Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Akhal-Tekes in dressage

http://www.akhalteke.net/web/karakum.nsf/PermaLinks/TNKH-732NJDThese are such intriguing horses! The naturally high head carriage, the elegant heads, and exotic look make them beautiful. Their anorexic appearance makes me wonder a) why their owners don't feed them (joke!) and b) whether they will hold up to work. Well, guess what? They're beautiful and tough. Photo to the right is photo courtesy of Todd Keith and the horse is standing in Florida at  at www.karakumstud.com.

From whence they came
The breed is thought to have descended from the gazelle-like, light bodied horse of Central Asia, specifically in the southern region of the modern country of Turkmenistan. The native Turkoman horse of the Teke tribe, the Akhal Tekes were bred for raids on other tribes; they were valued for their speed, stamina and fiery temperament in order to withstand long distance raiding journeys.

What are their unique traits?

  • Their manes and tails are sparse -- some have no forelocks
  • They're rare -- world wide their numbers are in the low thousands, and in the U.S. there are around 250.
  • The Akhal Teke's especially silky hair shaft (see research on this trait) produces a unique metallic sheen.
  • Their hooves are tough and rarely require shoes.
  • They are alternately described as difficult/stubborn and independent/loyal, which can be thought of as two sides of the same coin (they are thought to be one-person horses).
  • In 1960, an Akhal-Teke purebred stallion, Absent, won the dressage gold medal and by the end of his career, had won 6 Olympic medals.
Speaking of dressage

An Akhal-Teke named Absent won the gold medal at the 1964 Rome Olympics, and in a June 2009 Chronicle of the Horse article, Axel Steiner wrote that Absent was among the first modern type dressage horses. Ranier Klimke rode Chan, an Akhal-Teke, to Grand Prix.

Here is some footage of the breed doing dressage...


Akhal Teke UK

Akhal Teke from Wikipedia

Eventing Akhal Tekes blog

Akhal-Tekes: Gift from the desert from Equus Caballus

Akhal Teke from American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Akhal Teke from raresteeds.com

Akhal Teke from Horse Breeds of the World

Akhal Teke Society of America

International Association of Akhal Teke Breeders

History of the Akhal Teke
from mhref.com

History of the Akhal Teke horse, yesterday and today


  1. This is a fascinating breed. Many russian breeds have that beautiful coat. Akhal Tekes are so TOUGH! This site also has some nice photos showing the horses in the field. It's nice to see the horses behaving naturally, not just "on show".

    The Nez Perce indians have a program to cross akhal tekes with appaloosas to regenerate native horse breeding. It's only been going a few years, so it will be interesting see more results.

  2. I remember the first time I every saw a picture of an Akhal Teke. I was amazed at the metallic sheen of its coat.

    The horses remind me a little of the American Saddlebred in appearance. (I had a Saddlebred I adored.) What elegant creatures.

  3. Thanks for this post and the links! I've been fascinated by this breed for years, but never had the resources to learn more. I'd love to work with one, they seem to be quite challenging....in a good way.

  4. what a stunning breed...thanks for posting

  5. My! What long pasterns you have!!! That last one had very willowy looking legs with those long pasterns. I've always love this breed, I do hear they tend to be a handful.

  6. GREAT subject!
    I train & compete Akhal-Tekes in Three Day Eventing. They are an amazing breed with unbelievable beauty, stamina, and athleticism. If you go to our blog and website, you will see that our purebred Akhal-Tekes do not look anorexic. Horses are horses, and the reason why the ones you see in pictures look emaciated is because they often ARE emaciated. Unfortunately for the horses, there are a lot of enthusiasts who believe the overly-skinny look is part of the breed's "Type," so some breeders and owners will underfeed their horses to produce the desired appearance. When really, all you have to do is feed them and they get fat just like any other breed! The breed is originally from Turkmenistan (Russia took over the studbook when they took over the country), and for the most part, the people of Turkmenistan have a hard enough time feeding themselves, let alone their horses. Thanks for posting this topic!! they are truly wonderful horses, and it's always great to hear that people know about them!

    Look us up for more info. Here are the links to our blog & website:



    --Jenny Rice

  7. If you look at the next few pages on the "Horse Breeds of the World" link, there are other Russian breeds showing the beautiful metallic coloring. There are many remarkable breeds in the countries of the former Soviet Union and their survival is just as remarkable in the harsh economic and political upheavals since the Russian Revolution.

  8. Hi Jenny, your Akhal-Tekes eventing blog is what made me look further into this breed -- note that your blog is in my list of resources. This may be a mis-impression but they have the elegance of both the thoroughbreds (lean lines) and the exotic look of the arabs. Just gorgeous.

  9. Great post. Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted an Akhal-Teke. Beautiful coats, interesting conformation and the rumors of their temperaments have always intrigued me.

  10. My husband and I attended a dressage clinic (hubby doesn't ride) a number of years ago,and Tito ( I forget his last name) had some Akhal-Tekes at the barn as the owner was helping him to get his horses going in the US. My husband has done mission work in Russia, and we visited w/ Tito. The barn owner talked about how over in Russia at the barn at feeding time, how quiet the horses were. Good Russian stoics. We saw Tito a short while later at a schooling show where he had a Russian rider showing some of his horses. One was still on the trailer, and he went over and talked to it quietly, calling it--and this is a transliteration--Nemnoshka, or little one. He has a wonderful connection w/ his horses. He asked me to help him unload one, and explained how to take the lead rope and immediately ask it to longe in small circle around me. That was the routine. I was ecstatic, and did as he requested. That horse was so lovely, so shiny, so special. I will go to my grave with that as one of my favorite moments in life.
    At that time, the USSR had fallen apart, and many horses breeders fell on hard times, having to sell their herds, but Tito was determined to save his.

  11. I've heard one of my favorites, Trakehners', personalities described in similar ways. I've always been interested in working with ATs but have never had the opportunity.

  12. Super Star is an Akhal-Teke stallion standing in Virginia. He made it up to FEI levels.

    He's nice, but not what you typical picture an Akhal Teke. I still have that image of that dun golden Akhal-Teke in one of those horse books as a kid.

  13. I was going to mention the Nez Perce project too, I went to Idaho in 2004 to see their horses and I'd say the first crop were of riding age then. Some stunning looking horses but I believe the project was not without its politics and problems. I wouldn't say no to a teke mare to cross onto my few spot appaloosa though!!

  14. stunning! I love the last one. He is so elegant.


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.