Armenian Mountain Horses

Armenians have been one of the first nations to tame and breed horses. Armenian horse is one of the most ancient strains of horses in the world.

Numerous notes and literature sources contain evidence about the significance of horses to Armenian people. Horses have been used in cavalry, hunting, and as means of transportation.

In particular, cavalry have had big impact on the outcome of many battles and wars. Horse has always been considered the smartest and most noble animal, a true friend, assistant, and a battle comrade. For Armenians horses have been animals from God.

Armenia has been a major exporter of horses in Near East. The Great Silk Road has been a passageway in Armenia’s trade which has been conducted with Rome, Pontus, the Bosporan Kingdom, Egypt, Persia, India, and even China.

Horse breeding was under Armenian government’s guardianship, namely the Amatuni dynasty. They have been bred only in regions of Sharur, Ardahan, mountains Sukhavet, Shatik, Yeghpark, Sharian, which belonged to Amatunis.

Armenian horse breeding has been very successful in the military field in particular. Armenian cavalry, which has been called ayrudzi (Armenian: Այրուձի, man and horse), has been considered the most potent Asian cavalry. Horses for the cavalry have been bred in Andzit, Tman, Arest, Tukhark, Ger, Kryakun, Kovsakan.

Greco-Roman poet Oppian defined an ideal horse for hunting which is very similar to the image of perfect cavalry developed by ancient Greek philosopher, historian, soldier Xenophon.

Oppian considered ideal Armenian, Tyrrhenian, Achaean, and Cappadocian horse (a hybrid of Armenian and Phrygian breeds) breeds, which have been fed near Taurus.

Strabo praised Armenian pastures after cavalry of Greek port Nisaea pastured there. Xenophon noted that Armenian horses have been temperamental. Timotheus of Gaza described Armenian horses as large, lively, square-built, having somewhat distorted profile of the muzzle.

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