Turk­menistan leader ac­cepts honor of be­ing named ‘Peo­ple’s Horse Breeder’

The China Post - - ARTS LIFE -

Turk­menistan’s Pres­i­dent Gur­ban­guly Berdy­mukhame­dov ac­cepted a new hon­orific ti­tle, the “Peo­ple’s Horse Breeder,” on Sun­day at cel­e­bra­tions for the Day of the Horse in the iso­lated Cen­tral Asian coun­try.

Strongman Berdy­mukhame­dov, who has led the ex- Soviet coun­try of 5 mil­lion peo­ple since 2006, was awarded the ti­tle dur­ing a week­end of eques­trian events in­clud­ing a horse beauty con­test.

Dressed in a tra­di­tional gown and a white lamb­swool hat, he ac­cepted the honor and com­pared the en­ergy-rich coun­try to its sig­na­ture Akhal- Teke breed of horses, renowned for their strength and speed.

“Our coun­try is mov­ing for­ward with the speed of an Akhal-Teke stal­lion and I call on you all to move for­ward and only for­ward!” he de­clared to a cheer­ing crowd.

The crowd re­sponded with chants of “Glory to the Pro­tec­tor!” us­ing a popular ti­tle for the leader.

Berdy­mukhame­dov’s love for horses is well- known. He is the au­thor of a book on the Akhal- Teke breed and took Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev on a horse­back tour of a gi­ant com­plex for 400 of the horses out­side the cap­i­tal Ashgabat last year.

In 2013, the Day of the Horse cel­e­bra­tions ended abruptly when Berdy­mukhame­dov top­pled off his steed sec­onds af­ter win­ning a race and was im­me­di­ately sur­rounded by black-clad se­cu­rity guards.

He was not se­ri­ously in­jured in the fall, clips of which have gained tens of thou­sands of views on YouTube.

This year Berdy­mukhame­dov did not en­ter a race, but his grand­son, Ker­imguly, won a short horse­back sprint.

The cel­e­bra­tions also in­cluded a horse beauty con­test, which was won by a horse called “Neu­tral­ity,” a name re­flect­ing the non-aligned repub­lic’s of­fi­cial for­eign pol­icy.

The win­ners took home Toy­ota Land Cruiser SUVs and other Ja­panese and Korean-made cars.

The Day of the Horse hol­i­day was started by Berdy­mukhame­dov’s late pre­de­ces­sor, Sa­parmu­rat Niya­zov, an ec­cen­tric dic­ta­tor who re­named the months af­ter mem­bers of his fam­ily and erected a golden statue of him­self that re­volved to re­flect the sun.

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