Armenian Ayrutsi

Armenia has been known for it’s horse breeding and exceptional cavalry since long before the birth of Christ. The Ayrutsi (Ayr meaning man and tsi meaning horse) was a special cavalry unit under the patronage of the Armenian royal family and a mighty weapon against the enemy. Under the rule of King Arshak II and King Pap (350-371), the unit consisted of over 120,000 horsemen. Riding schools around the Van area and Varaka Mountains enjoyed great fame. Xenophon (430-355 BC) testifies to the large scale of horse breeding in Armenia. In Anabasis he writes that horses were bred in Armenia for the Persian King, and that “the horses here (in Armenia) are a bit smaller than those in Persia but they are much more spirited (feisty). While, according to Strabo (I century BC), the rulers of Armenia used to send 20,000 foals annually to Persia for the strengthening of the Persian Empire. To this day, Armenian horses are amazing creatures to behold, especially in the wild.

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