The Akhal-Teke is 'Threatened' on the Conservancy’s Conservation Priority List

Are you familiar with this horse breed? We had no idea this breed existed until we started researching rare horse breeds.

The Akhal-Teke is the national horse of Turkmenistan, where the breed originated. The breed is even featured on their coat of arms, banknotes and even stamps.

Check out these cool facts from

  • This breed is an ancient racehorse. They are still raced in Turkmenistan.
  • Most people only know the Akhal-Teke for that stunning coat with a metallic look. 
  • The Akhal-Teke is listed as threatened on the Conservancy's Conservation Priority List. This is rare for domestic animals!

 How beautiful are these horses! The breed's name refers to both its origin and breeders. 

History and origin

The Spruce Pets tells us,

"The Akhal-Teke is an ancient breed, possibly descended from some of the same common ancestors as the more well-known hot-blooded breed, the Arabian. It developed in the Kara Kum desert that covers most of the country of Turkmenistan, where these horses had to tolerate sparse water and food supplies as well as extremes of heat and cold."

According to equine experts, the Akhal-Teke almost certainly predates the development of the Arabian horse. Historically Turkmenian stocks had a profound influence on the development of horse breeds in Europe, and most notably the English Thoroughbred.  

Size, lifespan, and colors

The livestock conservancy provides a breed overview and they are often referred to as the equine equivalent of the Greyhound due to their slim build and flowing stride. Their gaits make them appear to float.

  • Akhal-Teke horses are long in every dimension, with tapering heads, thin necks, and lean bodies.
  • They have strong legs, with dense bone and hard hooves. 
  • They're found in a wide array of colors, gold predominates and has a distinctive metallic sheen characteristic to the breed. 

"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."

The average size is 15.2 hands (62") at the withers and weighs 900-1,000 pounds.  

How long do they live?

Their average life expectancy is about 20 years.

An extreme endurance horse

This rare breed was originally used by nomadic tribesmen of Turkmenistan for transportation. Their speed and endurance were prized during raids.

"Akhal-Teke horses excel in many pursuits, 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."

They're also used for long-distance jumping.

Other horse breeds that are 'similar' are Arabian, Thoroughbreds, and Welsh Ponies.

The Akhal-Teke breed has many organizations that are supporting breed programs, bloodlines, breeding farms and recording important gait details. You can refer to the Akhal-Teke Association for more information about these beautiful horses.

Other fun facts about this breed?

  • 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!
  • Many carry a gene for the cream dilution—which can result in palomino, cremello, and perlino coat colors. Some horses even have pale blue eyes.

Let's keep our eyes out for more conservation details on this purebred Akhal-Teke horse breed to ensure it's in North America for years to come.

Did you know about this horse? Share your thoughts below.

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