The Akhal-Teke: All You Need To Know About This Unique Breed


The Akhal Teke is a breed of horse that I have been interested in writing about for a long time. This breed is not only one of the most unique breeds in the world, but it is also known as the supermodel of the horse world and is often seen in a variety of rare colors including coats influenced by the creme gene.

What Is An Akhal-Teke?

An Akhal-Teke is a hot-blooded breed of horse known for its gorgeous and unique appearance and coat that appears to almost be metallic. This breed originated in the country of Turkmenistan where it was bred, used, and prized by Turk nomads. The Akhal-Teke is a breed known for its diversity of coat colors, natural stamina, and exceptional hardiness.

How Big Are Akhal-Teke Horses?

Akhal-Teke horses, though they may look tall from their lanky appearance, actually only stand between 14.2 and 15.3 hands high and don’t often exceed this height.

These horses weigh around the same amount as an average horse meaning they weight around 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms) on average.

What Colors Can Akhal-Tekes Be?

Akhal-Teke horses can be a great variety of colors. The colors that these horses can be include:

  • Bay (can be blood bay, black bay, light bay, and dark bay)
  • Black
  • Gray (can be white/gray, flea-bitten gray, and dappled gray)
  • Chestnut (can be sorrel, liver chestnut, light chestnut, and flaxen chestnut)
  • Palomino
  • Buckskin
  • Smokey Black
  • Cremello
  • Perlino
  • Smokey Creme
  • White
  • Roan (can be red roan, bay roan, blue roan, or strawberry roan)

What Type Of Horse Is The Akhal-Teke?

The Akhal-Teke is a hot blooded breed of horse. This means that they are one of the lightest breeds of horse in the world and have a more fiery temperament than their larger and heavier warmblood relatives.

The History Of The Akhal-Teke

The history of the Akhal-Teke goes back so far that this breed is sometimes mistaken for the world’s oldest breed. The origins of this breed lie in the country of Turkmenistan, specifically in the Karakum Desert where these horses adapted to survive off of the little food and water available to them in such a harsh environment. It is the places that their ancestors adapted to that gives the breed its endurance, hardiness, strength, and adaptability today.

During their time spent living in the Karakum Desert, many of these horses were used by nomadic people who bred their horses for their great endurance, stamina, and athleticism. The nomads who used these horses prized them and cared for them as if they were their own children.

In the year of 1881, Turkmenistan became a part of the Russian Empire which then made the Akhal-Teke horses a part of this empire. They were prized not only by the people of Turkmenistan, but also by the Russians who took a part in creating a number of breeding farms for this breed.

It was during Turkmenistan’s time spent under rule by the Russian Empire that the Akhal-Teke horse got its name. The ‘Akhal’ In the name Akhal-Teke comes from the Akhal Oasis because of a Turk tribe that lived near this oasis. The ‘Teke’ in the name Akhal-Teke comes from the name of this tribe. The members of this tribe were known as Teke Turkmen. Because the Teke Turkmen lived by the Akhal Oasis, the name Akhal-Teke was born and given to these horses.

How To Identify The Akhal-Teke: Traits & Characteristics

There are many traits that this breed carries that makes them stand out from all other breeds. To name a few of these traits, some include:

Metallic Coat Sheen

One of the most unique things that are seen in the Akhal Teke that makes them stand out from other breeds is the natural metallic sheen that their coat carries. Especially when these horses have a cremello or other golden coat, they literally look like a moving metal sculpture.

Lean Build

Akhal-Teke horses are hotblooded meaning not only are they fiery when it comes to temperament, but it also means that they have a limber, agile, sleek body. Narrower than most breeds, there are some things about the Akhal-Teke that make it stand out above most other horses.

Hot Temperament

If you know anything about breeds like the Arabian horse, you know that they are spirited and fiery. This goes for the Akhal-Teke as well as it, like the Arabian, is a hotblooded breed. A energetic personality is a staple of hotblooded horses like the Akhal-Teke.

What Are Akhal Teke Horses Used For & Good At?

These horses are used for a variety of things. Some of the things that these horses are used for include:

Showjumping

Though many people don’t know this, the Akhal-Teke is a breed that actually has a pretty good natural jumping ability. This is what makes them flashy performance jumping horses. Their stamina, speed, jumping ability, and metallic coat color all make them wow audiences in the jumping arena.

Cross Country

Not only do these horses have a good jumping ability, but their time spent galloping across the deserts makes them incredibly fast, agile, and have great stamina. Their endurance combined with their jumping ability makes for an unstoppable cross country horse.

Dressage

Under saddle, these horses almost always turn heads. If they are able to be trained to a certain level of obedience and strength, Akhal-Tekes make showstopping dressage horses who stand out so much out of all the ‘boring’ horses they compete against.

Eventing

Because these horses excel in cross country, showjumping, and dressage, they also do great in competitions where all of these disciplines are tested.

Endurance

The stamina and endurance of these horses is incredible; even comparable to that of the Arabian. It is for this that makes them so popular as endurance horses.

What Is The Average Lifespan Of This Breed?

These horses live a slightly shorter lifespan than that of an average horse with a typical lifespan of 20 years.

Fun Facts On Akhal-Teke Horses

  • Old stud books list roan as a color seen in the breed but since then that line has dies out as no roan Akhal-Tekes are seen today
  • This breed is listed as endangered in multiple countries
  • Akhal-Tekes are nicknamed the supermodel of the horse world
  • Akhal-Tekes are nicknamed the golden horses because of the frequency in which the cremello, perlino, and smokey creme coat colors are seen

FAQs On This Breed

Are there any health issues carried by this breed?

Yes, sadly there is. Due to extensive inbreeding, it is not very uncommon for a foal to be born with a condition known as naked foal syndrome. Naked foal syndrome causes the baby horse to be born completely hairless and to this day, none have ever lived to be an adult.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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