Kyrgyz Horse

The Kyrgyz people have a long and proud tradition of horse breeding, and the horse still plays an integral role in Kyrgyz life, both as a working animal and as a symbol of power and prestige.

This breed is known for its endurance and sturdy build, making it a great choice for those who live in colder climates.

Here is all you need to know about the Kyrgyz horse, so saddle up, because it’s time for a ride through Central Asia!

Kyrgyz Horse Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Kyrgyz horse:

Height (size) Up to 13.7 hands
Colors Dark colors or gray
Country of Origin Kyrgyzstan
Common Uses Transportation, national games like mounted wrestling, racing or Kok-Boru, meat and milk production, general riding, racing, as a light harness horse

Kyrgyz Horse Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

The horse, like in other nomadic cultures, plays a significant role in everyday life in Kyrgyzstan.

It was formerly the only means of transportation in the Tian Shan Mountains, as well as the companion of many shepherds, and an ally in battle.

Giving a horse as a gift was like giving someone the keys to an expensive car.

In Kyrgyz legends, every national hero has a dependable horse which he rides through the country’s mountains, valleys, and rivers.

The Kyrgyz people have always relied on horses for transportation, and many continue to do so today, particularly in rural areas that are inaccessible by car.

The horse is a very important part of the national identity, present in all national games, festivities, and legends – ‘horses are wings of the Kyrgyz’.

They say that and a man who does not know how to ride a horse is not a man.

Horses are handled with great respect in Kyrgyzstan.

They are very well-trained, particularly those who participate in national games like kok-boru or mounted wrestling.

The traditional game of kok-boru

In Kyrgyzstan, a popular game called kok-boru, sometimes known as ulak tartysh or ‘gray wolf’, involves two teams of riders attempting to bring a goat or calf carcass into the other team’s endzone.

It’s possible that the game evolved from informal competitions between shepherds who hunted wolves that threatened their sheep.

Although the game has altered over the years, it is still played in many different forms throughout Central Asia under a variety of different names, like ulak-tartysh in other parts of Kyrgyzstan, kokpar in Kazakhstan, and buzkashi in Afghanistan.

A typical prize for kok-boru winners a century ago was a feast, but today it may be anything from a smart phone and money to a Mercedes Benz.

In the past, the Kyrgyz people lived a nomadic lifestyle, and the horse was their most trusted companion.

The traditional horse games are a chance for the people to show their culture and heritage.

Domestication of horses

From prehistoric times to the current day, horses have been an integral part of nomadic cultures, but there is a great deal of debate around who was first responsible for domesticating horses.

One theory is that the first people to domesticate horses were Eurasian nomads from the Botai culture, which lived in what is now northern Kazakhstan.

This is supported by new archaeological evidence discovered in 2009: horse bones and also vessels with traces of horse milk from around 3500 BC were discovered in the same area.

The domestication of horses was one of the pivotal moments in the progression of human civilization, which made it possible for humans to travel much faster and further, and discover new lands.

Within a short time, horseback riding expanded over the whole Eurasian continent.

Central Asian nomads rode the finest horses that were specifically bred for endurance.

These horses didn’t go unnoticed by the Chinese who were interested in trading, marking the beginning of the famous Silk Road trading route.

Kyrgiz Horse in modern times

During the times of the Soviet Union the native Kyrgyz horse was crossed with breeds from other countries, such as the Don and the Thoroughbred, in order to make the horse taller and quicker, and more suitable for racing.

These practices saw the creation of a new breed named Novokyrgyz or New Kyrgyz Horse, which was officially recognized in 1956.

As a consequence, the numbers of the original native breed were drastically decreased over time, although lately there have been signs of recovery.

The Fondation Kyrgyz Ate, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the Kyrgyz Horse, was founded in Bishkek at the beginning of the 21st century.

The national ministry of agriculture accepted a breed standard that was partly developed on a description discovered in Saint Petersburg archives.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names




Physical Characteristics

They are able to live at very high altitudes.

It is a breed with great stamina and endurance.

The Kyrgiz is able to traverse difficult terrain and high elevations with relative ease, mostly because of its strong neck that is used for balancing.

They are capable of traveling vast distances regardless of the weather or the terrain.

They possess a natural ambling gait.


Dark colors or grey

Height (size)

Up to 13.7 hand high







Blood Type


Common Uses

Transportation, national games like mounted wrestling and kok-boru, meat and milk production, general riding, racing, as a light harness horse



Popular Traits

They possess a natural ambling gait and incredible endurance



Country of Origin