Since ancient times, Strabo, in one of his works, writing about Artsakh, which is part of the Great Armenia, noted that this place had indescribable and restless horses. The Artsakh horse was considered the pride of the Armenian Highlands, the most beautiful, the most noble and the most slender breed.

The Artsakh horse was considered the best rider in the Armenian Eyroudzi. They were ridden by the meliks, not only princely, but also representatives of the royal dynasty. The Greek geographer Strabo (1st century BC – 1st century BC) mentions in his works that Artsakh used to field large numbers of cavalry during wars.



The Artsakh steed was created over the centuries (starting from the middle of the 12th-13th centuries) by the Meliks of Artsakh through long-term and purposeful selection of the local horse. It does not exceed 150 centimeters in size. It has well developed muscles, strong legs, broad chest and fiery eyes. Artsakh horses are extremely energetic, move very quickly and clearly.

Like a real Artsakh citizen, they carry the spirit of the land, moving clearly and quickly.

Horses with a distinctive orange hue were common. These horses were called “Orange”. With their beautiful structure and appearance, they have seduced many kings and queens and become the main characters of many novelists and poets. Many sculptures of Artsakh horses can be found in the khachkars of the 12th-13th centuries of Artsakh.


Especially in the 19th century, the Artsakh steed represented a very high value in the East and the Russian Empire. Exported to various countries including Iran, France, Poland. Thanks to their high qualities, these horses were quite expensive, and not everyone could afford to buy an Artsakh horse.


Zartak was the accepted name for the main color of the Artsakh horse and meant yellowish or yellow-gold. An anonymous Georgian historian of the 3rd century reports that the Georgian king David Soslan bought an Artsakh Zartak horse from Khacheni Vakhtang prince and paid for it one castle and one village.

In 1956, the Artsakh horse “Zaman” was presented to the Queen of England. Since the 17th-18th centuries, Karabakh horses have been used in European countries to obtain new breeds of horses through natural mating.


In the 19th century, there were 12 horse farms in Artsakh. They were controlled by local emirs. Horse breeding was so developed that a horse race was organized twice a year in the city of Shushi, in which the best horsemen of the South Caucasus came to participate. The horse race was held in a meadow called “Jdrduz”.

Unfortunately, since the 20th century, horse breeding in Artsakh began to decline. Along with the disintegration of livestock, the Artsakh horse began to disappear. Due to the neglect of horse breeding, the “Orange” breed was mixed with ordinary breeds. They managed to keep only the bronze color.

In 1949, a new horse farm was established. It seemed that it would create a new opportunity to develop horse breeding, but the Artsakh war came. During the war, the farm was destroyed and many of the horses scattered around the area. Many people have dealt with the issue of restoring the genetic potential of the Artsakh steed, but the work that was always started as a result of war operations has remained incomplete.


The gene of the Artsakh steed has not disappeared, as many people think. It is around us, we need to collect it and give it life again. Genes, whether in humans or animals, do not disappear quickly. they remain for hundreds of years and change only every 50 generations. Therefore, the necessary individual examples of the local selection of the Karabakh stallion can always be searched for and found both in Artsakh and in neighboring countries,” wrote Edurad Gasparyan, who is a candidate of veterinary sciences and in 2011 published “Horse breeding in Artsakh-Karabakh yesterday and today ” work.

A stamp with the image of an Artsakh steed, 2004.

The article was compiled based on observations and materials collected by the ArmLand club.

Author of photos: Artyom Martirosyan