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The Akhal-Teke

The Akhal-Teke horse is an ancient 3,000 year old breed originating from Turmenistan.  Recent DNA research from the University of Kentucky suggests that they are the oldest domesticated light breed of horse in the world.  Slender, long legged equine remains have been found near the Caspian Sea that date back as far as 5,000 years. Their ancestors have been known by many names, Nisean, Turkoman, Turk, and Parthian, however, the word Akhal-Teke emerged from the KaraKum desert from the “Teke” tribe that lived near the “Akhal” oasis, thus they’re extraordinary name.   The horses were treasured as family and often slept in the tents of their owners.  Three thousand years of use as raiding and war horses created tremendous endurance and stamina as well as cat like reflexes.  When the Soviet Union invaded and took over the region, the horses were all but wiped from existence and it is this and the fact that the Teke tribesman kept their horses in secret that has robbed the Akhal-Teke of modern day prominence.  Gradually the value of the breed was realized and they were saved and bred as race horses.  Many Akhal-Teke races are still held in Turkmenistan and Russia today. 


The first official Akhal-Teke’s were brought to the United States in 1979 by Phil and Margo Case and were imported from Turkmenistan.  The country’s resistance to allowing any exportation of their treasured horses as also kept the “golden horses” from the modern stage.  There are an estimated 5,000 worldwide and about 500 purebreds in North America. Despite relatively low population numbers in comparison to other sport horse breeds, several Akhal-Teke’s have been successful in the upper levels of the equestrian world and have competed at Grand Prix level dressage, the Advanced division in Eventing and in the Tevis in endurance.




One of the most notable characteristics of the Akhal-Teke is their golden coat color that attracts attention where ever they go.  It is a result of a longer portion of the hair follicle being translucent.  All Akhal-Teke’s carry this property to their coat but the golden buckskins, palominos, bays and blacks tend to give off the most shine. 


Akhal-Tekes are physically characterized as long, slender horses, with hooded eyes and long sleek ears. Their elegant necks are set high on the chest and they should be level across the topline.  They are narrow chested but deep in the girth and are generally longer than they are tall.  Average height for a Teke is between 15-16.2 hands tall though some are taller.  They are a hot blood like their Arabian cousin but generally tend to be mellower in temperament.  Teke’s are notorious for the deep bound which they form with their owners.  Wonderful trail horses due to their smooth flowing gates, the Akhal-Teke adapts well to which ever discipline is chosen for them.  Miss labeled as ill tempered by several breed books with little to no practical knowledge of the breed, Akhal-Tekes typically thrive on human companionship.





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