Today is the horse grading. Mr. Kilmuk, Nadja Terasova and Clara de Vos van Steenwijk are the judges, I took it upon myself to photograph and film.
Every horse gets evaluated by all 3 judges individually, score sheets are collected, points are calculated by a team, and the results are announced.
At first the whole class enters the ring, and then they come in one by one to be graded.
The day started with Turkmen dancing and music.
Foals and mares were graded first, and classes worked up in years.
Like every morning, drinking coffee in my office and reading the morning emails...appears an email from Iran! To all the board members of the American Akhal-Teke Association, we are invited to come to Tehran for their first Turkoman horse Festivale!
Only Cathy and I replied we were delighted to come, but in the end, because I am still a Dutch citizen, I was the only person they could get a visa for.
Tickets bought, and receiving the email with the official letter that visa's would be granted only the afternoon before leaving...I arrived in Tehran at 2 am in the morning. I was greeted by out lovely guide for the next 4 days, taken to the hotel and slept a little. That morning Shohreh picked me up, by then Calra de Vos van Steenwijk from the Netherlands had arrived as well, and we went to the race track.
They were setting up for the horse grading the following day.
We discussed the set up, Alexander Kilmuk and Nadja Taressova were flying in this night to be the grading judges including Clara, so I became the photographer.
Our biggest difficulty was the fact that every class was of mixed breed...some with more AT blood than others, and some seemed pure Yomud. They asked us to grade with the emphasis on the AT.
We walked the stables of the race course, there are Iranian TB, Iranian Arabs and Yomud horses in the stables.
It was nice to see how the horses were walked for long time around the track, ponying another to maximize time. Hay seemed of very good quality. And most horses had layers of blankets wrapped on quite tight.
Born in the early morning of June 16, this filly is our latest addition.
Her name, Ak Hadysa means "white phenomenon" in Turkmen.
Her sire is Kambarbay and her dam is Ahlie rhatan.
Our hotel gave us the best exchange rate. Armed with manates to the markets we went! Personally I love going to the fabric store, they have fabulous material that is great for a photo shoot background, or table cloth, put over a hay bale for a jump....
Walking down the isles looking for pieces to make horse jewelry is never ending fun. The hotels have great gift stores and the carpet stores are just amazing.
As long as you put your wool in the freezer once you are home, the moth are fluttering in every corner of the city it seems.
The spices and nuts and dried fruit are to die for.
Turkmen saffron is dirt cheap, Iranian is still cheap by our standards.
Then there is the walk back till you find a good spot to hitch hike your way back to the hotel.
Eating is a big deal in our family, and since my husband has never been,...here's the scoop!
breakfast in our deluxe hotel Yulduz was very worldly with a buffet that has cereal to hot items including pizza.
in previous hotels less star rated we would have more traditional breakfasts like a kind of oatmeal that was so delicious I miss it...the eggs on the other hand taste and look just like our hens eggs at hone who run around free all day and eat a variety of seeds and insects.
Lunch is the big meal of the day. Everyday we would have lunch in a ballroom size room, tables already set with different salads, a plate of greens,tomatoes and hebs and a type of mild feta cheese, breads and a plate of desserts.
After eating salads you get a bowl of clear broth soup with potato and mutton, then the plov is served, rice and carrots and mutton very nicely spiced.
To end with a little dish of ice cream.
The last Sunday in April came early this year. It is the opening day for the Spring races. The front of the stadium is decorated, carpets laid out, dancers in place, students line the streets flag in hand to welcome the president while singers sing!
The winners of the horse races get a new car, same for the jumpers and endurance riders.
This was the day of the beauty contest. The horses and handlers are all dressed up and looking fabulous!
And the president of Turkmenistan rides a stallion and makes it rear for the crowd....
Seriously...America could learn something here...maybe the elections should be won by how pretty your rear was...
There also was a Turkmen wedding, the procession was huge, horse riders, a crowd, and a camel with the bride, the president declared them wed and the groom took the bride on a horse and they rode off together!
On Friday we started the day with the opening of a new housing development behind the big race track facility just outside Ashgabat. There were beautiful dances performed, every year the costumes are more eye catching. After the president went trough we could walk around and go inside to have a look if we wanted.
After a while we started to wander towards the race track and visited stallions in the barn and then came upon the mares and foals!
Show jumping was on the agenda today! It is not a national sport here, in fact no one jumps except a hand full of people. Last year did not go well and the Asian games are coming up.
At last help has been on the way....from Germany ....2 weeks a month....Katarina Jacob has been a brave woman to take this on. Yes, brave, because the horses have no formal training and neither have the riders. It used to be "chase the horse" over a jump, no matter the speed, head up high, no turning, knocked a jump over?...go again with all the poles on the ground! Yes, because there was no ring crew. Amazing no one broke their leg.
not only has Katarina to correct bad riding practiceses, combined on horses that are used to be man handled is almost like a loose loose situation.
But she managed...most riders had their leg under them and some were almost on the bit, horses were jumping again and 3 even managed to take the short turn to gain time.
my hat goes off to her!
We also got to see some "pre" races where we were given a book written by the president. The Italian cavalry was present and made the line up for the president look very pretty each day!
Everything is televised, this year Chinese TV was hard at work!
Amrita Ibold, perfectly Teke crazy in every way.