At all times Karabakh has been famous for its special breed of black horses (“Karabakhian runners”, in common parlance called “karabakhi”), which were highly appreciated in the East, and in 19th century in Russia. Pushkin's poem "From Gafiza (the Camp at Euphrates)" is devoted to the officer of the mounted regiment of Karabakh who fought in the Russian army from 1826-1829.
"Do not be captivated by the abusive glory,
Oh, a handsome young man!
Do not rush yourself to the bloody fight
With the Karabakhian crowd!"
By many sources the Karabakhian racers were ranked at the same level with the Arabian breed and were appreciated along with Arabian and Akhal-Teke breeds. They cost considerable money and were not available for even the most solvent men. The "Karabakhtsi" was given as a present to imperial persons, and Karabakhian "Zaman" was presented to the Queen of England in 1956.
Since the 17th and 18th centuries horse breeding in Europe has utilized the Karabakhian breed, which came to exist much earlier as a result of natural interbreeding.
The Karabakhian horse has small size, on average no taller than 150 cm, with well-developed muscles, a deep wide breast and strong legs. The head looks out proudly: the forehead is high and its bulging eyes burn with fire. It is not surprising that the racer moves quickly and precisely. The horses are usually of red and golden-red coloration; in Karabakh called "Narindj" (Orange). It seems that the vigorous and restless coloring itself characterizes the temperament of the horse.
In the middle of the 19th century in Karabakh there were 11 steed-farms, which were owned by local meliks (princes), including the glorified Russian military leader, prince Valerian Madatov (Madatyan). In Madatov's farm there wеre about 200 horses.
Twice a year in Shoushi on a hippodrome in the Jdrdyuz glade, horse races took place, in which the best equestrians of the Caucasus participated. In the beginning of the 20th century horse breeding in Karabakh came to naught, the steed-farm stopped working, and the breed "Narindj" (Orange), having been mixed with usual breeds, assimilated. It did keep some characteristic features, in particular its bronze coloring.
In 1949 Karabakh people started to go for horse breeding again, when in Low Karabakh a new steed-farm was opened. In that farm the racers of the most widespread breeds were collected, however by the time of its opening there was only one racer of the Karabakhian breed called “the Sultan”. The farm was destroyed during military actions in 1993, and many of the racers have dispersed to the surrounding areas.
Today in Karabakh a group of enthusiasts breeds the Karabakh racers in some insignificant quantity in Kirsavan village in the Shoushi region, on the picturesque slopes of the Kirs mountain. About 50 “Karabakhtsi”-s are in the steed-farm factories of Europe.
The Karabakhian racers participated in agricultural exhibitions in Moscow in 1869 and in Tbilisi in 1882, where they were awarded with gold medals and certificates of honor. And in 1866, 1867, 1869, 1897 the Karabakhian racers were presented in world exhibitions, where they also received high awards.