On the 21st of May in 2007, at Akhal-Teke EST Stud in Estonia a foal was born by artificial insemination with the frozen semen - the unique black filly Guli-Star.
Unique in several ways. Guli-Star is a purebred foal by Turkmen Akhal-Teke stallion Gulistan, who himself had died more than 25 years ago. Significant is the fact that Gulistan was one of the first sons of Kaplan.

As this remarkable stallion, who is still quite unknown for breeders, has finally arrived also to Akhal-Teke breeding, then we wanted to introduce him more closely. For this we visited Juris Astic at 3 Vitolu Stalli in Latvia – as he was the man at whom Gulistan spent most of his life. This coming story is written by memories of Juris Astic.

From early age of Gulistan`s life we know that he was born in 1965 in Turkmenistan at Stud farm Komsomol, being one of the first (if not THE first) son of Kaplan. Kaplan – who became later a founder of his own sireline. The dam of Gulistan Djakhan (Djeiran) was a granddaughter of 85 Dor Bairam from father`s side and of 569 Skak from mother`s side. Gulistan was a copy of his father Kaplan not only by his colour and markings, but he had also got extraordinary high grading from VNIIK – 9 for type and pedigree, 10 for measurements (was measured as 168cm in Latvia) and 8 for conformation.

Gulistan was found by Latvian sportsmen at the competition among Soviet Union countries, where directly from he was bought to Latvia. Though in the beginning Gulistan was used in show-jumping, then in Latvia, thanks to his wonderful movements, he was started to train more in dressage where he achieved a high level. At the beginning of 1970-ies Gulistan was started to use in Latvia also in sporthorse breeding, mainly on mares with Latvian blood. Most of the mares had also Hannoverian, Trakehner and Thoroughbred blood in their pedigrees. As at that time was in Soviet Union so-called “era of quota fulfilments” – there had to be certain amount of sportsmen to achieve the title of “masters of sport” (the highest level of riders in former USSR – K.L.) or “candidate” in a year – then the sportsmen also needed the suitable horses for this criteria. To make the heavier horses lighter, the horses of Hannoverian, Trakehner and Thoroughbred breed were used in breeding. But Juris Astic, knowing Akhal-Tekes and their superb sport capabilities, started to use Akhal-Tekes in sporthorse breeding. Reluctance to this was enormous – starting from the level of collective farms finishing with the ministry. Nobody could understand why one should use in sporthorse breeding such a “weird” horse. To lighten the breed, most of the mares were bred with Hannoverians and Trakehners, what was left by them – with Thoroughbreds; and only those few who were left by all latters, could be bred with Gulistan.

Thus, Gulistan got to breed only 4-5 mares in a year and therefore the number of his offsprings was not remarkable if to compare to the stallions from other sporthorse breeds. But the results of these matings were superb. Though the breeders did not approve these crossings, the sportsmen just loved them. The offsprings of Gulistan were good both in show-jumping and dressage, but especially capable were they in eventing and that also at all-Soviet Union level. We can name such horses as eventers Grim and Gram, whose dams were daughters of Latvian mares by Thoroughbred stallion Mius; and Graciya – also out of a half-blood mare. Juris Astic himself won with Grim in 1980-ies at all-Soviet Union eventing Championship the title of “Champion among young sporthorses”. Gram competed in Latvia at four championships, winning 3 of them and with him also sportsmen fulfilled the criteria of “master of sport”. There were also show-jumpers Geba out of half-Trakehner mare and Goba out of Latvian cross. The first of them, Geba, got from all-Soviet Union Championship even to the European Championship under Swiss rider. In dressage there was Gamma (whose dam was Trakehner-Arab cross) competing at high level at the class of “young sportsmen” and “juniors”.

In Latvia Gulistan was used in breeding mainly in 1971-1974, after that for 4 years he was used intensively in sport and during that he was not used for breeding. In the end of 1970-ies Gulistan was taken over to Belorussia, to the Stud farm Dovator, to be used in Trakehner breed. At the same stud farm was “tested” besides Gulistan such Akhal-Teke stallion as 672 Akbar, line Arab. Akbar`s daughter Ennam (dam Elsona) became a mare family founder in Trakehner breed (from there also the palomino and buckskin colour is originated in this breed). Whereas Gulistan`s offsprings inherited strongly their father`s type, then after couple of years he was taken off from Trakehner breeding – as breeders did not favour this specific Akhal-Teke type in sporthorses. His offsprings therefore were used mainly only in sport, but still his blood was continued in Trakehner breed through some of his daughters. Returning back to Latvia from Dovator Stud farm, Gulistan was sold to insemination station, where in 1981 his semen was also frozen. After that unfortunately Gulistan “disappeared”, his further destiny is not known. Juris Astic wanted to use him in breeding again in the beginning of 80-ies and started to look for him. He got to know that Gulistan was sold to a collective farm, but exactly which one and also where and when he died, is unknown.

In the end of 80-ies a thesis was presented in Moscow what compared the effect of three stallions of different breeds to sporthorse breeding according to their offsprings – one of these stallions besides a Thoroughbred and Latvian horse was Gulistan.

Though Gulistan did not leave behind any sireline in Latvia, he still “lives” on by mare families. Even after several generations he often “appears” in his descendants. Despite of great general reluctance, Gulistan and his offsprings were highly valued and that especially among sportsmen – even now we can find horse sale ads what say that the horse has certain amount of Hannoverian (as breed), Trakehner etc and certain amount of Gulistan (by name!) blood.
And of course we are very happy that by the end Gulistan has “arrived” also to Akhal-Teke breeding and especially glad we are to see his first purebred foal Guli-Star who already at very early age is very promising. Hopefully we can get even more foals of Gulistan in future.

On our behalf we want to thank Juris Astic first of all for that thanks to him we found Gulistan`s semen; and also for the wonderful story about Gulistan. Juris Astic himself works still at 3 Vitolu Stalli in Latvia, being the main specialist of horse breeding there. This stud farm has been at very high level through the years producing superb sporthorses. For example, during the Soviet Union time were at this stables under Juris` training 9 sporthorses who belonged to the all-Soviet Union riding team (including Gulistan`s offsprings). This stud farm is also nowadays one of the best farms in Latvia and that also on the European level – such names as Argentinus, Levantos I,
Calando IV etc speak already for themselves.

Kätlin Leisson and Kaido Puusepp
Akhal-Teke Inform, 2008