The National Sport of Kazakhstan is Horse Racing.
Horse Racing in Kazakhstan is revered, playing a crucial role in the country’s traditions and cultural identity.
To learn more about sports culture in Kazakhstan, read our article about the most popular sports in Kazakhstan.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Horse Racing
- 9th century: The origin of horse racing in Kazakhstan dates back to the ancient Turkic tribes and their equestrian culture, with races being organized during special events and festivities.
- 19th century: Modernization of the sport during the Russian Empire period brought more standardized rules and new racing tracks to Kazakhstan.
- 20th century: Kazakhstan’s horse racing scene continued to grow with regular competitions, forming a solid foundation for the present-day national sport.
- 1991: The establishment of the Kazakhstan Equestrian Federation after the country’s independence sought to further develop and promote the sport.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Horse Racing is deeply intertwined with Kazakhstan’s cultural identity, reflecting the importance of horses in the daily life and history of the nomadic tribes. It is more than just a sport; it represents a way to honor the ancestral bond between humans and horses and uphold traditions passed down through generations.
Several festivals, rituals, and events in Kazakhstan include horse racing as a key element. The most notable is Nauryz, celebrating the arrival of spring, features horse racing competitions across the country, capturing the imagination and shared heritage of the people.
Traditional Kazakh horse racing is not limited to flat racing but also includes other forms like “kumis alu,” the art of picking up a coin from the ground on a galloping horse, and “kyz kuu,” a race where a man chases a woman on horseback with the aim of stealing a kiss.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Distance: Races are typically held on distances ranging from 3 to 25 kilometers, depending on the age and breed of the participating horses.
- Ages: Horses of various age groups participate in different categories, ensuring fair competition.
- Starting: Races begin from a standing start, with riders lined up behind a starting line.
- Winner: The horse that crosses the finish line first is declared the winner, while second and third places are also rewarded.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Horses: Local breeds such as Akhal-Teke, Karabair, and Kazakh are popular choices for racing due to their stamina and speed.
- Saddles: Traditional Kazakh saddles with high pommels and cantles provide riders with stability during high-speed racing.
- Bridles: Traditional bridles, often adorned with ornate decorations, are used to guide and control the horse.
- Riding attire: Riders wear traditional Kazakh clothing, including “chapan” (a coat), “shapan” (vest), and “saukele” (headdress) for official competitions and ceremonies.
#4 Modern Development of Horse Racing
Over the years, Horse Racing in Kazakhstan has evolved and adapted to contemporary times while still retaining its cultural roots. International events, partnerships, and exchanges have brought global recognition and support for the sport within the country.
Technological advancements have also influenced the sport, with modern tracks, comfortable facilities, and accurate timing systems elevating the quality of competitions. Additionally, Kazakh horse breeders have used scientific approaches to improve breeding practices and enhance the performance of local horses.
In recent decades, new racing formats and disciplines have emerged, such as endurance racing and showjumping, which have further diversified Kazakhstan’s equestrian scene. The growing popularity of these disciplines showcases the versatility of the sport and its ability to evolve and thrive in the modern world.
#5 Horse Racing and the Olympics
While Horse Racing as a standalone event has not been part of the modern Olympic Games, equestrian sports such as dressage, eventing, and showjumping have been Olympic disciplines since 1900 for men and 1952 for women. These sports have their roots in horse racing and showcase the skill, agility, and endurance of both the horse and rider.
Kazakhstan’s participation in equestrian events at the Olympics has not only strengthened the connection between horse racing and the international sports community but also contributed to the recognition of Kazakhstan’s equestrian heritage on a global stage.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Talgat Kozhomuratov: A successful Kazakh showjumper, Kozhomuratov has represented Kazakhstan at multiple international competitions, including the 2018 Asian Games, where he won bronze in team jumping.
- Rustem Akhmedzhanov: Another Kazakh showjumper, Akhmedzhanov has competed in several major events and was a part of the bronze-winning team in the 2018 Asian Games.
- Maxim Vashkevich: A prominent equestrian competitor from Kazakhstan, Vashkevich has scored commendable achievements in regional competitions and has shown promise in international events.
#7 Where to watch Horse Racing
- Qazaqstan TV and KAZsport: National broadcasters that provide coverage of horse racing competitions and equestrian sporting events.
- Online streaming platforms: Live streaming services such as RaceBets offer the ability to watch international horse racing events from the comfort of your home.
- Almaty Central Hippodrome: Visit one of the most famous horse racing venues in Kazakhstan, located in Almaty, to witness thrilling races and immerse yourself in the local equestrian culture.
- Regional competitions: Attend local horse racing events and traditional festivals across Kazakhstan, where competitions are organized regularly and showcase the country’s rich equestrian heritage.