Casey Reimler01/31/2018ANSC 1030-01The Akhal-Teke descends from the raiding horses of Turkmenistan first described over 3,000 years ago. The modern form of the Akhal-Teke dates to about the eighth century, and thus the breed represents the purest living descendant of the ancient Scythian horse. The name “Akhal” means pure and is also the name of a remote oasis associated with the nomadic Teke tribe, with whom the breed shares the second half of its name.The Akhal Teke is considered to be one of the oldest of modern domesticated equine breeds in existence. The breed as it is known today first appeared in Turkmenistan, Central Asia, in Kara Kum, a rocky, flat desert surrounded by mountains, which played a significant role in preserving the Akhal Teke’s purity. These horses had to tolerate extremes of arid heat and cold, living on sparse vegetation and water. Akhal Tekes are fine boned and their bodies are often compared to a greyhound or cheetah with a thin barrel and deep chest. The profile of their face is flat or slightly convex, although some appear to be moose-nosed. They can have almost hooded, or almond-shaped eyes. Their ears are long and slim. They have a long back, a flat croup, and a long, high set on a neck that can appear inverted compared with most other breeds. The Akhal-Teke has sloping shoulders and they are fine limbed and flat muscled, definitely fitting into the “fine” horse category. Overall, they give an appearance of raciness and wiry endurance, typically standing between 14.2 and 16.3 hands tall, weighing 900 and 1000 pounds.Today’s horses are used for dressage, show jumping, long distance racing, and pleasure riding. They are prized for their smooth, flowing gaits. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Akhal Teke is the brilliant metallic sheen of some individuals. They are thin-skinned, and their coats are very fine. Many carry a gene for the cream dilution—a gene that can result in palomino, cremello or perlino coat colors. Some individuals are pale blue-eyed. All colors and color patterns are accepted in the breed registry. Their manes and tails tend to be sparse and fine haired, and they may have no forelock. The Akhal Teke is known for the metallic sheen of its coat. It is also said to be an intensely loyal, ‘one-man’ horse. Turkmen people remained proud of their horses and in 1935 staged an amazing promotional effort to bring attention to the breed. The event took a mounted group of Akhal-Teke stallions over 2,500 miles from the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashkhabad, to Moscow in 84 days. One segment of the trip was a 225-mile crossing of the KaraKum desert. The horses successfully covered the distance across the desert in 3 days, with little water available. This amazing ride of endurance was repeated in 1988.