Ask any horse owner or spectator what they love about horses. These will be the responses: activeness, stability, speed and alertness. There is no other horse breed that has exhibited all these qualities as well as Akhal-Teke. Considered to have been around for 3000 years, the breed is second to none not only because of its capabilities but also the rarity of its beauty. Actually, some say the breed is even older.
Akhal-Teke initially lived in the rocky but flat desert in Turkmenistan, Central Asia. Although it was primarily used to conduct raids, tribesmen of Turkmenistan in that region were wowed by the breed’s ability. This prompted them to preserve it, and that’s perhaps the reason we have the breed even today. Additionally, the mountains surrounding the forest also helped to preserve its purity since contact with other breeds was minimal.
After conquering the region in 1881, Russian generals discovered Akhal-Teke’s unique beauty and power. Then, they carefully preserved the breed. In fact, they named the horse Akhal-Teke after the Teke Turkmen tribe living near Akhal oasis. But the 3000 year history of the horse has not been short of setbacks. During the World Wars this noble breed was on the brink of extinction. Statistics showed that there were only about 1200 horses in the 1940s.
There were also desperate attempts to transfer some of the horse’s genes to other breeds. For instance, Byerly Turk and Lister Turk are some of the breeds that were influenced by Akhal-Teke. The breed was used both in trade and war. Kings and influential foreign figures at the time also accepted the horses as gifts.
Akhal-Teke’s hallmark of beauty is probably their distinctive, shimmering coat. Many people studying the breed have sought to explain how the coat comes about. According to a website dedicated to the breed, some insights can be found. Due to the structure of the horse hair, the opaque core is trimmed or disappears altogether. Then, space is taken up by the transparent part of the hair which acts like a light-pipe. This bends light rays through one side of the hair and then refracts it to the other side. What follows is a spectacular golden cast. This amazing look, as well as their rarity and exceptional traits, is what truly sets this breed apart.
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