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Akhal Teke Horse

Nicole Cosgrove

May 21, 2021

As one of the oldest domesticated horse breeds in the world, the Akhal Teke Horse knows how to turn heads. While some equestrians find this horse too scrawny, others view it as a beautiful work of living art.

If you have even the slightest interest in horses, you will likely find the Akhal Teke Horse incredibly interesting and insightful. To learn more about this old and stunning breed, keep reading.

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Quick Facts about Akhal Teke Horses

Species Name: Equus caballus
Family: Equidae
Care Level: Advanced
Temperament: Intelligent, restless, sensitive, spirited
Color Form: Variety
Lifespan: 20 years
Size: 900 – 1,000 lbs.
Diet: Hay and protein
Minimum Stall Size: 14 x 14 ft. stall with adequate outdoor area
Stall Set-Up: Bedding and area to move
Compatibility: Only suitable for individuals with equine experience

Akhal Teke Horse Overview

The Akhal Teke Horse has origins that date back thousands of years. We can trace back their origin to the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan. Experts believe that this breed descended from ancestors of the Arabian, a more popularly known horse breed.

Because they were bred in the desert, this breed is incredibly hardy and can tolerate extremes of either cold or hot. More so, the horses know how to handle sparse water and food. For survival, Akhal Teke Horses lived among nomadic humans who bred them for their athleticism.

Today, Akhal Teke Horses normally stand 14 hands to 16 hands, while weighing between 900 and 1000 lbs. Many people compare this horse’s body type to that of a Greyhound because it is incredibly slim.

This body type is what makes the Akhal Teke Horse stand out from other breeds. Because it is so slender and intelligent, this breed can often be seen as a status symbol, but they also come with several potential health issues.

Since this horse breed was bred for transportation and athleticism, Akhal Teke Horses are known for superior stamina, speed, and agility. Today, they are mostly used for leisure riding, show jumping, and long-distance racing.

Interestingly, this breed is also known to be selective about who they bond with. After an Akhal Teke Horse bonds with one person, it may not bond with another. They sometimes even act like guard dogs for their bonded persons, but they can also be incredibly spirited and wild with the wrong person.

Akhal Teke horse
Image Credit: Ulruppelt, Wikimedia Commons

How Much Do Akhal Teke Horses Cost?

As one of the oldest and rarest breeds in the world, Akhal Teke Horses are pretty expensive. They will typically range between $5,000 and $35,000. A variety of factors will impact the exact price of an individual horse.

For example, its color, size, training, health, and age will all affect the pricing dramatically. The most expensive breeds will be large with gold, palomino, or black coloring. More so, where you live in the world can impact how much these horses cost since they are rare and only bred within certain countries.

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Typical Behavior & Temperament

Akhal Teke Horses are not known to be the most friendly or easy to train breeds. In fact, most people classify them as a one-person horse. What this means is that most Akhal Teke Horses will bond with one person and be very protective of them. Conversely, they will be hesitant to let new people ride or touch them.

If you are someone that the horse bonds with, you will have a devoted friend for the rest of its life. Additionally, Akhal Teke Horses are really free spirited. You need to know how to train them well and exercise them or else they could get very unruly. At the same time, they are sensitive and need a gentle hand.

Akhal Teke Horse on the field
Image Credit: Penyulap, Wikimedia Commons

Appearance & Varieties

Body Types

The first thing people notice when they look at an Akhal Teke Horse is their body type. These horses are very elegant and exotic because of their slim figure. You can compare their body type to that of a Cheetah or Greyhound.

Their heads are long and narrow, whereas the ears are also long but set forward. As a desert horse, they have dense bones in their legs, which are long and muscular. Their hooves are small and impressively hard.

Just as their body type is slim, so is their skin, which allows their veins to be pretty defined. Their tail and mane tend to be sparse, and they lack feathering around their feet. As for their size, Akhal Teke Horses are a medium sized horse.

Colors and Markings

Akhal Teke Horses can come in many colors, but the most popular include gold and black. Within the breed registry, any color is acceptable, so are any markings. Many of these horses have a gene cream dilution. This creates palomino, perlino, and cremello coats.

Additionally, many people desire the metallic sheen that comes with this horse. This metallic sheen is due to the horse’s coat. Their hair does not have an opaque center, which other horse hair has. Without this opaque center, the coat refracts light, giving it the appearance that the coat is glowing.

If the coat is cream colored, this metallic sheen will almost look golden. Gray or darker colored horses, in comparison, will have a glow that looks almost silver.

One other unique characteristic about these horses that they can potentially have pale blue eyes. This isn’t necessarily common, but it is not unheard of.

