Descended from the ancient Turkmenian horse found in the southern region of the modern country of Turkmenistan, the Akhal-Teke was a favoured cavalry mount and racehorse for 3,000 years before facing a survival challenge following the Russian occupation of Turkmenistan in 1917 – at its lowest point some estimates put figures at just 1,250. Thanks to global breeding programmes numbers have increased significantly. In addition to their motherland there are breeders in Russia and Central Asia, in Germany and other European countries as well as the USA, Uruguay and Australia.
Competent sport horses
Akhal-Tekes have excellent gaits and are competent sport horses in the areas of dressage, eventing and jumping, and are acknowledged as exceptional endurance athletes thanks to their stamina and courage. The breed is native to a barren environment and has adapted to a diet that is low in quantity but high in protein, with some even fed on butter, eggs and barley.
Elegant and refined
Akhal-Tekes are recognised for their elegance, with a refined head and light expressive eyes. The ears, neck and legs are long and slender, adding to their air of grace. They stand about 15.1 to 15.2hh and have small, hard hooves which often remain unshod. Devotees are drawn to their colour, which can be bay, black, dun, grey, chestnut or the highly desirable pale gold or palomino. The coat is very fine, resulting in a sparse mane and tail. Most boast a metallic sheen, which has been the subject of several studies.
Learn more about the breed at www.imh.org/exhibits/online/akhal-teke.
Text: Brigitte Billings, Photography: Makarova Viktoria
This article first appeared in the February 2015 issue of HQ magazine. For great subscription offers visitCoolmags.