Taming and milking horses started in Kazakhstan 5500 years ago and continues to this day, so it would seem Kazakhstan is a natural place for a horse riding adventure. Indeed, horses are a big part of the culture and you can find them everywhere once outside of the big cities. With limited time and budget, a horse riding tour is probably the best way to go.
If you have more time and would like to strike out on your own, you can organise to rent a horse yourself with the help of a local translator or guide if you don’t speak the language. If you’re planning a big, seasons-spanning horse-ride through Kazakhstan, you might consider buying horses.
Horse riding tours in Kazakhstan
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Horse riding regions and routes
Riding a horse in Kazakhstan is best in the north, south and east of the country, where landscapes are more diverse, grazing is better and there are more sources of water for the horses. Natural parks are the first choice for many, but these can be expensive sometimes. Any place that is of tourist interest in Kazakhstan will usually have some horses for rent.
The centre and the west of the country are made up of huge expanses of desert and steppe. Although this may sound very romantic, the reality is that of a very harsh horse ride, only for the toughest, most experienced riders and horses.
- Kolsai lakes: not far from Almaty, 3 idyllic lakes surrounded by mountains are connected by horse trails.
- Aksu-Zhabagly: Best-known national park in Kazakhstan, with well-managed tourist programmes.
- Sayram-Ugam: Close to Aksu-Zhabagly but less popular, a similar mix of mountains, mammals and birds.
- Burabay (Borovoye): Upmarket resort lake in a beautiful pine-tree setting.
- Katon-Karagay: The remote Altai mountains in the northeast of Kazakhstan.
- Kokshetau: In the north of Kazakhstan, a low-key natural park with attractive fauna and flora.
Riding a horse in Almaty or Astana
Horse riding in Almaty
- Tour companies make outings to Almarasan or Kolsai lakes for around 5000 tenge per hour.
- Horseback riding school near the hippodrome. Telephone number +7 (702) 986-83-52 Riding hall and open-air rink $10 per session. The school is located behind a bazaar at the end of the hippodrome.
- Sunkar falcon centre. Horseback riding in the mountains near Almaty with or without an instructor. 100m past the entrance to the Zailysky Alatau national park in Almarasan gorge, on the right hand side. Telephone: 255-30-76.
- Lesnaya Skazka resort: 8000 tenge/hour.
- Ajar stud farm in Almaty: 3000 tenge/hour, 3500 with instructor.
- Ak Bulak stud farm in Talgar. Telephone: 8701 359 7799.
- Altyn Tai horseriding club. It is is situated within easy reach from city on the way to Medeo in Butakovka, 7,5 kilometre, close to Belajio restaurant. 5500 with instructor.
- Altyn Tau stud farm, west of the Alatau sanatorium Tel: 235 16 09.
- Other farms that offer horse riding: Aul Tau and Shyryn.
- In some areas around Almaty people rent out horses in the summer. Try Remizov canyon: 3500 tenge/hour, Ak Bulak: 3000 tenge/hour or Turgen: 1500 tenge/hour (approx. prices).
Horse riding in Astana
- Astana country club/Kulager: located at Pos.Internatsionalnoe (Uchkhoz) ul.Zhagazhay, 84. +77479879876 / +77172628873 / +77058033333. 3000 tenge/hour inside the fenced area. Tours with guide outside the fenced area cost 7000 per first hour and 5000 per an additional hour.
- Altyn Tulpar riding club: 2000 tenge/hour
Renting a horse in Kazakhstan
The price for renting a horse varies wildly. In Astana and Almaty it can go up to 25$ an hour. In well-known natural parks as Borovoye and Aksu-Zhabagly it’s the same price for a whole day. In a small village they will let you hop on the horse for a 1000 tenge, or even for free. In general, more tourists means a higher price. The same applies to fees for horseback guides.
Buying a horse in Kazakhstan
Where should you buy a horse in Kazakhstan? With the huge distances involved in traveling across Kazakhstan, close to where you plan to start your trip is a good idea. All small villages have people who own horses, it is simply a matter of doing your research on the ground, talking to people. One of the dedicated stud farms in Almaty is Ajar (4000$ – 10000$). The Kulager school in Astana also has horses for sale. There is some bureaucracy involved in owning a horse in Kazakhstan, including a national horse passport. The Equestrian Association of Kazakhstan can help you.
Price of a horse in Kazakhstan
The price for a decent riding stallion (mares are highly valued and not used for riding) goes from 3000 US$ up to 10000US$ nowadays in Kazakhstan. If you are planning to buy a horse just for meat, count on spending about 200 thousand tenge. It will fill your fridge, though!
Extra: more general information about horse riding in Central Asia.