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Asia's King of Horses - The Turkmen Akhal-teke


The unusual conformation of the Akhal-Teke is perfect for its desert environment. Photo: Turkmen Akhal-teke Horse Ride

The Akhal-Tekes come from the Kara-Kum Desert in Turkmenia. It is a place for the toughest people and equines. The Turkmens would never have survived without the Akhal-Teke, and vice versa. Turkmens were the first desert people to produce a horse ideal for the environment.

  Today’s Akhal-Teke is a race, sports and endurance horse, and a riveting circus performer. Smaller Akhal-Tekes make great Western horses because of their quickness. It is one of the most distinctive horses in the world. Nearly everything about it is exotic and outlandish. Experience of Russians, themselves a race with an Asiatic mentality, shows that some Westerners have a difficulty perceiving the unusual nature of everything about that fiery steed born to challenge the wind of the desert and catch the fancy of Alexander the Great and a long line of historic figures of Greece, Rome, and the Levant.


The Akhal-teke is impressive under saddle. Photo: Turkmen Akhal-teke Horse Ride
The Akhal-Teke’s conformation makes it very different from other breeds. Some authorities maintain that the Akhal-Teke incorporates almost every conventional conformational failing... and, nevertheless, he is amazingly beautiful and divine, an equine aristocrat. This confusion comes from using conventional yardsticks to judge an extremely unconventional equine.

Its body is tube-like; the breast is narrow; the back is long; the rib-cage is shallow; the loin is long and unpronounced. The quarters are narrow but spare and sinewy; the croup is quite long, muscular and with a normal sloping angle. The withers are high, long and well muscled. The shoulders are long, with good slope. The coat is exceptionally fine and the skin thin, in character with a horse of desert origins.

The head is fine and elegant, in harmony with the body, with wide cheeks. The nose line is straight or slightly dish-like, and the big eyes give an impression of boldness. The nostrils are wide, thin and dry, and there is width between the long, beautifully shaped alert ears. The head joins the long, lean neck at an angle of 45 degrees. The neck is set very high and almost vertically to the body. The forelock, mane and tail are short and silky.

The legs are long, clean and dense with clearly defined sinews. The forelegs are usually set close together and are straight; the forearm is long. The hindlegs are long, the hocks are carried high off the ground. The feet are small but regular, the heels are set low, the hoofs are small and hard.

The Akhal-Teke’s movements are unique. The way he carries his body, turns his head, shifts his sensitive ears, rears, etc, is fascinating. The Akhal-Tekes are products of the sand desert, and the style of their pace is ideal for sands. It is specifically “soft and elastic.” The Akhal-Teke’s desert cousin, the Arabian, comes from a stony desert, and he usually walks lifting a leg high, with his body shaking. Though the Akhal-Teke’s pasterns are somewhat more upright, he walks in a much smoother manner, sort of sliding over the ground in a flowing movement without swinging the body, which is better balanced. The push is “elastic” but powerful. The trot is also free-sliding, and the gallop is easy and long.

Among 250 equine breeds known today in the world the Akhal-Teke horse is universally considered one of the most ancient ones. Of ancient noblesse, older than that of the Arabian or the English Thoroughbred, the Akhal-Teke is a full-blooded horse that is second to none.

 
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