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Profile: Turkmenistan - The Land of Horse Heaven

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Emblem of TurkmenistanThe Day of the Race Horse is coming!

In Turkmenistan. It’s the last Sunday in April, April 28 this year. It’s a national holiday there.

Turkmenistan is widely regarded as one of the more corrupt and repressive nations of Central Asia; called by the New York Times “the North Korea of the former Soviet Union”. But not for oppression of its horses. In Turkmenistan, the odds are almost 100% that they are Akhal-Teke horses, the national breed that goes back to prehistoric times.

The Akhal-Teke is claimed to be the earliest domesticated breed of horse. Alexander the Great’s favorite battle charger Bucephalus (honored on a gold coin), which Alexander named a city after, was an Akhal-Teke. Alexander praised the Akhal-Teke for its hardiness, speed and stamina. See the Embassy of Turkmenistan’s website for an official description of the horse’s status.