Asia - Turkmenistan

Akhal Teke
Photo supplied by Horse Directory Australia

The Akhal-Teke or Turkmen, as it is sometimes called, is the oldest surviving cultured equine breed and has been bred in the desert oases of Turkmenistan, north of Iran and east of the Caspian Sea, for some 3,000 years. It is believed that the breed was influenced by Arabian and Persian blood. Due to the isolation of it's homeland the Akhal-Teke's own unique features have remained largely undiluted for centuries. In the harsh desert with extremely hot days, cold nights and meagre rations developed a tough, lean horse with fast paces, stamina and tremendous hardiness.
Traditionally the Turkmen kept their horses in the open, tied to robes and wrapped in felt with only their head uncovered. They were fed meagre amounts of lucerne, barley and mutton fat. Foals were weaned early and raced as yearlings. The Akhal-Teke is renown for its devotion to its rider. It is believed that this was achieved by keeping a young horse in a pit with people throwing stones at it. The only person to be nice and to offer food, would be the owner, teaching the horse to trust no other person. These days the Akhal-Teke is stabled at night and kept on grassland during the day. Like most other horses they are now raced as two or three year olds.
In 1941the first Stud Book for Central Asian breeds was published and included 287 Akhal-Teke stallions and 468 mares. In the fifth publication of the Stud Book in 1975, the breed was recognized as pure bred.
The Akhal-Teke has
influenced the development of several modern horse breeds and is now popular outside of its traditional homeland of Turkmenistan.

unique lean, dry overall appearance - no other breed shares its distinctive features
Head: very fine head; large, expressive, sometimes almond shaped eyes; wide nostrils; long, beautifully shaped, high set ears, swivelling on their axis, alert to sound and movement
Neck: high set, long, straight, often thin
Shoulders: sloping, high withers
Body: long, lean, body; often weak back; narrow chest; shallow ribcage; well defined muscles, smoothly hugging the bones; muscular croup; narrow hindquarters
Legs: slim limbs; long muscular thighs, strong, straight forelegs; long forearms; long hindlegs tend to be sickle shaped with cow hocks
Feet: small, hard
Coat: thin skin; silky hair
Mane and Tail: spars
Color: bay, chestnut, black, grey, brown, often with luminous golden shine
Temperament: intelligent, spirited, sometimes difficult temperament
Qualities: speed, stamina, remarkable hardiness, athletic, comfortable gaits, easy to train, adaptable

Akhal-Tekes are good riding horses and suitable for showjumping and dressage. Their great stamina and ability to cover long distances enables them to excel at endurance riding.