In 2004 Alexandra set out to retrace the historic expedition of a group of Turkmen riders who rode from Ashgabad, the capital of Turkmenistan, all the way to Moscow on the legendary Turkmen Akhal Teke horses in the 1930s. Said to be the oldest and purest horse breed in the world, forefathers of the Arab and the Thoroughbred, the Akhal Teke are known for their powers of endurance, having been bred in the Kara Kum Desert that covers most of Turkmenistan, where they adapted over the centuries to the severe heat. Highly intelligent and refined, their coats have a unique structure of the hair, which lends a distinctive sheen. This shiny coat of the palominos in particular led to their nickname ‘Golden Horses’.
In 1935 Akhal Teke horses were ridden by their Turkmen mounts 2,600 miles from Ashgabad to Moscow in all of 84 days. The ride included three days travelling 215 miles across the Kara Kum Desert without water. Alexandra decided to repeat this journey, like her predecessors, in an attempt to prove the incredible endurance powers of the relatively unknown Akhal Teke horse.
Setting off in the spring of 2004, Alexandra’s team rode from Ashgabad through the Kara Kum Desert north to the Turkmen/Kazakh border. The landscape changed here from arid desert to never-ending steppe, as they skirted the shrinking Aral Sea. After six weeks of riding they reached the Kazakh/Russian border where they encountered a huge setback; the Russians refused to admit the horses into Russia. Aborting the expedition, Alexandra decided to finish the second half the following year.
However, it was only in 2006 that she was able to gather the necessary documents for the horses and in the autumn of that year they set off from south of Orenburg, passing through snow-covered wooden villages to ride all the way to Moscow’s Red Square.