Published: 14:17, May 20, 2024
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Elderly trainer espouses his equestrian affinity
By Mao Weihua in Urumqi and Chen Meiling

Senior hopes to pass on horse training tradition to Kazak youth in rural Xinjiang

Nisbag Jangdolat rides on his favorite white horse on a slope near his home in Tekes county, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. (PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

With a full beard and a wrinkly face, Nisbag Jangdolat, 80, defied Father Time as he vaulted onto his horse before it began galloping on the grassland in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Despite his advanced age, Nisbag, from Hujith Mongolian village in Tekes county, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, often competes in horse races and has won many awards.

He has made a good living raising and training horses. He can earn 4,000 yuan ($553) in stud fees, and a horse can be sold for 25,000 to 30,000 yuan.

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Nisbag is a member of the Kazak ethnic group, whose people are well known for their horseback riding skills. There is a saying that goes, "Songs and horses are the two wings of the Kazak people."

When Nisbag was very young, his father taught him how to ride horses and communicate with them.

"He told me that horses are the pride of the Kazak people and a symbol of the Kazak spirit," he said.

Since then, horses have become an indispensable part of his life. When he got married, he began raising and training horses of his own. He now cares for about 20 horses, and although he loves each of them, the apple of his eye is a white horse that has been with him through countless trials and tribulations.

"Once, I got lost on the grassland, and it led me back home. Since then, we have become even closer," he said.

On another occasion, Nisbag encountered a storm while the horse was grazing. Once again, the horse led him to safety.

"It shielded me from the wind and rain with its body. At that moment, I deeply felt its loyalty and bravery," he added.

As Nisbag spoke, the horse affectionately rubbed his back with its head.

In his view, horses are not just a means of transportation, but also friends and family.

"We share a deep bond, and I can sense their emotions. They seem to understand my thoughts as well," he said. "This understanding and trust are the result of years of companionship."

Raising horses also helped him develop a deeper love of nature and more respect for life, leading him to become a more patient, attentive person.

However, according to Nisbag, young people nowadays prefer to live a more modern lifestyle and are not interested in traditional horse training skills, which require a lot of time and effort.

Nisbag often tells children stories about horse training, shows them the training process and teaches them how to care for horses and communicate with them.

"I hope they can personally experience the charm of horse training and be willing to carry on this culture," he said.

As one of the secrets of selecting good horses for market, he said one needs to observe its bright eyes, symmetrical body and steady gait.

As for training horses, one needs to use a progressive approach to gradually teach the horse various movements and techniques.

"Additionally, it's essential to observe and understand the horse's habits to better interact with them," he said.

"I hope that our horse culture and horse training skills can be passed down from generation to generation, never ceasing. We must take care of horses with our hearts and pass on this beautiful tradition," he added.

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In order to be able to ride on the grassland at his age, he engages in simple exercises every day such as walking his horses and pulling grass to feed them.

"Even though I'm 80 years old, my feeling of freedom and joy remains the same. However, compared to my younger years, I cherish every moment spent with the horses even more and appreciate the happiness and companionship they bring me," he added.

Ayitjan Nisbag, his son, said like his father, he wants horses to be his eternal friends no matter how society changes.

Every memory he has of his father is related to horses.

"From a young age, my dad would tell us stories about him and horses. Unknowingly, horses also became my childhood companions, from whom we learned about courage and resilience," he said, adding that he will pass down the Kazak horse culture to future generations, too.

Contact the writers at chenmeiling@chinadaily.com.cn