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28 April 2017   
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Turkmenistan Breeds of Horse

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Akhal-Teke




The Akhal-Teke is a strain of the ancient Turkmene or Turkoman horse which traces back over 3,000 years and was much favoured by mountain warriors. It is a small, wiry horse, giving an appearance of being long and lean. The average size is between 14.2 h.h. and 15.2 h.h. It has a very fine head, large expressive eyes and long beautiful shaped ears; a long often thin neck set high on the shoulders; the shoulders are sloping with high withers; a long body and often weak back; the loins are often poor and lacking muscle; narrow , sloping hindquarters with muscular croup and long muscular thighs and a low set tail. The forelegs are strong and straight with long forearms; the hindlelegs are long and tend to be sickle shaped with cow hocks; small hard feet; a sparse fine mane and tail and thin skin. The colour may be bay or chestnut, often with a remarkable gold sheen, also grey and black.

This breed is the only remaining pure strain of ancient Turkmene horse, over the centuries it's ancestors have born a succession of different names: Massaget, Parthian, Nisean, Persian, Turkmene and finally, Akhal-Teke. Excavations in southern Turkmenistan have uncovered skeletal remains of fine-boned horses dating back to 2400 BC. The breed name 'Alkhal-Teke' dates back only to the end of the nineteenth century. It consists of two words: "Akhal," the long oasis nestled in the foothills of the Kopet Dag Mountains (once a part of ancient Persia, now Turkmenistan) and "Teke," after the Turkmen tribe, the dominant nomadic people who inhabited the oasis and raised the Turkmene horse. The breed was raised, over many centuries, to withstand the extreme conditions of the desert and it has developed into a tough lean horse with fast paces, stamina and tremendous hardiness. However, the breed is known to have a difficult or unpredictable temperament, possibly as a result of it's harsh environment.

The hardiness of the breed is as a result of the rigorous lifestyle imposed upon it over thousands of years. The horses were not stabled by the Turkmen, but were wrapped in felt, with only their heads uncovered. Kept on tethers, they had to endure fiercely hot days and cold nights. They were fed on meagre diets of dry Lucerne, barley and some mutton fat. The foals were weaned very young and the horses were raced as yearlings. Today they are kept more on modern standards; stabled at night and out grazing by day. They are still used for racing, but they are allowed to mature to two or three year old, as is the custom in thoroughbred racing. As a riding horse they are spirited and athletic, and make good general purpose horses, including dressage and show jumping. Their phenomenal stamina makes them superb mounts for endurance or long distant riding. In 1935 Akhal-Teke horses travelled from Ashkabad to Moscow, crossing the Karakum desert, a distance of 2,580 miles (4,152km) in 84 days.



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