Famous Turkish Horse Breeds – Facts, History & Characteristics


But little known to the present-day student of equine history, the Turk nonetheless needs to be considered and it is value-weighted as a representative of the Eastern hot-blood family, though it must be admitted that one would be hard put to find a true Turkish horse these days.

They were undoubtedly known in England in the 16th century, and as some indication of the horse let us quote Blundeville who, in 1580, wrote of the Turk that they ‘be indifferently fair to the eye, though not very great nor strong made, yet very light and swift in their running and of great courage.’ From this, it would appear that the horse was somewhat similar to the Barb.

As is well known, the famous ‘Byerley Turk’ was imported into England in 1689, though certain authorities have asserted that he was not a Turk but an Arab. The ‘Lister Turk’ was imported by the Duke of Berwick in the reign of James II, while between the years 1690 and 1700 two horses, whose stock subsequently stamped their worth in a long line of racehorses, themselves achieved fame on the English Turf; they were imported by Lord D’Arcy – the ‘White Turk’ and the ‘Yellow Turk’.

Authorities seem to agree that the old Turkmen horse was identical with the Mongolian horse of Upper Asia, and if such be indeed true then it is not surprising that the Mongolian influence, despite the fact that there has been much mixing of Arab blood, asserts itself in the straight or roman nose and the ewe neck yet withal a tail fairly well set on. Such horses are to be found mainly in Anatolia.

The most typically indigenous horses in Turkey are the Kurdistan ponies bred near Sivas. There it is the custom to cross the native mares with Arab stallions, thus encouraging a general grading-up of the native breed and turning out a good type of small working pony of 14 to 14.2 hands and well suited to native requirements. The Kurdistan is of the same rootstock as a Turkoman and they have coarse heads, thick necks, short bodies, and good bone. As may be supposed from their breeding, they are immensely hardy and greatly enduring, while in color they are usually grey or bay.

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