Chapter 3. Horse Breeding, Wrestling and Racing: From Central Asia to Anatolia

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Mehmet Turkmen1 and Aslıhan Arslan2
1Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
2Haci Bayram Veli University, Ankara, Turkey

Part of the book: Applications of Traditional Equestrian Sports in the World

Abstract

In this study, “Stallion wrestling,” which was made in the nature of horseherds (yilki) and a designated area for horse breeding in ancient Turks, is presented with some arguments. Explaining briefly the importance given to horses and horse breeders in ancient Turks and today’s Central Asian culture, how stallion wrestling was formed and transformed; it was aimed to seek answers to the questions of why horse breeding was not done with this wrestling method in the Ottoman Empire, but it was done with a canter running system and to recognize and introduce this ancient traditional struggle. In this study, which was carried out with the descriptive definition method, which is among the qualitative study patterns, document/text analysis was also carried out. It has been understood that almost all of the ancient Turkish-Mongolian peoples, except for the archaeological findings in the museums of Southern Siberia, the petroglyphs in the same geography and Central Asia, and the Anatolian Balkans, practiced stallion wrestling for breeding purposes, at least until the last quarter of the 20th century. Today, the wrestling struggles of the stallions continue in the Central Asian geography for the leadership of the semi-wild snakes released into nature; the Turkish tribes of the Altai Republic, who were victorious and took their stallions, made stallion wrestling once a year in the third week of July in the “Folk-Game/El-Oyun” festival. However, it was removed from the 2022 program because it was seen as contrary to animal rights by those who came to this festival. But wrestling continues in the rural areas of the Altai Turkic peoples and all-over Inner Mongolia. The ‘horse races’ for horse breeding in the Ottoman Empire intensified in the second half of the 19th century, and it was understood that they were not held for breeding purposes after 1920.

Keywords: Central Asia, Altai Turks, Mongols, stallion wrestling, horse breeding


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