The Akhal-Teke Breed in Horse Racing
At first glance, you would think that you were looking at a Thoroughbred horse. But then he walks out into the sun and an almost blinding metallic glow ripples across his coat and muscles and you know, you are looking at something quite unique and spectacular. It is the Akhal-Teke, an ancient horse breed that has in recent years has proved to be a formidable horse and one of the most versatile horse breeds on earth. But why would people even consider using the Akhal-Teke in Horse Racing? It is a horse with many hidden talents, and if Alexander the Great refused to ride any other horse, you must consider the nobility and wonder that this breed possesses.
The Akhal-Teke originates from Turkmenistan and they have been used as race horses and war mounts for more than 3 000 years. They are treated as family members by the Turkmen and viewed as their most valuable and prized possessions. At a height of between fifteen to fifteen point one hands, these horses to seem a little small when compared to the Thoroughbred that averages a height of almost sixteen hands. But to misjudge this spirited, bold and courageous horse would be a great mistake. The Akhal-Teke has a slender build with a silky mane and shortish tail. It has long and slender legs and has a very long stride. Although they are seen in various different colors, it is the metallic glow to their coats that make them distinctive.
The use of the Akhal-Teke in horse racing makes sense due to their unbelievable stamina and their lightning quick pace. To prove to Joseph Stalin that these horses were of national importance, fifteen horses were ridden across 3 000 kilometers from Ashkhabad to Moscow in 1935. This included traveling through the Kara-Kum desert, a stretch of almost 300 miles, which they managed quite comfortably with almost no water. The entire trip took the Akhal-Teke horses and their horsemen eighty-four days to complete. Their strength, endurance and courage led to the breed being named a national treasure and the breeding of these horses as a form of art.
The Akhal-Teke is highly intelligent horses and builds up a very close bond with their riders, to the point where they can be somewhat stand-offish toward strangers. They are extremely loyal, recover very fast from injury, rarely get ill and are not difficult when it comes to feed. A few Akhal-Teke horses have already made a name for the breed, such as a horse named Absent, that won the Prix de Dressage in 1960 at the Olympic Games and was named “World’s Best Sporting Horse” in the year 1968. The winner of the 1986 Arc de Triomphe Race was Dancing Brave. Making a mark in history for his selling price of 50 million U.S. Dollars.
This truly amazing horse breed is making its way into the show jumping arena, dressage competitions, cross country events and slowly creeping into the horse racing scene. Not only are they prize-winning champions, but heartwarming companions.