Life and Death on Ak-Kula Hippodrome

How money and drama intertwine in Kyrgyzstan’s nomad horse racing

Hundreds of horses live in stables right next to the Bishkek hippodrome of Ak-Kula © Danil Usmanov
Delica was one of the nine horses that died on Ak-Kula Hippodrome on the race day© Danil Usmanov
Groomer strokes Stikhiya shortly before the race © Danil Usmanov
Stikhiya is in agony — she dropped during top baige, and horsemen try to revive her © Danil Usmanov
Shuke hugs jockey Renat after winning the race © Danil Usmanov
Foals run around the arena of the stables №11 © Danil Usmanov
During the races, jockeys can swear at one another and whip with a lash when passing by © Danil Usmanov
Jockeys hate being asked about their age and don’t hesitate to lie, adding five-seven years © Danil Usmanov
Jockeys and horsemen of Ak-Kula Hippodrome © Danil Usmanov
Jockey Orozbek receives the prize after coming first in top baige © Danil Usmanov
After the awards ceremony jockey Orozbek looks tired and upset—another horse from his stables died during the race © Danil Usmanov
A horse with an IV line heads to stables after racing © Danil Usmanov