The Turkmen president, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, is launching an annual national show for the famous Akhal Teke horses, says the BBC.
Turkmenistan is the only former Soviet state in Central Asia where eating horse meat is strictly taboo.
The national competition will also include an award for the best carpet featuring the horse, the best “holiday attire” for the breed, the best portrait and the best scupture.
In 2004, the country’s former president, Saparmurat Niyazov, opened a $20m (£12m) leisure centre for horses, complete with swimming pool, air conditioning and medical facilities.
Akhal Tekes are best known for their extraordinary metallic coats, which some believe provided a kind of shimmering camouflage in the deserts of Turkmenistan. There are only 3,500 in the world, and while they’re best known as endurance horses, but can also be talented dressage horses. The Portuguese classical dressage master, Nuno Oliveira, began training Akhal Tekes in the last six years of his life and one stallion, Absent, won two Olympic golds with Russian riders in the 1960s:
Dodgy as Berdymukhamedov is, I can’t help wishing we had someone here championing Akhal Tekes in the competitive dressage ring once more (and more Andalusians and Lusitanos and Lipizzaners and and and). I’m not convinced that the generic Warmblood is “the only” type that can or should tackle Grand Prix, and damn, wouldn’t it make it more interesting to see different breeds show what dressage is truly about?