Features of the Akhal Teke breed
- Light weight, elongated body structure, sportive appearance.
- Colour: the breed features various hues of dun and peculiar metallic glitter.
- The body structure is fine but sturdy with a highly developed immune system.
- The Akhal breed has sportive features: long, tilted shoulder blades, highly emasculated rumps, dry, strong legs, marked withers, long back.
- Of all the existing breeds the Akhal is a breed that was selected the longest time ago, and it has not been pure-bred to satisfy western expectations. In the absence of pure-breeding there were individual specimens in the breed that truly represented the features of today’s modern sport horses even in times when the breeding process for other breeds was in an initial stage, so in the environment of the Akhal breed tall the other breeds were small and stocky and not very refined in appearance to satisfy contemporary requirements. As for its appearance mention must be made of the fact that in Turkmenistan and in Russia the Akhal breeders pursued an intensive and closed breeding process as a result of which this peculiar and unique appearance developed together with strong genetic features also unique to the Akhal breed (which are also transferred onto new generations).
- It is an intelligent, dynamic, sensitive breed. It has extraordinary mental capabilities. If taken care of in harmonious environment, it is reliable and highly co-operative, and has a sense of problem solving.
- As a result of its geographical origin, the breed has great endurance. Since it is a desert breed, it has adequate capacities even on small portions of fodder and water.
- It is capable of covering long distances even in extreme conditions.
- A desert racehorse: a long time ago people rode long distances in deserts. Later they organised popular tribal desert races to commemorate these long rides. Akhal Teke horses participated in these races since, as it was generally thought then, other breeds were not suitable for performing adequately in these races, so these events were organised exclusively for the Akhal breed. Recently attempts were been made to revive these desert races however not with the participation of pure-bred Akhals, and these horses were not trained with the old training methods. These races many times were not concluded since on several occasions too many horses and/or riders fell victims to the harsh circumstances.
- What is the reason why the Akhal is such a tough and resistant breed? During the times of continuous combat readiness people needed horses that they could mount any time and that had the most reliable performance even without feed and water for long days. The breeders selected and bred the Akhal specimens to satisfy these requirements.
- Comfort: As regards riding, the Akhal features unique qualities for comfort. As for its gait, the gallop and trot of the Akhal is extraordinarily comfortable due probably to the fact that it is a desert breed with an elongated back, and it has adapted its gait to sandy terrain.
- Flat racing: There are but a handful of breeds apart from the English Thoroughbred that are used for flat racing. The Akhal Teke is the breed that is used for flat racing in the Orient. They have long been and they are still used for this purpose in long-distance (4-5-6 thousand m) races. (Speed must also have been a quality for selecting Akhals for combat horses.)
Outstanding achievements by representatives of the Akhal breed:
- Poligon was a record holder for a long time in endurance high-jumping in the Soviet Union with 212 cm. Perepel set up a record of 8 m 78 cm in broad-jumping in 1950.
- Absent came second in dressage in Aachen in 2008, while he won the gold medal in the Grand Prix at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. He won the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. He also participated in flat races at the age of 2 and was used as a sport horse until he was 16 years old.
- Kambar, the excellent race horse won 63 of his 64 races on flat track.
- Káplán came first in 16 races out of 26 events in the 1,400-4000 m track races.
- Magdan (Karakír) came second in the 50 km race in Kazakhstan in the Championships of Middle Asian Republics in 1952. His time was 1 hour 30 minutes and 51 seconds.
- Akbar won the 10,000 m race in Tashkent. His time was 14 minutes and 14.8 seconds.
He was the sire of Mustafa, who was imported to Hungary in 1976, and who afterwards was transported to our farm, and became founder stallion of our stud. Mustafa 53, a stallion by Mustafa, who previously was a successful dressage horse, and who jumped over 2 m in freestyle high-jumping, also served on our farm.
- In 1935 Akbar covered 4,300 km in 84 days from Ashgabad to Moscow, out of which 360 km was in desert terrain.
- The Akhal is also used successfully in military and in show jumping.
From the above list it may be concluded that the proportion of talented individuals is rather high in this small population.
What role can the Akhal Teke have in the equestrian universe in Europe and in Hungary?
As you can see above, the Akhal breed is really multifunctional. Horses today are more or less almost entirely used for sports, recreation and purposes related to health preservation.
The Akhal Teke is an ideal breed for sports. It would be worth trying in show-jumping, dressage, military, long distance riding, flat racing and steeple chase. Furthermore, this breed has proved its suitability, aptitude and talent in some of these sports in spite of the fact that it has lacked decades of dedicated breeders’ focus and training, which is needed to prepare horses for such sport activities. With adequate breeder’s focus and professional commitment it is more than probable that this breed would be able to achieve excellent results. We could offer information in order to foster this process based on our own experience, which also substantiate the fact that the Akhal Teke breed indeed has a role to play in the world of sports.
Apart from sports, this breed is capable of performing special work-related tasks also
Our family (my father) first came across this breed by way of a circus horse trainer. At that time my father had studied oriental equestrian culture for many years. This trainer saw the equestrian part of a circus programme in a circus in Moscow, where Akhal Teke horses were used, and he was greatly impressed by the horses’ performance
We have performed several shows during the past ten years. We have toured with our equestrian show that embraces the traditions of oriental equestrian life not only in Hungary, but we also travelled to Lindlar in Germany. The fine, unique appearance and the fast, dynamic, almost floating movement of our Akhal horses have brought us great success during the shows.
Our horses regularly participate in the performances of the Szeged Open-air Theatre, which clearly indicates that the Akhal Teke breed is also suitable for accomplishing so-called special tasks.
Suitability for leisure time riding:
Statistical data prove that most horse riders (about 80%) pursue this activity in their leisure time. We started to organise riding tours and riding courses about 8 years ago. For these activities – with very few exceptions – we use hybrid (50-75%) or pure-bred (100%) Akhal Teke horses. This breed has proven to us that it can be used excellently in these areas also. These horses are outstandingly comfortable to ride especially during long tours. Apart from this diverse areas of use, Akhals are also known to be ridden in Western style.
The present status of the Akhal Teke and factors jeopardising its existence:
The headcount of the Akhal Teke breed is very small, especially in Europe. There are about 8-10 Akhal breeders in Hungary with 5-10 horses. The largest stud of non-pure-bred Akhals is our stud in Ópusztaszer with an average headcount of 60 horses.
There are several Akhal breeders in the western parts of Europe (The Czech Republic, Germany, France, Switzerland). In this part of Europe breed shows are organised regularly for Akhal breeders, and horses are purchased and sold at fairs.
One of the problems with the Akhal Teke is that breeders in Europe hardly use this breed as workhorses (e. g. for leisure time riding, or for sports). Akhals are mainly kept by hobby-riders in small numbers (1-5 horses), and are generally used by the owners. Some owners take their Akhals to breed shows (organised especially for the Akhal breed). Negative consequences of this are that the Akhal breed is not represented in sports and in equestrian tourism. Large Akhal studs are non-existent. There is no planning and development in the area of breeding Akhals. Thus members of the equestrian community (breeders, trainers, sport riders, service providers) do not know this breed, therefore they cannot recognise it.
An additional value of the Akhal, which elevates this breed to the rank of national importance is the fact that it was the Akhal Teke that ancient Magyars used during their conquest of the area that is Hungary today. A breed is at stake, which was present at the beginning of the development of all breeds, and which carries unexploited potentials in so many diverse areas like hardly any other breed does.