Heavenly Horses on Parade

The Turkmen president, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, is launching an annual national show for the famous Akhal Teke horses, says the BBC.

Turkmenistan is the only former Soviet state in Central Asia where eating horse meat is strictly taboo.

The national competition will also include an award for the best carpet featuring the horse, the best “holiday attire” for the breed, the best portrait and the best scupture.

In 2004, the country’s former president, Saparmurat Niyazov, opened a $20m (£12m) leisure centre for horses, complete with swimming pool, air conditioning and medical facilities.

Akhal Tekes are best known for their extraordinary metallic coats, which some believe provided a kind of shimmering camouflage in the deserts of Turkmenistan. There are only 3,500 in the world, and while they’re best known as endurance horses, but can also be talented dressage horses. The Portuguese classical dressage master, Nuno Oliveira, began training Akhal Tekes in the last six years of his life and one stallion, Absent, won two Olympic golds with Russian riders in the 1960s:

I can’t help wishing we had someone here  championing Akhal Tekes  in the competitive dressage ring once more (and more Andalusians and Lusitanos and Lipizzaners and and and). I’m not convinced that the generic Warmblood is “the only” type that can or should tackle Grand Prix, and damn, wouldn’t it make it more interesting to see different breeds show what dressage is truly about?

Published by Susanna Forrest

Writer Amazons of Paris, The Age of the Horse and If Wishes Were Horses.

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  1. I entirely agree – the warmblood appears to be taking over the world, rather like the efficient large white pig or Rhode Island Red hybrid chicken. Does the job, but removes romance and individuality.

  2. The warmblood was bred for light agricultural work, not primarilly for riding; it was the type of horse that pulled carts with hay and straw, went to the market, and was only occasionally mounted to hunt or take the young farmer son to the village dance. It is a bit front heavy. Iberians, Arabs, Akhals, Lippizaners etc. were for riding and have more of a ‘right to do dressage’ than warmbloods. That’s my view and I’m sticking to it – despite the funny looks I get :-)

  3. Very apt comparison, Jane!

    Sabina – someone at Horse and Hound Online pointed out that Dutch Warmbloods had some hackney ancestry in the mix, and wondered if Totilas was a throwback :)

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