How rare are Akhal-Teke horses?

The Akhal-Teke is descended from Turkmen raiding horses originally mentioned around 3,000 years ago. The contemporary Akhal-Teke horse dates from the eighth century, making it the purest surviving descendent of the ancient Scythian horse. The word “Akhal” means “pure,” and it is also the name of a distant oasis linked with the nomadic Teke tribe, which shares the second part of the breed’s name. The Tekemene people are descended from the ancient Scythinas and have long lived in Turkmenistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan to the north. The Tekes’ nomadic lifestyle necessitated the need for horses of tremendous endurance capable of traveling huge distances quickly and without trouble. The Tekes developed horses of fiery temperament and great stamina whose fame spread throughout the ancient world and became highly desired as war and racing horses. The Tekes established and maintained this breed for hundreds of years via an oral history of lineage preservation. The Akhal-Teke remained virtually untouched for many centuries. It was mostly found in Central Asia, but it was also found as far north and west as Russia, where it was maintained in the royal stables. Turkmens were proud of their horses and organized an incredible advertising drive to draw notice to the breed in 1935. In 84 days, a mounted troop of Akhal-Teke stallions traveled almost 2,500 miles from Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashkabahad, to Moscow. The trek included a 225-mile passage of the KaraKum desert. With minimal water available, the horses successfully crossed the desert in three days. This incredible endurance ride was repeated in 1988.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Akhal-Teke predates the emergence of the Arabian horse. Turkmenian stock has historically had a significant impact on the evolution of horse breeds in Europe, most notably the English Thoroughbred. It is currently thought that at least two of the Thoroughbred’s three founder sires were Turkmen, most likely Akhal-Tekes. Perhaps the most famous Akhal-Teke was the Russian horse Absent, who won the Olympic gold medal in dressage in 1960 and had a career total of six medals – the most ever earned by any individual horse.

With its thin body and graceful stride, the Akhal-Teke seems to be an equine counterpart of a Greyhound. The horses of Akhal-Teke are long in every dimension, with tapering heads, narrow necks, and slim bodies. They have powerful legs with solid bone and tough hooves. They seem to glide above the ground due to their smooth and elastic gaits. The forelock and mane are scant, the skin is thin, and the coat is short and smooth. A thick undercoat keeps you warm in the cold. While the breed comes in a variety of hues, gold predominates and has a unique shiny shine. The metallic sheen is caused by the unique structure of the hair that bends light through one side of the hair and refracts it out the other side, causing the golden cast to the horses’ coats.

Akhal-Teke horses stand 15.2 hands (62 inches) tall at the withers and weigh between 900 and 1,000 pounds. They are well-known for being very intelligent horses that respond well to delicate training. The Akhal-Teke is a worldwide uncommon breed, with a population of fewer than 7,000 individuals. Akhal-Teke horses excel in a variety of disciplines, including endurance, dressage, and jumping. Despite these abilities and ancient lineage, the breed has been difficult to promote in North America; its strange name, unusual body shape and color, and somewhat smaller size mean that the Akhal-Teke does not match the Thoroughbred/Warmblood sport horse profile that is popular today. The success of a few horses has gradually increased breed awareness, and a larger basis of promotional effort has been formed. The Akhal-Teke population in North America, if properly protected, might serve as a vital genetic reservoir for this ancient breed.

Did you know:
The Livestock Conservancy is America’s foremost conservation group, fighting to prevent the loss of over 150 historic breeds. We rely on the support of our members, grants, and donations from the public to raise the $700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare breeds of farm animals. Click here to find out how you can assist.

Related Questions

  • How many Akhal-Teke horses are left in the world?

    There are presently roughly 6,600 Akhal-Tekes in the globe, predominantly in Turkmenistan, but also in Europe and North America.


    Distinguishing features Riding horse developed for endurance; some individuals have a’metallic’ coat.
    Equus ferus caballus
  • Why are Akhal-Tekes so rare?

    The Akhal-Teke is an endangered breed on the Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List, which is unusual for domestic animals (CPL). Some of this might be attributed to the political and economic turbulence that occurred in Soviet Russia. The breeding barns that men established in the late 1800s gradually shut down.

  • What is the rarest breed of horse?

    The Rarest in the World

    1. Akhal-Teke Horse.
    2. American Cream Draft Horse.
    3. Boulonnais Horse.
    4. Caspian Horse.
  • Is the Akhal-Teke endangered?

    The breed has been closely associated with political upheavals, and they were imported into the United States in 1979. The Akhal-Teke is currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the Equine Survival Trust and “Threatened” by the American Breed and livestock Conservancy.

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