Turkey – Beautiful Horses Country  
     
  Turkish horse and equestrian culture is developing
Access to horses becomes easier as the number of clubs increase
Horses that provide living through carriages and carts
Horses running for hope
Traditional Turkish horse-breeding and horses
Time to ride horses in Istanbul
Owning and riding horses in Turkey
Long-distance riding in Turkey
 
   
  Turkish horse and equestrian culture is developing  
  Turkish horse and equestrian culture is developing  
     
 

Popularity of horse-riding increases day by day in Turkey, where amateur riders ride horses at clubs that give service as members of Turkish Equestrian Federation or independently. Growing income levels, changing living conditions as well as rise in number of country sides have resulted in an increase of interest in horses. At least one or a few horses are kept nearly at every farm.

Horses are visible in movies, TV series or video clips. Parents nowadays make their children present of horses instead of bicycles. Almost every celebrity gets horse-riding training.

 
   
  Access to horses becomes easier as the number of clubs increase  
  Access to horses becomes easier as the number of clubs increase  
     
 

51 clubs, which are members of Turkish Equestrian Federation and are mainly based in Istanbul, offer riding lessons to amateurs. Besides Istanbul, riding clubs are also available in other cities such as Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, Bursa, Samsun and Adana.

Together with the clubs offering independent horse riding training, nearly 1.000 horses and riders verified their licenses only in the past year. The majority of horses used for amateur sports such as dressage, endurance, show jumping, pony-riding and three-day competition are of European origin.

Other than for military purposes, there is a new emerging competition branch –Endurance, where the majority of the horses are of Arab origin.

 
   
 

Horses that provide living through carriages and carts

 
  Horses that provide living through carriages and carts  
     
 

The load-carrying carts still can be found in some cities of Turkey, even in many parts of Istanbul. Although the exact number of those vehicles, which are usually used for transportation of light loads over short distances, is unknown, the fact that you can see them even on the motorways proves that it is not at a level to be underestimated.

Carriages, on the other hand, are still used in many cities. Although they are usually regarded as nostalgic transport vehicles in some big cities, it is worthwhile to mention that nearl 1.500 carriages are registered only in ‘Adalar’ (Islands) district of Istanbul.

Moreover, there exist special lines for carriages in touristic areas like Antalya or cities on flat terrain like Edirne.

 
   
 

Horses running for hope

 
  Horses running for hope  
     
 

Around 15 thousand horses are kept in professional horse riding and racing sectors. In those fields, where 5 thousand 500 horses race and 4 thousand foals are kept, around 5 thousand pregnant mares and 500 stallions exist.

Around 30 thousand people are employed for the care, sheltering, training, feeding and transportation of these Arab and British origin horses as well as in the racing industry. While the number of bookmakers is around 2 thousand 500, there are horse races in 7 cities, during 365 days.

Due to the estimations, around 300 thousand people earn their livings through occupations related with horses.

 
   
 

Traditional Turkish horse-breeding and horses

 
  Traditional Turkish horse-breeding and horses  
     
 

Turks’ relation to and ties with the horses are acknowledged. Having domesticated and used the horse in every area of life, Turks had enduring species that could successfully cover rather long distances. Today there are well-known species like Akalteke (Ahal Teke) horses existing at Turkmen uplands or Kabartay (Gabardin) horses living at Balkar-Kabartay-Çerkeski regions of the Caucasus. There are also native races specific to Anatolia, like Uzunyayla, Canik and Kula. Karpaz donkey, for example, is a kind which is specific to Cyprus.

Today, Turkish horse breeding and riding is focused on flat races on sand and grass racetracks. For agriculture and forestry works, mainly mules and donkeys are used. On the other hand, native horses as well as Arab and British horses, whose racing lives are over, are used for transporting goods and people in the cities and between the villages. Feral horses still exist in many parts of Anatolia. It is certain that, those horses that struggle to survive need attention.

Jerid (Turkish Cirit) is a traditional Turkish equestrian sport which has started to revive. Turkish ancestral sport jerid, which also started to be recognized internationally, is usually played on horses of Arab origin.

Ambling gait is a branch of competition where mostly native Anatolian horses compete and is a popular in many parts of Anatolia.

Sledge horses are usually used in the Eastern Anatolian cities, where winters are long and severe, for transportation purposes. Urban transportation is provided by simple sledges drawn by horses.

Equipments are still produced by traditional methods. Production of saddles, pack saddles, horse panels, saddletrees, horse collars, harnesses, carts and coaches continue in many regions of Turkey.

 
   
 

Time to ride horses in Istanbul

 
  Time to ride horses in Istanbul  
     
 

38 riding clubs are run in Istanbul and the surrounding area. It is possible for horse lovers to satisfy their different riding tastes like show jumping, land tours, dressage or endurance. It is normally enough to pay 50-100 liras fee for one-hour ride.

You may need to get out of the town if want to see domestic horses, ride an ambling horse or play jerid. However, in order to learn more about Turkish horses and their lives, it is sufficient to take a tour around the suburbs or to travel to historically rich tourist attractions like Edirne, which is within 2-hour distance from Istanbul.

 
   
 

Owning and riding horses in Turkey

 
  Owning and riding horses in Turkey  
     
 

Contrary to a common belief, owning, riding of keeping horses are not unreachable things. It is possible to have a trained horse, for example, only for 1.000 liras. 500 liras will be enough for buying a complete set of riding apparel, while the same amount will also do for the horse equipment. If care and sheltering services will be obtained from outer sources, 500 liras per month will be sufficient for that. This means, with an investment of 2.500 liras and a monthly expenditure of 500 liras, it is possible to ride a horse as a family. The average of three years, amounts to 16 liras investment cost and 115 TL care cost per week, which can compete with some picnic expenditures. For a family of three, the weekly cost is 131 liras per member.

Mainly in Istanbul and in many parts of Turkey farms are standing by to provide this service. Also in some cities facilities operated by municipalities, offer horse-riding activities at for much more affordable prices.

 
   
  Long-distance riding in Turkey  
  Türkiye’de Uzun Mesafe Binicilik  
     
 

As anyone who has had the chance to ride across country will know, this equestrian sport is like none other.   It offers a sense of freedom and adventure that is unmatched.  Travelling on horseback over several days, and camping at night or staying with local people, long-distance riding is a complete contrast to other forms of equestrianism.

Turkey has great variety of gorgeous and dramatic landscapes, well-established local cultures, ancient archaeological and historical sites to visit, and old road networks that can be used as riding routes.  The rural people will greet you with warmth and hospitality when you stop for a break in their villages, delighted that you have chosen to visit them.

For people used to riding in Europe or America, the openness of the countryside is one of Turkey's greatest assets.  Traditional farming practices mean that few areas are fenced, and you can ride for days on end without having to open a gate or negotiate barriers erected to keep you out! 

Long-distance, cross-country riding in Turkey is in its infancy, but has great potential, and is in line with present trends towards more sustainable tourism.