kyrgyz Horse

Horses of Kyrgyzstan

The word “At” is translated from the Kyrgyz language in three different meanings: “Horse”, “Name”,  and “Shoot”. Children in Kyrgyz villages first sit to the horse when they learn to walk. Horse meat dishes and horse milk are obligatory in all the big Kyrgyz celebrations and parties. 

A horse is a friend, a horse is food and the horse is a national symbol and a major part of the culture of Kyrgyz people. 

Horses have played an important role in the history and culture of Kyrgyz people. As nomads and living in the mountains as well as on the steppes, horses assist Kyrgyz people in many ways. Horses were used to ride, to shepherd, to travel long distances, to hunt wild animals, in wars, in horse games and races and are even used as nourishment. 

From the old times all the way to our era, they have dominated the social, spiritual and economic life of Kyrgyz people and you cannot really avoid seeing them if you step outside Bishkek and not always inside Bishkek either.

Horse mirrored from the surface of the Son Kul lake
Kyrgyz horsemen

Kyrgyz horses are well adapted into the harsh climate and terrain of the region. Throughout the wars of history, horses were especially significant, it was believed that the invincible army of Genghis Khan was so successful thanks to the horses. Even after the death of a warrior, his body and horse were indivisible so they were often buried together. Horses were also used as payment for the bride during the matchmaking and stealing a horse was punishable by death.

Horses are still used in herding the animals in the mountains and valleys and also sometimes for transportation purposes in the rural areas of Kyrgyzstan. Horse games are also a popular yet dangerous sport in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz horse foods

In Kyrgyzstan one will surely face some meat foods made from the horse meat and the most famous one is the chuchuk (kazy), which is a horse sausage. There are also foods made from the horse milk that are not always for the taste of a foreigner but one should not judge before at least trying. 

More information on the Kyrgyz horse foods and other Kyrgyz foods can be found from our Kyrgyz cuisine page.

women milking mare

Kyrgyz horse games

Horse games are a lively part of Kyrgyz culture and many types of them are organized through out the country and some of the even in international level. More information on horse games can be found in our Horse Games page.

Horse riding tours in Kyrgyzstan

Best places to see Kyrgyz horses

Page updated 31.1.2021

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