The Karachai horse is a rare breed that originates from the Caucasus Mountains.

They are known for their strength, agility and stamina, and make excellent work horses.

If you’re thinking of adding a Karachai horse to your herd, here’s everything you need to know about them.

Karachai Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Karachai:

Height (size) 14.3 – 15.0 hands high
Colors Black or brown, with minimal white markings
Country of Origin Russia
Common Uses Equestrian tourism, mountain riding horse in packing tours, leisure riding, sports, transportation, milk and meat production

Karachai Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The Karachay horse has been bred for around seven centuries in the Russian north-western Caucasus Mountains.

It is named after the Karachay people, who raised it and lived in these mountains until 1943, when they were forcibly removed to Central Asia.

Since then, they have returned to their original homeland (now part of Russia and officially known as the Karachay-Cherkess Republic) and they have been reunited with their horses, which play an important role in their culture and way of life.

Originally, the Caucasian mountain horse was a crude breed created by crossing the Kabarda with various types of steppe horses from different parts of the Caucasus.

Natural selection combined with human demands resulted in the development of a horse that is powerful, agile, sure-footed, obedient, and exceptionally tough.

By the time the 19th century came to a close, some Karachay horse breeders had as many as 500 to 1,000 horses, and around 10,000 Karachay horses were sold to the military each year.

These excellent cavalry horses showed remarkable bravery and endurance in battle.

Following the end of the Russo-Japanese war in 1905, three soldiers rode their Karachays over 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) to return home!

Russia made many concerted attempts in the early 20th century to maintain and enhance the breed, establishing a number of state-run stud farms.

In the immediate years after World War I, attempts were made to use the Karachai for military and agricultural work, and as a result, selective breeding became common practice.

In 1935, the first stud book was established for Karachai and other mountain horse breeds.

However, once the Karachay people were removed from their homeland in 1943, the horses were merged with another native breed known as the Kabarda.

This shift led to careless breeding practices that threatened the survival of the Karachai horse, but luckily the government and a few knowledgeable horsemen worked tirelessly to protect them.

Another upside was that the majority of the stallions that were available for breeding during this time period were Karachays.

As a result, even when the two breeds were formally divided in the 1980s, Karachay horses’ bloodlines included less than 2% Kabarda blood.

A breed standard for the Karachai horse was set in the 1980s.

This helped to reestablish the Karachai as a separate breed from the Kabarda.

Today we recognize three distinct subtypes of Karachai horses: the basic, saddle, and massive Karachai.

The most common is the basic type, and it is a mountain riding horse that is used on packing trips as well as for leisure riding.

The Karachai, a saddle-type horse of Thoroughbred ancestry, is used largely for sports and cross-breeding with other Caucasian horse breeds.

The massive type is smaller and mostly used for transportation.

Today, the breed is famous not only in its native region, but also in studs located across Europe.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names

“Karachay horse”


Good-natured, intelligent, brave

Physical Characteristics

The head is long with a Roman nose.

The neck is muscular and of average length.

The shoulders are somewhat sloped, and the chest is wide and deep.

The back is straight, and the croup is well-developed.

The legs often have somewhat flawed pasterns, but the strong hooves compensate for that shortcoming.

They are very hardy and resilient, and have a high fertility rate.


Black or brown, with minimal white markings

Height (size)

14.3 – 15.0 hands high







Blood Type


Common Uses

Equestrian tourism, mountain riding horse in packing tours, leisure riding, sports, transportation, milk and meat production


Strong resistance to illnesses

Popular Traits

Extremely tough



Country of Origin



Steppe horses from the Caucasus Mountains