Known for their greyhound-like appearance & coats that often gleam with a metallic shimmer, the Akhal-Teke horse is one of the easiest breeds to recognize by sight. They are quite simply built for speed & stamina in hot weather.
Thought to be over 3000 years old, Akhal-Teke horses are descendant of the ancient Scythian type horse & named for the Teke tribe of the Akhal oasis. Prior to being claimed & named, the breed evolved their signature long, lean look (& amazing coat colors) from the hard life of a plains animal. Scarce resources & large predators caused them to develop long high-set necks, lean legs & natural golden coat camouflage.
Once controlled breeding began, extreme physical isolation & a strong sense of tradition maintained relatively pure bloodlines. The Teke tribe has always been nomadic & their horses prized as fast, hardy war mounts. Over time horses became an obvious measure of wealth, so they have always been well cared for & treated like family.
While their breeding may have once been highly traditional, the Akhal-Teke impressed upon the Russians as well. During the Russian occupation private owners were stripped of their animals which were taken to large, state-owned stud farms. Many owners chose to flee the country rather than relinquish their prized possessions.
It was later decreed that the animals taken to the stud farms were to be slaughtered for food, so breeders released as many of the animals to their native desert lands as they could. These actions by dedicated breeders probably saved the Akhal-Teke breed.
A Long Ride
In 1935, fifteen Akhal-Teke animals were ridden over 1800 miles from Ashgabat to Moscow (in 84 days). The ride was undertaken to demonstrate their amazing strength to Stalin, in the hopes of earning his permission to continue their breeding. The plan worked.
The modern animals are not so very different from their ancient ancestors. This is in large part due to the tribes who have always loved & bred them. In 1991 Turkmenistan was liberated & they define horse breeding as a nationalistic concern, even an art form, giving it a large amount of credibility. The Akhal-Teke has also been declared a national treasure & their lovely image graces the state seal.
Today Akhal-Teke enthusiasts can be found all over the world & the number of farms are growing. This is a cherished breed, as they are the last remaining strain of the mighty Turkman.
Average height 14.2 – 16 hands
Strong natural & soft gaits
Built for stamina & speed
Surefooted & strong
Head is long & light
Large, expressive eyes
Long slender neck with short, fine mane
Narrow in the chest with a long back
Legs are slender & long
Spirited with high energy
Bold & brave
Bright & able
General riding horse
Eventing and show horse
*All links open in a new window
International Association of Akhal-Teke Breeders
Akhal-Teke Association of America
Akhal-Teke Society of America | Facebook
Australian Akhal-Teke Association
Akhal-Teke Association of France