Friday, December 28, 2018

DAY 25: The Kinsky Horse

Equus Kinsky
Charles Kinsky, as he was known in England, was heir to vast estates throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire when Jennie first met him in 1883. Although at age 25 Charles was known in London primarily as a sportsman and diplomat, he would one day be the eighth Prince Kinsky, latest in a noble line stretching back to the twelfth century. His house's fortunes had multiplied throughout successive centuries of warfare and power in Central Europe. But they were founded on the backs on one thing in particular--horses.

Chateau Karlova Koruna, Chlumec, Czech Republic

The Kinskys rose to prominence as breeders of perhaps the most famous horse stud in Central Europe--the Equus Kinsky. A palomino with a curiously metallic sheen to its hide that made it seem to be fashioned from gold, the Kinsky Horse was the official cavalry mount of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by 1723.  

During Charles's time in Victorian London, the princely line of the family was better known for its political power and diplomatic careers (although his mother, Princess Marie of Lichtenstein und Kinsky, was acknowledged as one of the finest horsewomen in Europe.) But a lateral family branch based near the Kinsky estate in Chlumec, Chateau Karlova Koruna, perfected the breeding program throughout the 19th century. Count Oktavian Kinsky, one of the most famous horsemen of the period, established the Equus Kinsky studbook in 1838 in Chlumec and oversaw the breeding program throughout his long life.

Of course, Charles himself was famous in 1883 for having won the Grand National Steeplechase on a mare named Zoedone--an English-bred filly from a farm near Exeter, that Charles bought after watching her hunt in the field with the Melton pack. (Some historians erroneously report that Zoedone was an Equus Kinsky brought over from Bohemia, but this is incorrect.)

When the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia following World War II, Soviet authorities seized the Kinsky estate at Chlumec and the entire herd of horses, ending family control of the stud until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Today, there are less than 1000 Kinsky horses registered in the world; but the Czech Republic has recognized its significance as a historic and national treasure. 

They even put one on a postage stamp.

For more images from THAT CHURCHILL WOMAN, visit the  Pinterest board behind the novel. 

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