The Akhal-Teke is a breed of horse that originated in Turkmenistan.
The breed's early ancestry is uncertain, but it is known that
tribal inhabitants of the region that is now Turkmenistan
used the Akhal-Teke to raid. In the late 19th century, Russia
defeated Turkmenistan and made it part of its empire, after
which a Russian general who had noticed and appreciated the
horses during battle gave them the name Akhal-Teke and began
to breed them.
The Akhal-Teke experienced a sharp drop in numbers when the
Soviet Union mandated the slaughter of horses for meat, the
breed's numbers' dwindling at one point to 1,250. Since then,
the breed has been revived so that about 6,600 Akhal-Tekes
exist today, the majority of which can be found in Turkmenistan
Early in the 20th century, the Akhal-Teke was crossed with
the Thoroughbred horse in an effort t make a fast long-distance
race horse. While these crossbreeds had less resilience and
endurance than purebred Akhal-Teke horses, their bloodline
has irrevocably influenced the modern Akhal-Teke; all Akhal-Tekes
living today have Thoroughbred ancestors.
Also known as the golden horse, the Akhal-Teke has a coat
with a slight metallic shine. This quality is particularly
apparent in palomino and buckskin Akhal-Tekes, who appear
to have shining golden coats. In addition to buckskin and
palomino, the Akhal-Teke can be chestnut, bay, gray, or black.
The hair of its mane and tail is sparse.
In height, the Akhal-Teke measures between 14.2 and 16 hands.
It typically weighs about 1,000 pounds, though its weight
should be proportional to its height. The Akhal-Teke has a
long, slim body with a slightly muscled back, and a relatively
small head with a profile that is either straight or slightly
convex. Its ears are along and its eyes may be hooded or almond-shaped.
The Akhal-Teke is a high-spirited and strong-willed yet sensitive
horse. It values its master's company and attention, and tends
only to respond and take well to one master.
Having been bred in harsh conditions by nomadic people, often
having to subsist on limited food and water, the Akhal-Teke
is a tough horse with remarkable stamina and adapatability.
For this reason, it is well-suited to sport, and is popular
in races and endurance riding. It is also a skilled and graceful
show jumper. The Akhal-Teke is used in other sporting events
as well, such as dressage and eventing.