ASTANA – Seven horses trained by Sapar Baiynuly, a Kazakh residing in Mongolia, achieved top positions in regional-level race competitions. Baiynuly, who hails from the Kerey tribe, shared his insights on the competition and the horse industry in Mongolia during an interview with Kazinform.
Can you tell us about the race and the main characteristics of your horses?
The event took place on July 11-12 during the Naadam festival, a celebration of statehood in Mongolia. Trainers meticulously prepare their racehorses throughout the year for this prestigious occasion. In the regional-level races, my horses claimed several prizes. An adult horse triumphed in a 24-kilometer race, a two-year-old excelled in a 14-kilometer race, while a stallion and a three-year-old secured fourth place in races covering 23 kilometers and 16 kilometers, respectively.
Another three-year-old achieved second place, and a filly and a five-year-old took third places in races spanning 11 kilometers and 23 kilometers. This outstanding performance resulted in a total of seven prize-winning positions. Following the regional races, Mongolia hosts competitions in wrestling and archery at the national level.
In recognition of such achievements in races at this level, trainers receive the Trainer of Horses at the Regional Level title. To attain this title, trainers must have a minimum of three horses that secure first place in regional races and at least eight additional horses that achieve positions up to fifth place.
Purebred Mongolian horses are distinguished by their small stature and remarkable endurance. The challenging racing courses set in rugged terrain, combined with considerations for the horses’ age, determine the specific race distances. Genghis Khan himself rode these small horses during his [conquests].
What is horse training for you?
For me, it is more of a hobby. I have been riding and training horses since childhood. My journey as a rider began during my primary school days, and by ninth or tenth grade, I was training a horse that achieved first place in district-level races.
This year, I worked with 24 horses, preparing them for races. However, the task of training horses is not without its challenges, necessitating the involvement of assistants and trainers. Throughout the winter, horses require proper feeding, and the training process involves daily runs, which come with expenses.
My family also operates a company involved in importing food products from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Armenia, which we trade in Mongolia. However, my recent focus has been primarily on my love for horses.
Are your seven prize-winning racehorses all of the local breed?
Mongolian horses have a standard average height, and races strictly adhere to this standard. If a horse exceeds this height by even half a centimeter, it is not allowed to participate in races. Breeding horses are also brought from abroad to Mongolia to crossbreed with the local ones. Mongolian trainers follow scientific principles in this process, aiming to develop a high-quality breed based on the Mongolian horse. A special state program is dedicated to this cause.
In general, there are many Kazakhs in Mongolia who enter their horses in races. Two Kazakhs have been awarded the “Trainer of Horses at the State Level” title. Trainers also operate at regional and district levels, with over 200 Kazakhs involved in preparing racehorses.
What is your method of training horses?
In the past, during winter, we let the horses rest and graze freely, and in the spring, we brought them home and prepared them within 1-2 weeks. Nowadays, the competition is intense, and people are training horses more effectively. We receive consultations from foreign trainers and maintain good connections with other trainers. Mongolian trainers also employ scientific methods, and we strive to keep up with them.
Throughout the year, we focus on special feeding and training of the horses. During the winter, we ensure the horses maintain good athletic condition. The results become apparent during the Naadam festival where many racehorses participate, and the competition level is very high. In spring and autumn, we test the horses at lower-level events.
What are your future aims and how do you plan to proceed with this work?
Our goal is to bring Akhal-Teke horses from Kazakhstan in the future and crossbreed them with local horses. We are currently discussing this with some trainers and are eager to develop a project for breeding spirited horse breeds among the Kazakhs in the Bayan-Ulgii Aimak (region).
Some Kazakhs are already importing English stallions and integrating them into their herds. We also intend to work in this direction, understanding that this process will take time.
Mongolia has 21 aimaks, and I have horses from different places. There are many spirited horses in the Sukhbaatar and Dornod aimaks. Three or four years ago, I acquired horses from well-known trainers in the Tov, Uvs, and Khovd aimaks, with a keen eye on their pedigree, particularly if it includes prize-winning racehorses. Among my seven prize-winning horses, some were acquired from these aimaks, while two horses were from our Bayan-Ulgii breed.
Our team’s efforts and hard work have led to success. We carefully monitor the horses’ diet, ensuring they are fed according to a calculated ration in winter and graze in areas with good grass during spring. Taking things seriously and remaining dedicated yield positive results, as we have witnessed.
Do you plan to participate in any international-level horse competitions in Kazakhstan?
Kazakh racing distances and horses differ from Mongolian ones, and we would like to enter our horses in these races. To participate in such competitions, we would need to buy horses and train them there. This is part of our future plan. I firmly believe that by combining the experience of trainers from both countries, we will achieve good results.
Is the Kazakh youth in Mongolia interested in horses and equestrian sports?
The Kazakh youth in Mongolia is very interested in races and equestrian sports. From a young age, our children ride foals, graze lambs and play Kokpar (a traditional Kazakh horseback sport).
Many children become skilled riders at an early age. It is not difficult to find riders, as they are usually children from our relatives. Additionally, they receive salaries and titles, such as “Best Rider of the Year,” which encourages their interest in this activity.
The article was originally published in Kazinform.