Kabarda, or Kabardin, horse is from the Caucasus, currently
part of the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia and Georgia. They have been
known for at least 400 years, but their origins are probably as old as the
Hittite civilization. They are noted for their endurance and ease to adapt in
Kabardas have been bred since the 16th century by mountain
tribesmen in the northern Caucasus, and are the product of centuries of
selective breeding for the ability to survive in harsh conditions. They were
formed from a combination of steppe, Karabakh, Arabian, and Turkmenian horses.
They are usually kept in herds, and are moved between mountain pastures in the
summer and foothills areas in the winter.
Kabarda horse has been bred for stony and mountainous
terrain. They are usually fast and have good endurance. They are often used as
a sport horse outside of Russia, and for the creation and improvement of other
breeds, such as the Anglo-Kabarda, the Tersky, and native stock in Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Georgia. Although they are mainly used as a saddle horse, they
have work well in harness and as a pack horse. The mountain tribesmen of the
Caucasus make hay on steep slopes by hitching Kabardas to horse-drawn mowers.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Count Stroganov began
a program of crossing Kabardas horses with Arabians, and the results were
considered satisfactory. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, the numbers of
Kabarda were hugely reduced, and during the 1920s efforts were made to
re-establish the breed. Between 1935 and 1953, the purebred population averaged
446 stallions and 3272 mares. During the early half of the twentieth century, a
new breed, called the Anglo-Kabarda was formed by crossing Kabardas with
Thoroughbreds, and in 1966 the new breed was recognized. By the late 1980s the
number of purebred Kabarda breeding mares had dropped to between 400 and 450,
concentrated mainly at the Malokarachaevski and Malkinski studs and other
breeding farms in the Kabardino-Balkaria region, including the Krasny Partizan
collective farm in the Stavropol territory.
Kabarda horses stand 14.1 to 15.1 hands high, with a bay,
black, or gray coat. They are a solid, cleanly built horse with a clean head, a
well-muscled neck, medium-high withers, a deep chest, long, sloping shoulders,
a short, solid back, and a muscular, slightly sloping croup. Their legs are
correctly set, with clean, well-developed joints and hard hooves. The Kabardas'
blood has a heightened oxidizing capacity, useful for work high in the
mountains. The breed also is an easy keeper, that is, it has a tendency to
accumulate fat quickly, which helps when the horses are exposed to extreme
conditions on a regular basis, but can be a hardship for owners when the horses
are kept stabled.
There are three main subtypes of the Kabarda breed:
- Basic type - This is the predominant type, a typical
mountain riding horse that is rangy but well-muscled.
- Oriental type - This type shows a more Arabian influence,
with smaller heads, very clean legs, thinner skins, and hotter temperaments.
- Massive type - This type is bigger, with a more robust bone
structure similar to a typical carriage horse.
In recent years, Kabardas bred in the Karachai republic
began to be referred to as the Karachai breed. These horses are generally of
the massive type described above.