Monday, December 31, 2012

Akhal-Teke

Akhal-Teke
Today's animal is one of the oldest breeds of horse in the world. It is also, in my opinion, one of the most stunning. They originated in Turkmenistan, with ancestors dating back over 5,000 years. They share a common bloodline to the Arabians, and have been influential in the creation of several other breeds, including the Trakehner and the Nez Perce.

Though the Akhal-Teke's come in a handful of colors, they are best known in their buckskin and palomino varieties, where their coats have a famous metallic sheen to them. They have very little in the mane and tail department, and posses slim bodies that make them excellent for endurance work.

As mentioned, ancestors of the breed first showed up in Turkmenistan thousands of years ago, and the horses were bred there by tribesman until the country was taken over by Russia in 1881. Members of the Russian government and military took a liking to the striking horses, and they developed a breeding program and produced the first official studbook in 1941. It was from a Russian general that the breed got its modern name-- derived from the Teke Turkmen who lived near the Akhal Oasis.

The horses nearly died out post WWII however, due to the slaughtering of horses for meat. Even today there are only around 3,500 in the world. They remain a national symbol of Turkmenistan today.

Akhal-Teke horses excell in distance running, jumping, and dressage. Several Akhal-Tekes have even medaled in Dressage at the Olympic games. They are very lively horses, but are said to attach themselves to only one owner.

Status : Domesticated
Location : Turkmenistan
Size : Shoulder height up to 16hands (64in, 1.6m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Perissodactyla
Family : Equidae -- Genus : Equus -- Species : E. ferus -- Subspecies : E. f. caballus

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