Stud-farm owner lauds stamina of horse breed

Updated: 2014-05-13 07:23

By Zhao Yanrong (China Daily)

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For nearly three decades, Wang Jiyu has been looking after more than 100 horses in Beijing, but one horse in particular stands out as his favorite. That horse, an Akhal-Teke, was called "Duti" (special hoofs).

"I had two Akhal-Tekes in 1985, when I opened one of China's first riding clubs and stud farms in Beijing, and one of them was Duti. Its endurance and stamina were phenomenal," said Wang, a member of the China Horse Industry Association, as well as a renowned horse riding expert.

Wang said 90 kilometers would be the distance limit for most horses. But his Akhal-Teke horses, especially Duti, were able to cover nearly 90 km with ease.

But the horses, which each have their own characteristics, were not easy to train, and Wang was the only person who could ride and control Duti.

Originally from Turkmenistan, Alkhal-Teke horses are a national treasure and an emblem of the Central Asian country. Their image graces the currency of Turkmenistan.

But China, too, shows its appreciation for the horse as it also represents the tourism industry. Indeed, the symbol of the industry is the bronze statue of a "Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow" from the East Han Dynasty about 2,000 years ago, which was unearthed in Wuwei, southwestern China's Gansu province.

The gracefully treading horse is, naturally, an Alkhal-Teke.

"With a golden buckskin, Akhal-Teke horses look incredibly beautiful. You can imagine a golden horse galloping, with its strong muscles powering its movement, seemingly floating on air. Every time I saw Duti gallop, I was amazed! " Wang said.

China has a long history and tradition of horse trading with Central Asia, and the nation has learned the skills needed to discern equine qualities and how to feed and train horses from Central Asian countries like Turkmenistan, he added.

"Sending their national treasure - the golden horse - to China as a gift, not only means good wishes from Turkmenistan but also indicates a glowing future for the two countries' friendship. This is the Year of Horse in China, and we Chinese horse lovers are delighted to see more exchanges with our good friends," Wang added.

There are more than 300 Alkhal-Tekes in China, according to a report from the China Horse Industry Association, released in April, based on a survey of 41 stud farms from 12 provinces.

Wang Zhenshan, a specialist from the horse association, has seen a shift in recent years.

"The number of Alkhal-Tekes has been increasing dramatically, particularly regarding the high-quality ones. China has formed the basis for a sustainable breeding population."

The horses can cost up to $10 million in China and the price has been going up globally in recent years, while prices for European horses have fallen, he said.

(China Daily 05/13/2014 page1)