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How to Take Care of Akhal Teke Horses

Akhal Teke Horses require much more care and attention than other breeds. They are only recommended for people who already have experience with horse raising and training. Still, their habitat and stall conditions are very similar to other horse breeds, but they need plenty of room for movement.

Habitat, Stall Conditions & Setup

Outdoor Habitat

If you have an Akhal Teke Horse, it is important that you have a lot of roaming area for them to move around in. This breed can be incredibly restless, and it does not handle confinement very well. Off-set the stall confinement with plenty of area to move.

Akhal Teke Horse on pavement
Image Credit: Ulruppelt, Wikimedia Commons

Stall

Even though this horse does require a lot of space for activity and roaming, you also need to provide a stall. Make sure that the stall is large enough for the horse to move around and get up or down. A 1,000-pound horse should have a stall that is at least 12 feet by 12 feet. Within the stall, provide hay and water.

Temperature

Because this breed was bred in the desert, they can handle a variety of temperatures. Akhal Teke Horses handle heat better than cold, however. Simply ensure that the stall is properly shaded so they can cool down in the winter. Additionally, offer hoods and waterproof jackets for the winter.

Lighting

It’s a good idea to add lighting to a barn so that you and your horse can adequately see. LEDs are the most popular choices to put inside a stall.

Do Akhal Teke Horses Get Along with Other Pets?

Since Akhal Teke Horses are so rare and almost exclusively used for competition purposes, these breeds are typically not introduced to other animals. Because they were bred to live in herds, however, they tend to get along with other horses.

Even though they were bred for herd life, they can get jealous. This is especially true if one horse is getting too close to their designated person. For this reason, it is generally recommended to be cautious when housing Akhal Teke Horses with other horses.

More so, because these s, it is recommended to keep them away from other animals, especially animals that may scare, hurt, or upset them. These horses will not be aggressive to the other animals, but the other animals certainly can upset them.

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What to Feed Your Akhal Teke Horse

Because Akhal Teke Horses were bred in the desert, they do not have as intense diet and nutrition needs as other breeds or animals. Historically, this breed requires a high amount of protein, which allows them to stay energized in the harsh desert environment.

Given that these breeds are not raiding any towns in the modern world, they don’t need as much protein, but you still must be careful when feeding them. Provide your Akhal Teke Horse with a balanced diet with grass, hay, protein, and some grain.

Additionally, make sure your Akhal Teke Horse always has water. This breed will not drink as much water as others, but it is always best to have water constantly on hand for whenever they get thirsty.

Akhal Teke Horse on the desert
Image Credit: Artur Baboev, Wikimedia Commons

Keeping Your Akhal Teke Horse Healthy

Unfortunately, Akhal Teke Horses come with several notable health problems because they lack genetic diversity. As a result, you need to be careful and proactive for them to remain healthy.

Make sure you provide your Akhal Teke Horse with adequate food, nutrition, and water. Additionally, exercise the horse frequently because it gets restless and needs a lot of exercises.

There are some diseases that are unpreventable. Most often, they can experience cervical vertebral malformation, cryptorchidism, or naked foal syndrome. An Akhal Teke Horse will not develop these issues. Instead, it will be born with them. Medical intervention can help the symptoms.

One upside about these horses is that grooming is relatively easy. Simply brush your horse once a week or so to remove debris or tangles. Every day, inspect and clean the hooves to prevent injuries and infections.

Breeding

As an incredibly rare breed, Akhal Teke Horses are not very common. Only a handful of countries professionally breed these horses. Some of the more known breeding locations include the Netherlands or Germany.

Since most of these horses are bred in Europe today, the European Association of Akhal Teke (EAAT) established a breeding program.

Most Akhal Teke Horses are bred for sports purposes, including dressage, showjumping, and eventing. As a result, the EAAT breeding programs target agility and intelligence. For example, the programs include performance tests, stallion licensing, stallion breeding recommendations, and general evaluation.

Outside of these unique breeding programs, it is incredibly difficult to find one of these horses. They are not even bread in their native country of Turkmenistan anymore.

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Are Akhal Teke Horses Suitable for You?

Even though the Akhal Teke Horse is stunning and suitable for many environments, this breed is not for everyone. Because of their restless nature and spiritedness, this breed is mainly ideal for those with equestrian or equine backgrounds.

They require someone who can be gentle while giving them an experienced hand for training. Given that they can become defensive or sensitive with harsh corrections, a gentle but experienced trainer is imperative.

If you are interested in this breed but do not have the experience or resources, you might want to select the American Quarter Horse instead. This is also an old horse breed, but it is suitable for just about any rider or horse owner, including beginners.


Featured Image: Olga_i, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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