The Akhal-Teke Breed
The Akhal-Teke horse is one of the most interesting and fascinating breeds; and their story is just as mesmerizing. With less than 100 horses in the United States, this is quit-possibly the rarest breed in the world, as fewer than 2000 exist world-wide. There are only 200 of these horses in West Germany and 1400 in Russia.
Once the finest Native American horseman and breeders in the United States, the Nez Perce Indians have set out on a mission to cross-breed the Akhal-Teke horses with their renowned and cherished Appaloosas. The goal is to re-establish the horse onto the world stage.
As one of the most ancient of horse breeds, the Akhal-Teke was created by a tribe who lived on the Akhal oasis in Turkmenia, called the Tekes. There is some evidence these horses were actually descended from the wild Steppe Horse. This horse was referred to as the "Heavenly blood sweating" horse by the Chinese in 100 B.C.
Bordered by mountains and desert, the region where these horses were developed was quit isolated. They had to manage in the extreme temperatures of the desert, like the Arabians. And, because of these conditions and the great care by the Teke tribe, these animals became completely loyal to their masters. They evolved with a shiny, silk coat and the ability to cross the desert with little or no water.
The Akhal-Teke is often used to improve other breeds, for instance, in Russia, studs are crossbred with heavier animals to create warm-blooded sport horses. There have been controversies around this crossbreeding, as in the 1930s when an attempt was made to cross the Akhal-Teke with thoroughbreds to improve racing speed. But it was decided that the purity of the Akhal-Teke breed would be protected when it ran a 2700 mile race, including 225 miles of desert, in 3 days without water.
Sineter was the first stallion to come to the United States in1979, and Oliva, in 1980 - both from Russia. The Nez Perce Indians believe a significant contribution to the performance horses of the future will be through this beautiful Akhal-Teke breed. They are considered a light horse with a height of between 15 to 16 hands. Generally, their weight is 900 to 1000 lbs. and they look very much like the Arabian. Most commonly, they are gold with a metallic sheen, but also gold-bay, gold-chestnut and gold-dun.