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Horses of the celestial mountains - Steppe riders in Kyrgystand

In the remote regions of the Tien Chan mountains in Kyrgyzstan the French horse devotee Jacqueline Ripart hopes to find the last remaining specimens of the small, tough horses with which Genghis Khan once conquered Central Asia and which are now threatened by extinction.
Under Soviet
rule the Kyrgyz horse was “bred“ with Russian breeds to produce meat for slaughter. Traditional horse races and riding games were abolished, just like the travelling minstrels and their traditional music. This left deep wounds in the cultural identity of the Kyrgyz. Since the fall of communism they have been trying to find their way back to the old nomadic traditions.
The film accompanies horse expert Jacqueline Ripart in her efforts to revive the breeding of the “original” Kyrgyz horse. She organises a large riding festival every year so that the mares and stallions can come together again. Archers on horseback, minstrels, and hunting with eagles and dogs are all on the programme as well as wrestling on horses and endurance races. The hopes rest on the horse trainer Odiz and his Kyrgyz stallion Prix.
Another protagonist is old Abdillajan. He and his wife have eight children and sixteen grandchildren. The entire clan of herders lives for horse sports: the sons are passionate Kok-Buro players, a sort of horse football where a beheaded goat is used for a ball. And his daughter Asyyl is the favourite at “Kiz Kumai“, at “catching girls“. She will escape the men trying to plant a kiss on her at full gallop – only to turn and torment her opponent with the riding whip on the way back – such are the rules of the game.
Of course, there’s no turning back the wheel of time: one can hardly expect the old nomadic life-style to be reborn. But maybe they can revive what is at the core of their cultural identity – recognition that they are a horse-riding nomadic people.
Watch the Trailer
Runtime (in min.):52
Format:Digital Betacam
Aspect Ratio:16:9
Year Of Production:2006
Countries of Production:Germany
Companies & Organizations
Production Company:

Filmquadrat.dok GmbH



ARTE (in Zusammenarbeit mit)

Asia, Mongolia, Genghis Khan, Horse, Animal, Ride, Riding, Nomads, Research
Animals, Domestic Animals & Farm Animals, Horses, Wildlife, Asian Wildlife, Geography, Travel & Cultures, Asia, Other Asian Countries