The Kabardin horse is one of the few breeds adapted to some of the harshest mountainous terrains in the Caucasus. The Kabardin is the king of the mountain, displaying a strong and muscular physique and excellent endurance and strength.
Its history speaks volumes about this breed’s resilience and importance in the region.
History and Origin
While the Kabardin horse appeared on the map during the 16th century, many experts believe that the breed’s origins date back thousands of years prior. Its genetic makeup shows traces of Akhal-Teke, Arabian purebred, Bonje, Dansuza, Atlase, and others.
The horse’s name comes from the Kabarda region, where Mongolians bred the horse in purebred form after the influx of the different breeds during the trading era.
This shows that the Kabardin horse is a mix of various exotic breeds, each bringing something different to its gene pool. The breed comes with a great physique, well-developed musculature, straight shoulders, and slightly concave loins.
These characteristics make for the physical makeup of a horse expert in endurance and traversing rugged terrain rather than one built for speed. Another aspect that separates the Kabardin horse from other breeds is its heart and lung development. Kabardin horses have stronger hearts and lungs, allowing them to perform better in the mountainous areas where oxygen is at lower concentrations.
The Kabardin horse bears all the signs of a typical Asian horse. These include the alert and highly mobile ears, the expressive and shiny eyes, and the rich mane and tail. The breed itself is divided into three main subtypes:
- Basic or standard – The typical mountainous horse is predominant in the Caucasus region, especially among feral herds.
- Oriental – A breed showing typical Asian features and temperament, mixing Arabian and Oriental influences. Some of these characteristics include the hotter temperament, a tinner and more vascular skin, and smoother and skinnier legs.
- Massive – Just like the name suggests, the Massive breed shows members with longer and more muscular bodies, more adapted to traversing harsh terrains. This breed is overall more powerful with great stamina and endurance.
– Size and Height
The Kabardin horse stands at 57 to 61 inches tall (about 14.1 to 15.1 hands). Its medium-sized body, combined with its natural strength and stamina, makes it ideal for the difficult terrain in mountainous areas.
The Kabardin is light for its body type, reaching around 900 lbs. This weight makes sense for a horse that’s used to traverse rock-filled, rugged terrain over long distances. It’s also the result of living in an unforgiving environment, where the food isn’t too easy to find.
The Kabardin comes in gray, black, and bay. The lack of color diversity is prevalent among Kabardin herds, most likely the result of limited influences from other breeds. After all, the Kabardin breed has remained purebred since the 16th century, well-preserved in the Caucasus region.
While the Kabardin horse can reach or even exceed the standard 25 mph, speed is not its strength. The mountainous terrain in the Caucasus region doesn’t offer too many opportunities for speed. Instead, the horse is more used to traveling over long distances, tackling rough and rocky terrain along the way.
These types of journeys demand more stamina and endurance than anything else. However, don’t let this fool you since the Kabardin is more than capable of outputting impressive speeds, should the situation require it. It’s why the breed is sometimes present in sports events where speed is the main attraction.
Three underlying behavioral characteristics define the Kabardin horse:
- Calmness – The horse is used to remaining calm under pressure.
- Adaptability – This is its most important characteristic, showing that the horse is flexible and intelligent.
- Energetic and lively – Higher energy levels are necessary to living in a demanding environment like the Caucasus mountains, and the Kabardin horse has plenty of it.
The Kabardin horse lives between 20 and 35 years, with slight variations on each end. This lifespan is typical for a horse living a balanced life with no major health issues, plenty of food, and no injuries, infections, or significant predator encounters over the years. Kabardin horses also tend to live longer while in herds, as this is their preferred way of living.
Diet and Nutrition
Hay, grain, grass, and everything else most horses consume. It’s also worthy of mentioning that the horse doesn’t need too much food supplementation.
The Kabardin horse doesn’t require any special grooming tactics. Just make sure you have your standard grooming kit available, and everything should be fine. The horse will most likely need extra attention with the hoofs since running around the mountainous terrain increases the risk of pebbles hurting them.
The Kabardin horse is mainly fit for endurance races, general riding, and working, with little uses for speed or gait display.
There are few to no Kabardin horses for sale since the breed’s specifics don’t get too much traction among horse lovers. If you do find one to buy, it most likely won’t go beyond several thousand dollars.
The Kabardin breed has no relevant health issues. This is a strong horse, evolved for dealing with harsh environments and will few-to-no genetic weaknesses. Like any other horse, however, it demands regular veterinary check-ups to prevent any health problems along the way.
The latest population count shows around 10,000 to 12,000 Kabardin horses around the world. Most of them live in the Caucasus region in feral herds, with several domesticated, mostly for household use.
The Kabardin horse is a unique mix of multiple breeds, some of them coming with rich cultural values and genetic pools. Although it’s not as popular as other breeds, the Kabardin horse still has its place in the equine market.
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