Turkmenistan’s president is normally mad for horses. Right now, he’s just mad.In a televised government meeting February 18, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov fired the head of the national state equine association, accusing him of a complete failure to develop the industry.Over the period of Allanur Oraznazarov’s tenure at Turkmen Atlary (“Turkmen Horses”), the number of animals in state stables has consistently fallen, the president said. In 2011, the number fell by 64 and then by another 56 in 2012. Berdymukhamedov did not specify the size of Turkmenistan’s current horse stock.The horse in question is, of course, Turkmenistan’s beloved Akhal-Teke breed, which has been subject of Berdymukhamedov’s undyingly passionate attention for many years.The problem isn’t just their rearing, but also the following for equine events in the provinces. “The horse sport complexes built in the velayats are totally empty, there are no events taking place there,” Berdymukhamedov said.He also complained about the quality of work in horse-rearing facilities, the poor standard of veterinary medicine, treatment and specialists. “That’s why our horse-breeders can’t take part in competitions abroad,” he said.That is an interesting observation that sounds almost like an excuse for why the much-vaunted Akhal-Tekes have never been entered into international competition, despite claims that they are unmatched in all respects.This is the first time that Berdymukhamedov has so baldly stated that the horse-rearing industry is in a state of disarray. It is a particularly crushing admission when it is considered that the sector is officially administered under the personal tutelage of the president as “a great horse estimator and connoisseur.”And that wasn’t all for hapless Oraznazarov.He was also accused of renting out Turkmen Atlary premises to private companies. Nothing has ever been seen of those rental payments, said Berdymukhamedov.“Only 30 percent of the land allocated to the association has been sown with grazing grass. The rest is barren. I am instructing the Interior Ministry to run checks on Turkmen Atlary and pass on their findings to prosecutors,” he said.
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