The Karabakh horse is currently the national animal of Azerbaijan and is the official symbol of the Aghdam region in Karabakh. In 2004, a Karabakh horse named Kishmish from the Agdam region set two speed records: he ran 1,000 meters in 1 minute 9 seconds and 1,600 meters in 1 minute 52 seconds. The horse is a cross-breed of Akhal-Teke, Persian, Kabardin, Turkoman, and Arabian horses. Currently, there are less than 1,000 Karabakh horses in existence, meaning they are threatened by extinction. Named after the Azerbaijan region the horse was first developed, it is noted for its good temper, speed, sturdiness, expressive features, and well-developed muscles. The horse is not large, but measures on average between 145-150 centimeters. Characteristically, Karabakh horses are chestnut or bay with a golden tint. Less commonly, Karabakh horses can be gray or have white spots.
It was during the 18th and 19th centuries that the Karabakh horse acquired its current shape and characteristics. Evidence indicates that Khan Ibrahim-Khalil (1763-1806) possessed a large herd of horses numbering between 3,000-4,000, most of which were Karabakh horses. In the 19th century, the horse received growing acclaim in Europe and Russia. In 1823, an English company purchased 60 Karabakh Horses from the current Khan of Karabakh. The horse also received awards at several exhibitions. In 1867, a Karabakh horse received a silver medal at a international show in Paris. Then in 1869, Karabakh horses won the silver and bronze medals at the All-Russian exhibition.
Unfortunately, it was also during the 19th century that the number of Karabakh horses began to decline. This first occurred during the Russo-Iranian war in 1826. The population declined again during the 20th century due to civil and ethnic wars in the Caucasus and Karabakh region. Most recently, the numbers have declined due to the Nagorno-Karabakh war. In conjunction with the wars, the Karabakh breed was also inter-breed, decreasing its size and reducing the number of pure Karabakh horses.
CNN wrote about the tough, strong, noble and endangered Karabakh horse, with the help of the Chair of the Board Adil Baguirov.