The Akhal Teke – Incredible Horses, Incredible Tales
Occasionally, I go “off topic” from my blog to bring a piece of important info to friends or colleagues.
For some inexplicable reason, I never knew of the Akhal Teke breed of horse until just a couple of days past. I discovered a close friend had been instrumental in freeing an undeserving prisoner from one of the most notorious and brutal gulags in the world, located in Central Asia, in the country known today as Turkmenistan. The man, Geldy Kyarizov (picturerd) had been imprisoned when exposing the Turkmen government’s cross breeding program of Akhal Teke horses.
I share this story because
- I love horses (if you couldn’t tell) and ride endurance horses
- The story of the Akhal Teke horse is profound and incredible.
- I tell the story here to not clog up the American Endurance Ride Conference’s (“AERC”) Facebook Page. My hope is my endurance riding friends check this out and come to appreciate that the Akhal Teke horse could be a significant contender in endurance riding.
A Very Brief History – The Akhal Teke Horse
The words of my friend, follow.
Start Discussion (from my friend)
The horses today known as Akhal Teke were famed in the ancient world as being the fastest horses alive.
In 1414 the Chinese emperor sent a diplomatic mission to Central Asia to attempt to obtain these rare, fast horses for the Han empire.
By the 19th century the Akhal Teke horses were used by Central Asian tribesmen intent on profiting from slave raids into Persia. The Akhal Tekes horses were kept constantly wrapped in thick felt
blankets. They were fed a special diet, including balls of mutton fat and barley. The result of this training method were horses that could gallop two hundred miles into Persia, have a captive woman thrown across the cantle, then race home to safety.
After the Czar conquered Central Asia, the Russians became fascinated with Akhal Teke horses. They were highly prized, until Stalin came to power, at which time all animals larger than a chicken were seized by the state.
In 1935 a small group of Turkmens rode their Akhal Teke horses 2,500 miles from Ashgabat to Moscow in 84 days, to petition Stalin to save the breed. The ride worked.
When the Soviet Union conquered Nazi Germany, the victorious Russian General Zhukov rode an Akhal Teke stallion in the parade through Red Square.
Geldy Kyarizov – A Hero of the Akhal Teke
By the late 1980s, as the Soviet Union was beginning to implode, one man, Geldy Kyarizov, decided to re-create the 1935 journey to draw attention to the breed. He too rode to Moscow.
When the new country of Turkmenistan was created, the Akhal Teke breed was known and respected, but hardly seen outside the Central Asian country.
The new government put Geldy in charge of promoting the breed world wide. Geldy’s stallion was chosen to appear on the nation’s national logo. He was respected around the world as being one of the most knowledgeable Akhal Teke experts in history.
Turkmenistan was ruled by a ruthless megalomaniac and political tyrant. When Geldy learned that Thoroughbreds were being secretly bred to Akhal Tekes, he used DNA evidence to prove the ancient
breed was being tampered with by the government.
In response, Geldy was arrested, tortured, put on a show trial, and then jailed. His family suffered intense poverty. His stables were destroyed. His horses were starved.
An international effort was made to obtain Geldy’s release but to no avail. For thirteen years he and his family suffered with Geldy remaining imprisoned.
In 2014, after every type of diplomatic and government agency had failed, an Akhal Teke breeder, residing in England, wrote to The Longriders’ Guild as a last resort. When it was learned that Geldy qualified to be listed as a Member of the Guild, the Guild engaged several steps to cause his release.
End Discussion (from my friend)
How Geldy was Rescued by The Longriders’ Guild
This link to The Longriders’ Guild describes how the Guild rescued Geldy and his family from tyranny. And it delves more thoroughly into the history of the Akhal Teke horses.
More Historical Background on the Akhal Teke Horse
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