There are few horse breeds as intelligent and athletic as the Akhal-Teke. It is a Turkmenistan breed that is known for being one of the most beautiful strains in the world. In fact, the Akhal-Teke is Turkmenistan’s national emblem. It a very rare horse breed but one of the oldest types to have ever existed. Continue reading to learn more about the Akhal-Teke and determine if it is the breed for you.
One of the most notable features of the Akhal-Teke’s appearance is their extremely glossy coat. These horses have a beautiful metallic sheen that makes them shine like gold. The very fine hair that covers the skin is different than most horse’s hair. While other horses have an opaque center on each individual hair shaft, the Akhal-Teke instead has this space taken up by the transparent medulla which refracts light. Very fine hairs cover its thin skin which is fit for a horse that originates from the desert.
The Akhal-Teke sport a wide variety of colors. Although their main basecoat colors are Black, Bay, and Red, there are many variations of these colors including smoky black, buckskin, perlino, grey, palomino, and cremello. Some of the lighter coated horses have blue or hazel eyes.
The Akhal-Teke is a very tall horse with a body type that is often compared to that of a cheetah or greyhound. This breed’s muscly build and long legs give it a very athletic appearance. It also has a sparse mane and tail and a long thin neck.
The Akhal-Teke’s muscly appearance isn’t just for looks. This breed is as athletic as it looks and is known for its extreme endurance. Although the Akhal-Teke is now a horse primarily used for simple racing, jumping, and everyday riding, this breed used to be the main method of transportation for Turkmenistan nomads. These nomads also used the Akhal-Teke as war horses.
Akhal-Tekes are an extremely loyal breed of horse which might be part of the reason they are so loved by the Turkmenistan people. These horses bond very closely with their owners and are often considered a “one-owner horse” that will do anything for their person. These horses are tolerant and gentle, so they are good around children.
However, these horses need open space and lots of exercise because they get bored very easily. They are extremely intelligent horses that learn quickly and don’t do well on a constant routine. Although these horses soak in training well, Akhal-Tekes are full of spirit and can be a bit stubborn at times. They are very aware of their surroundings but are not timid or easily scared while riding.
The Akhal-Teke typically scores high in competitions for its unique trot. While other horse breeds have a two-beat trot rhythm, this one has a smoother trot that involves the horse switching between having one hoof on the ground or having two hooves diagonal from each other on the ground. Owners of these horses claim that this trot can be a little strange to get used to at first but is extremely comfortable once the rider acclimates.
Lifespan and Health Concerns
If you are considering getting an Akhal-Teke, you may want to know what to expect for your horse’s health. These horses have an average life expectancy of 20 years. There a several health issues that the Akhal-Teke is genetically disposed to. Because of this breed’s lack of genetic diversity, there are three main issues that an Akhal-Teke might be born with.
Cervical vertebral malformation, or Wobbler Syndrome, causes a horse to have very stiff and uncoordinated movements due to a deformed vertebrae. The deformity causes the brain to mix up messages sent to the other limbs of the body. While horses like the Akhal-Teke can be born with this condition, some horses get Wobbler Syndrome from an injury, especially while the horse is still young.
This condition affects the wellbeing of the horse and will make simple movements like cantering, halting, and walking up hills difficult. Horses with this syndrome will often fall or accidentally step on their own heels creating bad cuts or possibly lameness. Although this condition does not result in death for the horse, it can make life very difficult. Treatment will be required including surgery, medication, and physiotherapy.
Cryptorchidism is a condition that causes some male horses to be born without either one or both of their testes being able to descend into their scrotum. Horses with this condition are referred to as ridglings. Most of the time, ridglings are unable to produce viable sperm and therefore cannot reproduce. However, they still can produce testosterone.
This condition has a strong behavioral effect since these horses are so difficult to neuter. The lingering presence of testosterone results in stallion-like behavior. Many riders find the temperamental and sometimes aggressive nature of these horses to be extremely difficult to manage. This makes them a bad fit for beginning riders and individuals looking for a horse that’s easier to ride and train.
Naked Foal Syndrome
Naked foal syndrome is a serious condition that typically results in death for the newborn foal a few days or months after its birth. At the very most, these horses might live up to three years. This condition is thought to be unique to Akhal-Tekes and is not shared by other horse breeds. As the name suggests, foals with naked foal syndrome are born without any hair. They are often delivered with tooth and jaw abnormalities as well and can deal with a lot of pain and digestion issues while they are alive.
A lot of research has been done on naked foal syndrome, and researchers have been able to identify the gene that causes the disease. In 2017 these scholars were able to develop a test that will help breeders to identify horses that carry the naked foal syndrome gene and hopefully prevent these horses from being able to breed. If you are someone seeking to breed an Akhal-Teke, you should be aware of this possible condition and do what you can to prevent it.
The Akhal-Teke is a very rare breed of horse. There are an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 Akhal-Teke in the world. Although there are several Akhal-Teke breeders in the United States, most of these horses still live in Turkmenistan or Russia. There are so few Akhal-Teke left that this magnificent breed is now considered a threatened species.
A brief glance at history reveals part of the reason why the Akhal Teke is now threatened. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Russia had control over Turkmenistan. During this time, they outlawed raids and tribal wars of the nomads, banned Turkmen from owning horses, forced nomads into apartments, and sent their horses to Horse Meat Production Units. This posed a great threat to the horse’s population, but this horse breed eventually became popular in Russia and obviously survived.
Although much time has passed, the Akhal-Teke has failed to become as popular as other horse breeds. Many people simply do not know that this amazing horse exists, and the Akhal Teke has a different appearance than many of the more popular horse breeds in North America. As a result, the number of these horses available are very low.
Some people on social media have started to take notice of this breed because the Akhal Teke is recognized for being a great racing horse. There have been several famous Akhal Tekes that have helped promote this horse to the rest of the world. While there used to only be a couple of Akhal Tekes in America, there are now over 1,000.
Although there used to be a time not too long ago where people would need to import an Akhal Teke from Russia, there are now many Akhal Tekes available in America from private owners and breeders. If you are looking to buy a horse, you can expect to pay anywhere from $4,500 to $35,000. These horses are definitely not cheap due to how rare they are.
It is not too difficult to track down an Akhal Teke. Popular sites like EquineNow.com often have many listings for this breed of horse which range from $4,500 to $15,000. Of course, there are many factors that will determine the price of an Akhal Teke including sex, color, metallic coat, size, age, and health. Also, whether the horse has been trained, has won any prizes from proven racing or has a significant jumping ability will determine the price of the horse.
Is the Akhal Teke the Horse for You?
Although the Akhal Teke is a rare horse that can be a bit pricey, they are a great breed for any level of rider. These horses are unique beauties that are sure to make great companions. Their metallic coat and extreme athleticism let them stand out from other horse breeds.