The Akhal-Teke: a Turkmen horse

THE AKHAL-TEKE - A HORSE OF HISTORY

I don’t know much about Turkmenistan besides its Gates of Hell until I found out about the Akhal-Teke, a rare Turkmen horse breed. Due to the country’s dry and hot climate and centuries of breeding, the Akhal-Teke has adapted to the environment, giving it qualities such as high endurance, hardiness and the ability to survive on minimal amounts of food and water.

Its ancestors are said to be the Nisean horse and often comes with a beautiful, shimmering coat, which can be any shade of gold or silver. Akhal-Teke are popular in racing, dressage, eventing and even as a working animal in Turkmenistan but they are also known for being good pets. The breed is intelligent and quick to learn, but can also be quick to spook. As a result, the Akhal-Teke is not a suitable mount for beginners or riders with a lack of experience.

Fun fact: an Akhal-Teke stallion named Absent who won the Grand Prix de Dressage at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, and the bronze individual medal in Tokyo 4 years later, and gold at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

But Absent isn’t the only famous Akhal-Teke in Turkmenistan. The nation’s former president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, immortalised his favourite horse White Khan with a personal statue. His son—the new president—approved it a few weeks ago with the monument set to “increase the glory of the Akhal-Teke horses – the national pride of the Turkmen people”.

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