Aug 17, 2007

Better Know a Breed


Every Friday I'm going to post a nice little introduction on a horse or pony breed of my choice. This week I'm introducing the Akhal-Teke horse. And guess where this breed originates. That's right, ladies and gentlemen - Central Asia! In keeping with the theme of this week, I have chosen to focus on this rare, yet gorgeous breed from the same place that created alcoholic milk. In fact, this horse may be the cause for all those slightly inebriated Mongolians.

Picture a tall greyhound with a slightly metallic sheen to its coat. That's the Akhal-Teke. Over time I have come to the pathetic realization that I have an unhealthy love for all animals whose conformation makes them appear vaguely undernourished. Anyway, they are amazingly gorgeous creatures that are very like Arabians in that they can basically live on air for days at a time. No, really.....In 1935 a group of Turkish horsemen 2500 miles in 84 days, including 3 days through the desert with no water. And voila, the gaunt look was born.

Now, I could spout a huge load of historical data about the breed, but that's not what this blog is about. The reason why I choose this particular breed is because I have always thought that it was an undiscovered diamond in the rough. It has some of the best qualities of the Arabian (its special way of bonding with one person and its sensitive, scary-intelligent nature) and the undeniable athleticism of the Thoroughbred. To look at them, you would probably think that it looks like a conformation nightmare. Case in point:

I grant you that, but taken as a whole I think that for some reason it works well on this horse - and to be frank, if the breed can endure all the harsh conditions it's been dealt living in the Asian steppes for hundreds of years, I'm not too concerned about the animal breaking down. I think more people should be looking into this breed for showjumping and dressage. Really.

And history proves I'm right. In the 1960 Olympics, a black Akhal-Teke by the name of Absent won the gold medal, with a score of 82.4%. Then, he won the bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics. And under a different rider, I believe he won the silver medal at the 1968 Olympics. But it doesn't stop there.....he was a 7-time national dressage champion. Oh yeah, his daddy was one of those horses that participated in the 1935 crazy-endurance ride. Have you heard the one about Poligon who set 5 consecutive years of puissance jump records?

I'm just sayin'. You heard it here first: This breed is due for a major comeback.

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