Kyrgyz Mountain horse, a breed threatened to disappear, gains Slow Food Presidium status

29 Jan 2024 | English

with the aim of enhancing the value of this important element of the local indigenous people culture.

Slow Food has created the first Presidium in Kyrgyzstan, dedicated to the Kyrgyz Mountain horse, a valuable breed with unique qualities. It is hardy, strong, and well-adapted to the harsh conditions of these mountains, and can easily graze the whole year, finding natural shelters. In addition to its significant contribution to the biodiversity of the area, this horse plays a pivotal role in the culture of the local indigenous herders and contributes to food security, thanks to its remarkable resilience.

In the craggy mountains of Kyrgyzstan in fact, particularly the Naryn and Issyk-Kul terrains, shelter one of the world’s most ancient horse bloodlines. From the domestication of the wild horse to its modern state, the Kyrgyz horse has a history that dates back over 4,000 years. The Kyrgyz horse came about through a long process and complex mixing of aboriginal horses from different nomadic tribes, including the tarpan, a wild breed now extinct.

Kyrgyz horses are bred to be used as riding and carriage animals on mountainous off-road terrain. In addition, they provide meat and milk from which a delicacy such as the koumiss is made: a fermented drink that has therapeutic and prophylactic properties. Both the meat and the milk are rich in protein.

The Kyrgyz Mountain horse has received the status of an independent breed in December 2020, but basically no actions were taken to specifically safeguard the breed, which nowadays is threatened to disappear, making the preservation of the Kyrgyz horse population uniqueness very urgent. Hybridization during the Soviet period with other breeds of horses led to the disappearance of the pure breed, which is now found only in the more remote mountainous areas of the country. The establishment of the Presidium aims at enhancing the value of this indigenous breed and the promotion of related food products.

Anara MomunovaSlow Food Presidium referent, says: “As of today, 25 breeders (in total 76 producers and their families) are involved in the Presidium, but more are expected to join in the future. We are ready to commit ourselves to the Presidium’s aims: to enhance capacities of Kyrgyz indigenous youth and women to protect and promote our food heritage through preservation and protection of Kyrgyz aboriginal horses, which we inherit from our ancestors. We also plan to foster communication and knowledge and practice-sharing among stakeholders in lssyk-Kul, Naryn and Chuy regions”.


 The establishment of the Kyrgyz Mountain Horse Presidium has been achieved through the dedicated activism of the local Slow Food Indigenous Peoples Network and the invaluable support of IFAD (the International Fund for Agricultural Development). 

For more information:
The Slow Food Presidium project supports quality products at risk of disappearing, protects unique territories and ecosystems, promotes traditional processing methods and safeguards indigenous species and local plant varieties. Today, over 14,000 producers are involved in 673 Presidia around the world.
Slow Food is an international network of local communities founded in 1989 to prevent the disappearance of local culinary cultures and traditions, and to halt the spread of fast-food culture. Since then, Slow Food has grown into a global movement involving millions of people in 160 countries, working to ensure that everyone has access to good, healthy and fair food. Slow Food is the coordinating organization responsible for leading the movement as a whole.
Slow Food International Press Office
Paola Nano – [email protected] (+39) 329 8321285
Alessia Pautasso – [email protected] (+39) 342 8641029


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