Georgia is located at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Asia, with Russia on its northern border, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the south and east, and the vast Black Sea to the west. The Greater Caucasus Mountain range forms the northern border and it is within this landscape that you ride, primarily the area known as Tusheti.
The only access to this region is a path which was built by the Soviets after the second world war and it crosses a pass at almost 3,000m. For this reason the region is only accessible by car during the summer months (June to October) and so its inhabitants - the Tush - still live according to their ancient customs and lifestyles. Before the construction of this path the Tush people would spend their whole lives within their mountainous region.
In the 17th century, the kingdom of Kakheti which is located at the bottom of the mountains, was under constant attack from the Persians and Turks. Their king (Erekle II) asked for help from the highlanders despite fearing them. Under the leadership of Zezva Gaprindauli, the Tush and a neighbouring ethnic group called Xevsurs, descended from the mountains to fight the Turks. They liberated the village of Bakhtrioni and King Erekle II was so pleased he asked the Tush what they wanted in payment. As they had no need for money or gold but needed land in the valleys to make their life easier, he proposed that they gallop his horse from the village until he dropped dead and that all the territories in-between would belong to the Tush! Since that day, all the land between Bakhtrioni and where the horse died are Tush territories and three villages sprang up - Alvany, Zemo-Alvany and Laliskhuri. In the current day more than 50% of the Tush population now live part of their year in the valleys, returning to the mountains for the summer months. Some Tush natives remain semi-nomadic, whilst a few families do still live in the mountains year-round.
Horses are an important part of Tush history and form a link between the different ethnic groups. It is said that a Tush is born on his horse. Horses are primarily used for working - gathering sheep flocks, carrying cheeses or other produce. There are still very few roads in Tusheti and so horses remain the easiest, fastest and most comfortable way to travel.