During dark times we often forget that there are some unbelievably wondrous and beautiful things to see in the world. From breathtaking sights like a field of flowers at daybreak or geological formations that spark awe in people, the world around us has created some truly spectacular and breathtaking things. And animal life is no exception. The internet has recently discovered a rare breed of horse from Turkmenistan and dubbed it “the most beautiful horse in the world.”
Rare Breed. The Akhal-Teke is an incredibly rare breed of horse. There are very few of them left in the world. They are found mostly in Turkmenistan and Russia.
Threatened. Because of how few of these horses remain in the world, they have been listed in the threatened category. This means that each year there are fewer than 1,000 registrations of the breed, and the estimated global population is 5,000 or less.
National Emblem. They are the national emblem of Turkmenistan.The breed’s name comes from the country’s history. Along the northern slope of the Kopet Dag mountain was once a line of oases called Akhal that was inhabited by the Tekke tribe of Turkomans.
Alagayysh. Because the horses are considered the country’s national emblem, breeders and owners like to dote upon the horses. The horses are decorate and extravagant decorations are made for them. The decorations are called “alagayysh.”
Horse of a Different Color. This breed comes in a variety of colors: a golden buckskin, perlino, cremello, bay, chestnut, black, and grey. is specifically known for it’s metallic, shiny coat--they seem to glow in the sunlight.
Science Behind the Coats. The reason for the shiny, metallic hair is all scientific. The shape of the hair shaft of the Akhal-Teke is different than most hair shafts. This one grows in a way that causes it to act more like scales. This allows it to reflect the sun and look like it’s glowing.
Physical Traits. The head of the Akhal-Teke is very refined with a more convex profile. Their ears are longer and their eyes are almond-shaped. Their manes are pretty sparse compared to other breeds. Their backs are very long and muscular and they stand between 58 to 64 inches tall.
Genetic Disease. Naked Foal Syndrome is caused by a lethal recessive gene. It’s been reported on since 1938. Foals born with this syndrome are most recognized by the their hairless coats and lack of mane and tails. Those infected usually die within a couple weeks, but some have lived up to 2 years.
Origins. There are a few theories about the breed’s origins. Some suggest that the horse is not just a descendent of the now extinct Turkoman Horse, but that they actually are the same breed.
History. The Akhal-Teke’s ancestry may trace back to almost 3000 years ago. It’s hard to get an accurate history due to the fact that before 1600 AD horses weren’t classified by their breeds. They were instead identified by type or local strain.
Tribal People. One of the first documented uses of the horse was for raiding by tribal people in what is now Turkmenistan. The horses were a vital part to the tribal people’s lives. The breed helped to ensure the people’s survival.
Adapted. Akhal-Teke are very resilient. They have adapted to the unforgiving landscape of Turkmenistan, where they must live with little water and food.
Endurance. The breed is also known for its endurance. They are made for sport and riding long distance. In 1935 a group of Turkmen riders rode this breed of horse for 2500 miles in 84 days. There was even a 235 mile stretch of the ride where there was no water.
Athleticism. Akhal-Teke are very well-known for their natural athleticism. They are good at dressage and have been used in show jumping and other events. They can also be skilled sport horses.
Olympian. An Akhal Teke stallion named Absent competed in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He won his medal in the Grand Prix de Dressage. In the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, he won bronze in the individual medal. He finally won gold during the 1968 Games in Mexico City.