Horses in Kyrgyzstan

Horses in Kyrgyzstan.

The ancients said, "A brilliant man suited in armour lives in a woman's heart; a saddled fiery horse lives in a man's heart".  

Horses are ‘the wings of the Kyrgyz', according to the ancient proverb. For 2,500 years this valuable beast has been at the hearts of nomadic people - a friend, worker and a source of food. It gave them supremacy over settled cultures, bestowing freedom, carrying yurts and people over the mountains, supplying meat, leather and milk for the national drink - kymyz. Kymyz is a mare's milk which stores in leather vessel (Saba) and allowed to ferment. It's a little sour.

Kyrgyz horses were small, hardy animals; they were able to travel over bare rocks and up steep slopes. They are ideal for travelling over the mountains countryside and enduring the extreme climatic conditions.  Kyrgyz horses tend to be light brown in color with black manes - but there are also grey, black and red horses. They were often named according to their names.

A herd consists of between 15 to 30 horses, one dominant stallion with about 15 mares and a number of young animals. When foals were born their ears or in the case of especially valuable horse - their nostrils were marked. It indicated the tribe, which the certain horse belonged to. They were also marked with a metal brand - the design was called "tamga".

For centuries horses and sheep formed the currency of exchange - used to buy goods, a wife or weapon. During the Silk Road times the Yssun khans had Celestial Horses. The khan was supposed to have his power forever if had a Celestial Horse. These horses were unlike the usual ones. These had long slim legs, very thing and long neck and prolonged muzzles. They eat few and could gallop and jump all over the whole day. They sweat with blood and their meat was sweet and pinkish.

All the Kyrgyz were horse riders. A boy was placed on the horse at already 3 or 4 years. Girls were also taught to ride a horse. Horses helped nomads to migrate from one place to another and to carry their houses yurts. It takes only 2 or 3 horses to carry dismantled yurt. A horse meat is not an ordinary food. Only on the holidays and on some spectacular occasions Kyrgyz cut a horse, for instance weddings, anniversaries or funerals. Horsemeat usually served to honorable guests - the choice of cut helped to define the status of the guest - the rump was given to the most honorable guests. It was considered to have curative value and was given to pregnant women and children to share their strength and wisdom.

A horse is a best friend of a warrior. A warrior could never get lost. His horse instinctively knew the way home, so he could let it go and follow. During the trip when a warrior's food stock was over he made an incision in his horse's leg, strained off some of its blood and boiled it on fire, then eat. This way a horse didn't let its master to starve.

When a warrior was terribly injured, a two-year old horse was cut and its guts were given to the wounded warrior to eat up, then the warrior was warped with still warm skin of a horse, and was left alone to have rest.

A lot of traditions and proverbs are connected with horses. There are a lot of occasions and celebrations, where the games connected with horses take place. In the games both man and women and boys and girls take part. These games in Kyrgyzstan are usually on exactness and dexterity. During the game one can see how much is the rider skilled in horse riding.

Ulan-Tartysh (literally "Goat snatching") is a game, similar to the American football but instead of a ball is the body of a sheep or a goat. The participant, who carries a body of a dead animal must attract the attention of a wolf, which is also let go to the field. And when a wolf approaches to the prey, the participant must beat it with a stick and throw it up so that the wolf falls and breaks its bones.

At Chabysh - popular horse racing. To watch these games with gleeful shouts and exclaims is to step back in time. The biggest and most exciting equestrian festival is the four-day At Chabysh Horse Festival, held in autumn each year, when thousands of Kyrgyz gather to reclaim their ancient heritage and celebrate their centuries-old culture.

Oo Darysh - The game for strong and self-confident people. This is a fight on horses. Two participants try to know each other down of the horse. They usually rub themselves with oil so that their bodies were smooth.

Kyz Kuumai - (literally "catch a girl") is a traditional game in which the young man has to catch up with the girl and kiss her while galloping. If he didn't manage, then the girl tries to do the same, but if she does, in stead of a kiss, she gives a man a slight kick with a whip which is called Kamcha.



Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!