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9 Things You Didn’t Know About The Akhal-Teke

Image source:  Artur Baboev - wikimedia

 One of the rarest horse breeds, most people only know the Akhal-Teke for that stunning coat with the metallic look. But there is a lot more to this unique breed that may surprise you. Check out some of these fascinating facts about the Akhal-Teke horse breed.

#1 – A threatened species

While you don’t usually see this with domestic animals, the Akhal-Teke is listed as threatened on the Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List (CPL). (akhal-teke.org)

#2 – National horse of Turkmenistan

The Akhal-Teke is the national emblem of Turkmenistan, where the breed originated. The breed is featured on their coat of arms, banknotes and even stamps. (wikepedia.org

Image source: Postal administration of Turkmenistan - Public Domain 
Image source: Postal administration of Turkmenistan – Public Domain

 

#3 – An ancient race horse

This rare breed is believed to be at least three thousand years old. Originally called Nisaean, Parthian, as well as other names, the breed was spoken of by Herodotus in his writing and also by the well-known Roman historian, Oppian. A race horse, they were bred for speed, beauty, size, and strength. They are still raced in Turkmenistan. (maakcenter.org

Image source:  Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - wikimedia
Image source:  Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – wikimedia

 

  #4 – No written history in English

According to the International Museum of the Horse, the origins of the Akhal-Teke breed has not been translated reliably in English, and much of what is said about (for example: that it originated in Russia) is false. (img.org)

Image source: Heather Moreton - wikimedia 
Image source: Heather Moreton – wikimedia

 

#5 – A foundation for the thoroughbred

While many think of the Thoroughbred as an influencer for so many breeds, with the Arabian as its ancestor, evidence suggests that Byerly Turk, one of the three founding stallions of the Thoroughbred breed was an Akhal-Teke. It makes sense if they are one of the world’s oldest and most well-known racing breeds. (wikepedia.org

#6 – An extreme endurance animal

The Akhal-Teke comes from a country where resource – food and water – are scarce. The breed naturally developed to survive in these conditions, making them an incredible Endurance horse. In 1935, a group of Turmen riders rode 2500 miles in 84 days. The trip included a three-day, 235 mile, crossing of a desert without water. The breed is known for extremely thin skin, which may have something to do with its desert habitat. (wikepedia.org)

Image source:  Artur Baboev - wikimedia
Image source:  Artur Baboev – wikimedia

#7 – About that metallic sheen…

This is probably the best-known feature of the breed and definitely its most unique. And why does it have such a high gloss? The hair of some Akhal-Teke’s is so “fine and silky that it gives a special metallic sheen to any colour” according to the International Association of Akhal-Teke Breeding (maakcenter.org)

#8 –  Lavishly Decorated

As you can guess by the fact that the breed is their national emblem, the Turkmens take great pride in their Akhal-Tekes. This includes decorating them with lavish tack and drapings. These “alagayysh” are highly-prized and made of gold, silver, bronze and precious stones. (www.akhal-teke.org)

#9 – An unusual trot

A study being conducted by Phil Case, who brought the breed to America, has shown that the Akhal-Teke’s trot is not the typical two-beat rhythm of other breeds. Instead, they step down with each foot individually – alternating between having just one foot on the ground, to two diagonal feet on the ground. This creates a smoother trot. Further study is still being conducted. (akhal-teke.org)

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