.
The Kabardin has been considered a breed since the 12th century. In the 13th century t became famous in the states bordering the Caucasus and further a field, and it was regarded as the finest mountain horse in the hole of the area of the former USSR. The horses have a remarkable ability to negotiate steep mountain passes, cross rivers, and go through deep snow. They also have an unerring sense of direction, which enables them to find their way in the dark and :through heavy mountain mist. The breed is naturally hardy and, like many other Asian horses, is capable of great feats of endurance. During a trial held in 1935-32, following a route round the Caucasian ridge, Kabardins covered 3,000 km (1,820 miles), in bad weather, in 33 days. This achievement has not been approached by any other breed.
The Kabardin is strongly built, with a thick-set body and short, powerful limbs. As with so many mountain horses, the hind legs are characteristically sickle-shaped. The long head is usually accompanied by a convex, Roman-nosed profile, reminiscent of the Asiatic Wild Horse The action is energetic and fairly high, as befits a mountain horse that has to pick its way over rough ground. As a result, the Kabardin is not a fast galloper; nonetheless, the walk is even and cadenced, and the trot and canter are light and smooth. Like many other Asian horses, some Kabardins pace naturally (It is said that the pacing gait was passed on to all horses of Mongol blood by the favorite mount of Genghis Khan.) The breed is highly regarded for its very calm and obedient temperament. It stands at around 1.52-1.53 m (15-15.2 hh), and is usually bay or black.
During the Russian Revolution in 1913 many Kabardin horses were lost. However, in the 1920s work was begun at the Kabardin-Balkar and Karachaev -Cherkess Studs to re-establish and further improve the breed. As a result, a stronger type was produced, capable of agricultural work and suitable as an army remount. The best Kabardins are bred at the Malokarachaev and Malkin studs, .there they are kept at pasture on the high round throughout the summer, and in he foothills during the winter. They are performance-tested on the racecourse when hey are two years old, but are not as fast s the more specialized racing breeds. However, they are well suited for other Local sporting activities.
The Kabardin horse has been improved ad made bigger by heavy infusions of Persian, Arab, and Turkmene blood, and as also been crossed with the neighboring Karabakh. Some mares have been crossed with Thoroughbreds to produce the bigger and faster Anglo Kabardins, the best of which carry between 25 and 35 per cent Thoroughbred blood.
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 colour, has had a particularly strong effect on the breed. The Karabakh stands at about 1.42 m (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.
Both the Kabardin and Karabakh 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, i.e. cow- or sickle hocks, but which appears to be a necessary feature of the working mountain breeds.