Karabakh horse breed, which is one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, is a symbol of national heritage and pride of the Azerbaijani people.
Today there are more than 425 breeds of horses around the world, two of which appeared in Azerbaijan – the Karabakh and the Dilboz breed.
Karabakh horses with medium-size about 144-154 cm high at the withers, a neck of medium length, a small head, a deep and wide chest, and well-developed muscles, are energetic horses, as well as fast and agile.
In ancient times, Karabakh horses were distinguished by beauty and grace – apparently, for this reason in folklore and literature they were often compared with gazelles. They have a beautiful color. The color of the Karabakh breed can be red, buckthorn, brown, bay, gray or golden-red, which is also called the “golden glow”.
With its wonderful appearance and ease of temper, its eastern character and rare beauty, the Karabakh horse has been famed for its bright golden color.
These horses were the pride of the Karabakh khans’ stables, whose main advantages of are endurance and loyalty to the owner.
Different countries have long had their own kinds of games involving a horse, but the goal of each of them is to reveal among the participants the most powerful, clever, and most importantly, able to find the perfect mutual understanding with the horse.
In modern Azerbaijan, as well as in the entire culture of the peoples of the Caucasus, equestrian games are rightfully placed on an honorable place. In Azerbaijan, several unique equestrian games have arisen and are developing to this day, according to which various contests and competitions are held every year.
A traditional Karabakh horse-riding game in Azerbaijan – chovgan, which is an ancient form of modern polo, was included in the “List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding” at the 8th session held in Baku in 2013.
A documentary film “Sarylar – A journey to the Karabakh horses” shot by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and BP Azerbaijan, in partnership with Azerbaijanfilm and STUDIO TOR 1 Filmproduktion of Berlin in 2016, once again highlights the wider recognition of a unique breed of horses whose name is the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
Karabakh horses have repeatedly performed at the Royal Windsor horse show. In the grand finale to the Royal Windsor Horse Show, held on the grounds of Windsor Castle, a team of 15 Azerbaijani Karabakh horses and the famed Fikrat Amirov Azerbaijan State Song and Dance Ensemble performed in front of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. The whole extravaganza on 11-15 May 2016 was held to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.
The 15 Karabakh horses, whose performances had entranced the crowds throughout the pageant, clearly made an impression on the British Queen. As a renowned horse-lover, and an acknowledged expert in all matters equestrian, she was clearly appreciative of the beauty of the horses and the consummate skills of the riders. It was both pleasant and useful to remind the world of Azerbaijan’s rich cultural heritage.
As the glorious Azerbaijani Army, under the leadership of Azerbaijani President, Victorious Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Ilham Aliyev, liberated Karabakh – the historical Azerbaijani land from the almost 30-year-long Armenian occupation in 2020, a new era of restoration of cultural heritage was also ushered for the graceful Karabakh horses.
On July 2, 2021, the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan returned to Windsor with their new special performance “Khari Bulbul”, which is considered a symbol of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region and Shusha. The performance, choreographed specifically for Royal Windsor Horse Show, demonstrated the strength and bravery of the Karabakh horse, and the courage and peacefulness of the Azerbaijan people.
Among the special gifts presented to Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1956, was also the Karabakh horse “Zaman” who for the first time represented the ancient horse-breeding culture of Azerbaijan in Great Britain.
After the liberation of Shusha by the glorious Azerbaijani Army on November 8, 2020, the city that was declared the cultural capital of the country has hosted a serious of events on its famous plain called “Jidir duzu”, which used to be the main location for festivities and sporting events.
During the “Musical heritage and Karabakh horses on the Jidir Duzu” composition organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation in Shusha on June 15, 2021, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan was presented with a Karabakh horse “Zafar”, one of the oldest horse breeds, and a “Kharibulbul” composition.
The composition, which featured the traditional Azerbaijani dances accompanied by a spectacular performance of Karabakh horses of the Azerbaijan Equestrian Federation and the “Natig” rhythm group, showed that the longing of Karabakh horses has finally come to end.