Right after the New Year holiday, the community of Nazarbayev University worked together to save a highbred horse named Talisman from being slaughtered. Support from the NU community made it possible to move Talisman to Astana from a village near Petropavlovsk, and he is now being trained to participate in a long-distance ride from Astana-Botai-Astana, that will take place this summer.
The story began when SHSS Postdoctoral Scholar, anthropologist Ulan Bigozhin was looking for horses suitable for this summer’s riding tour between Astana – Botai— Astana. Botai, a famous archaeological site associated with early horse domestication, is located on the border between the North Kazakhstan and Akmola oblasts. During this unique tour, participants plan to ride 900 km. from the capital city to Botai. Archaeologists believe that Botai is one of the potential sites for the earliest domestication of horses during the Eneolithic period, and that the horses domesticated at Botai are the ancestors of today’s Przewalski’s horse.
When asked about how he came to know about Talisman’s situation, Ulan Bigozhin had this to say: I was looking through Internet ads and found info about selling a horse for meat as ‘sogym’. I noted, that it was a highbred studhorse – a cross breed between The Vladimir Heavy Draft and The Orlov Trotter. Looking at the picture online, I was attracted to the horse’s beautiful color, point and special soft look. The horsebreeding world in Petropavl is not so big, so I could easily find more info about Talisman.
The former owner of Talisman kept him in the hippodrome in Petropvalovsk, and the horse used to be a favorite of the children there. Everyone was saying, that he was a gentle and obedient horse.
Then the owner sold him, and Talisman became a gregarious studhorse in the steppe. But eventually, Talisman started to experience health problems, so his new owner decided to fatten him up for a sale as sogym. Dr. Bigozhin sent the link advertising Talisman’s sale to his colleague, NU Assistant Professor Jenni Lehtinen, and she immediately decided to launch a campaign to save the horse from slaughter. The initiative launched by Lehtinen and Bigozhin attracted support from other colleagues and students. Through the generosity of the NU community, they were able to raise an amount sufficient for not only buying Talisman, but also to transfer him to Astana and put into the capital’s hippodrome. After arriving in Astana, a veterinarian examined Talisman and prescribed a treatment plan. Right now Talisman is feeling much better: he has lost the excess weight, which has improved his overall look, and has begun the physical training to prepare for this summer’s exciting ride to the site of his ancestors!