From the way their coats glimmer in the sun to their loyal personality, the Akhal-Teke is an incredible breed. One of the oldest known domesticated horses in the world, this equine is a wonder to behold!
The Akhal-Teke’s beauty, grace, endurance, stamina, and speed made them talented racehorses. Akhal-Tekes also perform well in dressage, jumping events, and pleasure riding. But, their incredible devotion to their riders is what really makes this horse shine. Read below to learn more about this ancient and glorious breed.
Akhal-Teke Horse Characteristics
The Akhal-Teke horse is one of the most beautiful and graceful horses worldwide. Their long, flat-muscled builds and chiseled physiques suit them for performance in extreme weather conditions in Turkmenistan.
Their narrow necks lead to delicate, accentuated heads. They wear intelligent expressions. Their almond-shaped eyes are typically dark in color, though the occasional lucky Akhal-Teke has blue eyes. The ears are thin, pricked, and swivel when alert.
The Akhal-Teke’s most distinguishing feature is the glistening metallic sheen of its coat. It stretches tight and thin across the powerful body, shimmering in the sun as it gallops. Their fine coats and sparse manes and tails make grooming easy.
Akhal-Teke Horse Size
Fully-grown Akhal-Teke horses are 14 to 16 hands (56 to 64 inches) in height. An adult generally weighs 900 to 1,000 pounds.
Akhal-Teke Horse Personality
Akhal-Teke horses have even temperaments, though they are best suited for experienced riders. They’re loyal and bond intensely with their riders. Some have even been known to develop protective instincts for their owners.
The Akhal-Teke is not ideal for children or horse riding lessons. They don’t like the touch of strangers and can become disgruntled if new people come too close. Akhal-Tekes are proud, intelligent steeds with a long history of making their riders proud.
Akhal-Teke Horse History
The Akhal-Teke breed is widely regarded as the most ancient horse breed in the world. Excavists have found Akhal-Teke bones dating back to 2,400 BC in the Karakum desert of Turkmenistan, where the breed originated. Centuries later, the purebred horse still remains an honorable symbol of the nation.
Akhal-Tekes once lived nomadically with their owners (much like the Gypsy Vanner breed). In the Karakum desert, they became accustomed to little food and water and extreme temperatures. The horses are resilient survivors trained to save their person.
When Turkmenistan became part of Russia in 1881, Akhal-Teke numbers sadly began to dwindle. The early Soviet years were somewhat dark for this majestic breed. Some were sent for unnecessary slaughter. To offset this, dedicated people established the first breeding farms.
This was around the same time the breed was officially named Akhal-Teke. The name originated from the Teke Turkmen tribe, who resided in the Akhal oasis. As word of these athletic, noble steeds spread from east to west, over 200 were shipped to Great Britain between the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Akhal-Teke didn’t arrive in America until 1979. Today, it shines as one of the fastest racehorses in the nation, even though their numbers are small.
The ancient Akhal-Teke horse contributed to the Arabian and English Thoroughbred breeds. Despite these contributions, the bloodline remains mostly purebred. They are currently experiencing a surge of popularity throughout the world.
How to Care for an Akhal-Teke Horse
Akhal-Tekes can withstand harsh conditions but cannot withstand a harsh owner. They do best with a gentle, experienced hand that can guide them to become a race or riding horse. Once you develop a relationship, they will make a loving, dutiful, and loyal steed.
Due to their willful personalities, Akhal-Tekes need experienced, professional trainers. They may develop stubborn temperaments if you don’t treat them with respect and kindness.
Akhal-Tekes bond intensely with their owners — building a relationship based on mutual trust is essential. They tend to bond with one person, responding to them and them alone. Many Akhal-Teke owners say their horses can even read their minds.
Nutrition and Feeding
In their early days in the Karakum desert, Akhal-Tekes grew accustomed to surviving with little water and food. They mostly ate protein-rich grains provided by their tribes. Today, Akhal-Tekes do well on high-quality hay, grass, and some occasional grain or supplements.
The Human Society recommends feeding your horse one to two percent of their body weight in hay or other roughage daily. That means a full-grown Akhal-Teke (who weighs, say, 927 pounds) should consume between 9-18 pounds of hay every day. You should provide cool, clean water to them at all times.
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Coat Color And Grooming
The Akhal-Teke’s unique metallic coat makes them stand out from all other horse breeds. The bay, black, dun, and chestnut coats don’t shine quite as brightly as the gray and palomino, but they all glisten, nonetheless.
Many Akhal-Teke horses carry the gene for creme-dilution, resulting in palomino, cremello, and perlino coats. All three of these colors have a golden, metallic sheen, while the gray coat emits a silvery glow. The purebred Akhal-Teke shines in the sun!
Their fine coats need brushing and bathing one to two times per week. On the other hand, you should inspect and clean their hooves daily. This helps prevent infection and injury.
Akhal-Teke Horse Health Problems
The Akhal-Teke horse has a life span of about 20 years. When well-cared for, they’re generally healthy horses. But, their pure bloodline results in a genetic predisposition to the following health conditions:
Cervical Vertebrae Stenotic Myelopathy (CVSM)
Commonly known as Wobblers Syndrome, this condition affects 2 – 3% of Thoroughbred horse breeds. CVSM typically occurs when the horse is six months to two years old. It’s caused by the narrowing of the cervical vertebrae canal and resultant compression of the spinal cord.
CVSM presents as fumbling, toe dragging, and general wobbling during trotting or running. The condition causes weakness in the forequarters and can sometimes affect the hindquarters. You may notice horses with CVSM struggling to stand up or falling easily.
A vet can treat CVSM with anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroid injections. Reducing protein and carbohydrates in the horse’s diet may also ease symptoms.
Cryptorchidism is a condition that prevents the testes from descending. This results in decreased sperm production. Horses with cryptorchidism are at a higher risk for developing testicular tumors. Vets can treat cryptorchidism with surgery.
Naked Foal Syndrome (NFS)
Naked foal syndrome is a hereditary condition that so far only seems to affect the Akhal-Teke breed. Unfortunately, the majority of foals born with NFS die within a few weeks or months. Very few have survived for more than a couple of years due to the intensive care they require.
How to Get an Akhal-Teke Horse
Unsurprisingly, Akhal-Teke horses are tough to find. There are fewer than 10,000 worldwide. Most of them live in their native homelands of Turkmenistan and Russia.
This breed typically costs around $10,000, though that price can vary depending on various qualifications. Palomino, cremello, and perlino Akhal-Tekes with metallic coats are the most expensive.
Chestnut, bay, black, and dun Akhal-Tekes generally cost less than their shimmering brothers and sisters. Age, ability, and personality are also price factors.
Since this breed bonds so fiercely with its owner, it can be challenging to adopt older Akhal-Tekes. They may be unwilling to shift their loyalties, resulting in a tumultuous relationship between horse and new owner. We recommend that you spend time with an Akhal-Teke before purchasing one to see if you can gain its trust.
If you’re interested in buying an Akhal-Teke, check out EquineNow’s marketplace.
More About This Horse Breed
The Akhal-Teke has an interesting trot. Rather than the two-beat rhythm of most breeds, they alternate between having one foot on the ground and two diagonal feet. This makes for a very comfortable ride!
For more information about this beautiful breed, look on the Akhal-Teke Association of America website. They’re committed to the preservation and well-being of the breed in the United States.