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A Horse, a Horse, Turkmenistan for a Horse

The Protector says, "Head for the Racetrack." (From an official 2011 calendar.)

It’s April in Turkmenistan, so horse fever is in the air.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s beloved Horse Day is being celebrated on the last Sunday of the month, and so officials of all stripes are being strongly encouraged to head down to the races this weekend.

As the Chronicles of Turkmenistan reports, students from high and middle school are also being forced to turn up at the hippodrome. Lest anybody think nobody is checking, people in Ashgabat say that failure to comply by those instructions last Sunday prompted concerned queries.

In case the races weren’t enough, state newspaper Neutralny Turkmenistan has over the past few days been printing impassioned verse celebrating the virtues of the equine beast and the country’s pre-eminent jockey: Berdymukhamedov, aka Arkadag (The Protector).

Here are a couple of stanzas from “Akhan,” by People’s Writer Gozel Shagulyeva:

How gracefully you pranced, Akhan!
By your stature you charm me!
You have become a symbol of the era of Arkadag.
What playfulness my Akhan.

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A Horse, a Horse, Turkmenistan for a Horse

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