Tour leader Carly Fillis has just returned from leading our Cities of the Silk Road group tour to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Below Carly reflects on getting up close and personal with Turkmenistan's iconic horses...
We arrived at the Akhal-Teke stud farm late in the morning. As a horse rider I couldn't wait to see these heavenly horses which had taken Gengis Khan across the vastness of the steppes and the deserts to conquer and destroy cities and lives along the Silk Road. These horses' ancestors are a massive part of history; without their strong endurance the lands could have been shaped very differently or even, without them, not shaped at all.
These horses are one of Turkmenistan's iconic symbols – gold statues of horses are scattered around the country and the new stadium being built for the Asia games has a huge horse peering over the roof. These horse are even given as gifts around the world from one president to another.
The beauty of the horses did not disappoint. They shimmered and felt like silk. One beautiful stallion, the most expensive, was actually gold. Their slender frames and beautiful faces remind me of the Arab and thoroughbred horses from which they descended, mixed blood and were part bred decades ago. These magnificent creatures were built for the heat of the desert; they have speed.
I was fortunate enough to prove myself to the head of the stud farm and for this I was treated to a canter around the paddock. The rest of my day was spent dreaming of riding along the Silk Road and across the deserts. I'd love to come back here and ride for a couple more hours, but for now I was happy to get my chance of riding on a beautiful piece of history.