Turkmenistan Is Actively Preparing for Multi-Dimensional Mountain Marathon - the Prologue of the Asian Games 2017
At the edge of the Karakum desert on the southern side stands the ridge Kopetdag, on a narrow strip from Bakharden to Artyk there stretches at its foothills the Ahal oasis - a native home to one of the most amazing breeds of horse, the oldest among the cultural ones – the Akhalteke. Its pedigree goes back to antiquity of the Central Asian oasis, the former greatness of Nisa. Exactly from here, on May 5th there starts one of the most ambitious and unique actions that precede the beginning of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held in Ashgabat in 2017. It continues 500 days and during that time 17 riders on thoroughbred Akhalteke horses will tour the whole country, visiting archaeological, natural monuments and architectural landmarks of modern Turkmenistan. Each of the five regions is given one hundred days for horse running. From Ahal velayat the riders, which number represents the year of holding the Asian Games, will travel to the Balkan velayat, and from there proceed to the north of the country to the Dashoguz velayat. Then - to Lebap, and further to Murgab oasis. Here in the super-giant "Galkynysh" gas field there will be lit the Olympic torch that will be taken by riders to Ashgabat by the start of the Games.
Conduction of large-scale action was initiated by the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on February 25th, at the meeting of the Organizing Committee of the V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. And from that moment several departments have got involved in its preparation activity - "Turkmen Atlary” State Association, State Committee of Turkmenistan on Sport, State Veterinary Service under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of Turkmenistan, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan and municipalities of the Turkmen capital and velayat centers.
Currently, preparations for the horse marathon have entered the active phase, and each department consistently solves the assigned task. It was agreed that the mileage for each of provinces will be conducted by local riders, passing the relay race to representatives of the following the expiration of one hundred travel days. Horse delegation when crossing the administrative boundaries of regions will be changed. Thus, each province organizes all related activities on-site. Horsemen will dress traditional don and telpek with elements and features of local traditions of the Turkmen national costume.
The task of "Turkmen Atlary" State Association is a selection of horses of Akhalteke breed in provinces that had been done in cooperation with administration and breeders of provinces. As was noted by the chief specialist of the department of the pedigree horse breeding, science and selection of the "Turkmen Atlary" State Association Parahat Hydyrov, participant of the held horse "casting", in order to qualitatively carry out such work and select the most endurable horses, the experts delegation on horse breeding of the State Association, has arrived on-site and personally inspected the horses. They are evaluated and selected in accordance with all existing parameters - health, age - from 3 to 8 years, etc. The priority remained for horses that had competition experience. The attention was paid also to appearance, constitution and conformation of horses. To date, 85 horses from state stables and among the candidates from private owners have been selected. These horses are transferred to a special regime of detention and dressage to make the most significant and long-lasting in the history of Turkmen horse breeding marathon, dedicated to the Asian Games-2017.
Specialist of the State Association also noted that the sporting potential of breed is high – it is enough to recall such "stars" of dressage as Absent, Arab and many others. Akhalteke horses rightfully own the first place in a number of purebred breeds, therefore, unique gene pool of the breed was taken care of undue cross-breeding. Today, scientists on horses continue to work on breeding of thoroughbred Akhalteke racers, due to which the interest to the breed has grown rapidly throughout the world.
Exterior of Akhalteke horse strikes with its beauty: these delicate, generous forms have been polished for thousands of years. Akhalteke horses are very swift and on racetrack are second only after thoroughbred racehorses, and at that the sprint qualities they are developed better than thoroughbreds. At the same time, at long-distance runs fragile in appearance Akhalteke horses demonstrate extraordinary endurance, easily tolerate thirst. The past daily marches equal to 150-200 km and more in 7-12 consecutive days were common for Turkmens: in this way they traveling through the desert from well to well. During legendary run in 1935, Turkmen horsemen covered the distance between Ashgabat and Moscow for 84 days, and waterless Karakum desert they have passed in three days. That is why we all look forward for start of this marathon - said P.Hydyrov.
As for the riders, the participants of the historic horse runs with rich cultural program have become young riders, who showed themselves in sport - national champions, winners of international competitions. All of them are not older than 25 years of age. The convoy will be escorted by medical and veterinary doctors, support services, media and cultural sphere.
But this all is in the near future, and now an active multidisciplinary work on technical and organizational preparation of the horses is going on. Riders work with horses, to become harmonious duets for a hundred days' journey. The classes include regular walks and jogs, taking care of horse. Racers try to spend as much time in the saddle, work hard on exercises on skilful management of horses, and not only in equestrian complexes, but in off-road conditions as well.
The history of horse runs of the Turkmen Akhalteke lasts for more than hundreds of years. In recent years, along with unprecedented measures undertaken to revive the Akhalteke horse breeding there were held equestrian events in the country, including horse marathons of various length timed to the Holiday of the Turkmen Horse. Huge experience in organizing, conducting and participation in such competitions have been accumulated within these years. According to State Association, by well-established tradition, lovers of Akhalteke horses await spectacular equestrian competition this year as well.
04.04.2016. Elena DOLGOVA