About Akhal-Teke Horses
Akhal-Teke horses originated
from Turkmenistan and are best known for their intelligence, speed and
The Akhal-Teke typically
stands between 14.2 and 16 hands (58 and 64 inches, 147 and 163 cm) and there
are currently about 6,600 Akhal-Tekes in the world, found primarily in
Turkmenistan and Russia, with some also located in Europe and North America.
The Akhal-Teke bloodline
dates back thousands of years in Turkmenistan when selectively bred Akhal-Teke
were used for raids and fights for the Russian Empire.
The Akhal-Teke breed has
influenced many other breeds, including several Russian breeds. There has been
extensive crossbreeding with the Thoroughbred to create a fast, long-distance
racehorse and as a result all Akhal-Tekes are thought to have Thoroughbred
ancestors. The Russians printed the first stud book that included the
Akhal-Teke in 1941 along with 700 other horse breeds.
Few breeds of horses have as wide
a diversity of color as the Akhal-Teke. They can be grey, black, dapple, white,
crème, chestnut, bay, buckskin, or palomino color sometimes with a blue or
They often have a distinctive
metallic sheen. This color is so special that it has its own name, voronaya, in
Russian and is the result of the “cream gene” a dilution gene that produces a
perlino and cremello color.
Many Akhal-Teke’s have a
special glow to their coat. This is caused by the structure of the hair; the
opaque core is reduced in size and in some areas may be absent altogether. The
transparent part of the hair (the medulla) takes up this space, and acts like a
light-pipe, bending light through one side of the hair and refracting it out
the other side, often with a golden cast or metallic sheen.
Akhal-Teke’s also commonly
have blue eyes. Some even have a “marbled” eye color which can be partially
blue. The effect is quite stunning.
The breed suffered greatly
when the Soviet Union required horses to be slaughtered for meat, even though
local Turkmen refused to eat them. At one point only 1,250 horses remained and
export from the Soviet Union was banned. The government of Turkmenistan now
uses the horses as diplomatic presents as well as auctioning a few to raise
money for improved horse breeding programs.