Turkoman Saddle

Contributed by Ruth Staines

I bought this saddle (from a shop still using an abacus as a calculator)while on a horse riding trip in Northern Iran. Although probably not more than fifty years old, it is of a type, a leather covered wooden tree, that has been in use in Central Asia for centuries. The Turkmen were nomadic tribes with a special affinity with their horses,tall and elegant, which they bred to be especially swift for their slave raids. Chinese emperors sent expeditions to acquire them, and at the end of the nineteenth century the Russians developed them into the Akhal Teke breed of today. These horses, which reached England in the eighteenth century,make up part of the ancestry of our present day racehorses. I rode these horses over ancient landscapes, by Parthian terraces and Scythian burial mounds, with an amazing Ameriacan woman, Louise Firouz, who married a Persian prince in the fifties and spent the rest of her life, till she died in 2008, devoted to the horses of the area.

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