The Akhal-Teke is one of the most distinctive and unusual horses in the world, and also one of the oldest. The Akhal-Teke is believed to be a descendant of the Turkoman or Turkmene, an ancient race of horse thought to have existed thousands of years ago, but now unfortunately extinct. It takes its name from a tribe called the Teke which still inhabits the Akhal oasis in the Kara-Kum desert, close to the borders of Iran, where the horses traditionally live in herds under the watchful eyes of mounted herdsmen. This aristocrat of the desert is long, slim, elegance personified, but even so has a hardy constitution and can go long periods without water. However, it is usually protected in its native environment when heavy rugs are used to cover its back during extremes of heat or cold. They were once hand-fed high-protein diet, which surprisingly included eggs and mutton fat.
The Akhal-Teke is independent, free-spirited, and inclined to be wilful. It requires firm but kind handling and is unsuitable for the inexperienced. It does not respond well to punishment and may well try to retaliate.
The Akhal-Teke has a very distinctive exterior - a long neck, set very high, and this allows the horse to raise its center of gravity enabling it to surge forward or fall back, as need be. This makes the Akhal-Teke very nimble. It stands at approximately 15.2hh.
Colors are chestnut, bay, gray, palomino, black, dun. The dun color is the most striking wit its golden-metallic bloom. A silvery color also occurs.
The speed of Akhal-Teke is not comparable to that of the Thoroughbred and at one time experiments were made to introduce Thoroughtbred outcrosses in an attempt to remedy the difference. Outcrossing, however, diluted the essential character of the breed and was soon discontinued.
Today, the Akhal-Teke is a racehorse, a long-distance performer, and the Russian sports horse in dressage and jumping disciplines.