The Akhal-Teke horse is the only horse breed whose origin is fanned by so many legends with a significant admixture of mysticism. Lovers of this breed are looking for its roots in 2000 BC. Nothing that, according to the historian-hippologist V.B. Kovalevskaya, the domestication of the horse began only 7000 years ago.
The Nisey horse of Parthia, mentioned in the chronicles of the times of Alexander the Great, is the Akhal-Teke breed, its ancestor or the Nisey horse has nothing to do with it? And if the ancestors of the Akhal-Teke from Ancient Egypt? Indeed, on Egyptian frescoes, chariots are harnessed to horses with a long body typical of modern Akhal-Teke horses.
But on such frescoes and dogs, too, with an unnaturally long body, which indicates the peculiarities of the fine arts in Egypt, and not the breed characteristics of animals.
The territory of modern Turkmenistan was alternately occupied by Iranian-speaking and Turkic-speaking tribes. Then the Mongols also rode past. Trade and cultural ties were relatively well developed even at that time, so looking for images of the ancestors of Akhal-Teke horses on dishes, decorations and frescoes is a futile business.
Formation of the breed
According to the official version, the Akhal-Teke horse breed was bred by the Turkmen tribe in the Akhal-Teke oasis. Moreover, the tribe bore the same name. In an amicable way, it is not even clear who gave the name to whom: a tribe of an oasis or an oasis of a tribe. In any case, the name "Akhal-Teke" is associated with this tribe and oasis.
But the documented history of the Akhal-Teke horse, due to the complete absence of writing among the Turkmen tribes, begins only with the arrival of the Russian Empire in Turkmenistan. A strict division of the world horse population into breeds and serious breeding work developed only since the 19th century. Prior to this, "breed" was defined by the country of origin of a particular horse.
There is documentary evidence that in the stables of Ivan the Terrible there were oriental horses, which in those days were called argamaks. But this was the name for all horses from the East. These horses could be:
Being "overseas", these horses were highly valued, but not all of them were Akhal-Teke horses. And, it is possible that Ivan the Terrible did not have Akhal-Teke horses at all.
Horses bred in those places were gradually divided into draft horses (Akhal-Teke horses), who carried chariots, and mountain pack horses (Arab). The version is based on the fact that almost 4000 years ago in that area, horses were indeed trained in chariots, and the training scheme was similar to that used by horse trainers at a later time.
Selection for the tribe
Until very recently, the horse was a means of transportation. A good horse, like a good modern car, was highly valued. And they overpaid for the brand too. But the main focus was on the fact that a good horse must withstand the demands placed on it. This was especially true of the horses of nomadic tribes, which constantly went on raids, then made long hauls.
The task of the Akhal-Teke horse was to quickly take the owner to the intended point and take him away even faster if it turned out that the camp intended for plundering could be repulsed. And often all this had to be done in an almost waterless area. Therefore, in addition to speed and distance endurance, the Akhal-Teke had to be able to do with a minimum of water.
In order to find out whose stallion was cooler, long-distance races with expensive prizes at that time were arranged. The preparation for the races was brutal. At first, the horses were fed with barley and alfalfa, and a few months before the races they began to "dry" them. The horses galloped for several tens of kilometers under 2-3 felts until they began to pour out sweat in streams. Only after such preparation was the stallion considered ready to fight the rivals.
Of course, the foals were not ridden by adults, but by boys. Such a harsh, from a modern point of view, treatment had a foundation. Such a custom still exists in the Caspian basin. And the point is the limited resources. It was necessary to select quality animals as early as possible and destroy the culling.
Only stallions that consistently won races were allowed to reproduce Akhal-Teke horses. The owner of such a stallion could consider himself a rich man, mating was expensive. But in those days it could be a horse of any breed, if only it won. Considering that during the times of the Arab Caliphate, Iran and part of modern Turkmenistan were ruled by the Caliphs, an Arab horse could also participate in the races. Who was influenced by whom in those days is a controversial issue: the living conditions and the tasks facing the war horses were similar. Most likely, the influence was mutual. And among the Akhal-Teke horses there are many different types: from the "statuettes" familiar to visitors to equestrian exhibitions to a rather massive type; from a horse with a very long body, to a short-body, similar in structure to an Arabian horse.
It is not always possible to recognize the horses of the Akhal-Teke breed in old photographs, and even the ancestors of the lines existing today.
For 100 years, serious selection work has been carried out, the result of which has become both a "porcelain figurine" above, and a horse of a sports type.
The fact that the origin of the Akhal-Teke horse breed is hidden by the veil of time, and the variety of types indicates that they were bred not only in the Akhal-Teke oasis, does not prevent anyone from admiring these horses today.
Myths and legends about the breed
One of the persistent cliches that scare away horse lovers from this breed is the myth of their wickedness and affection for the owner. There is a legend that Akhal-Teke horses were placed in a pit and the whole village threw stones at the horse. Only the owner pitied the horse and gave him food and water. So the breed of evil horses was bred directly according to Lysenko's theory.
In fact, everything was much simpler. The "loyalty" of the Akhal-Teke horse was explained by the fact that the foal from birth had not seen anyone except the owner. The family of the owner was the herd for the grown Akhal-Teke stallion. Not a single self-respecting stallion will be delighted with the appearance of a member of another's herd in the field of view and will try to drive him away. Bottom line: vicious beast.
And not a single evidence of the evil Akhal-Teke mare has survived. No wonder. The mares were sold. We took it for a while to get a foal from the famous stallion. In general, mares were treated like ordinary horses.
Although, if grown in "stallion" conditions, the character of the mare would also not be sugar in relation to outsiders. And a horse of any other breed, raised in similar conditions, will behave in the same way.
Since the days of the USSR, near the hippodromes and the plant that breed Akhal-Teke horses in Russia, there are clubs staffed by Tekins. They are taught to ride newcomers, horses change riders and the reaction of "unique evil monsters" does not differ from the reaction of horses of more common sports breeds.
The second myth: the Akhal-Teke is a psychotic brute who only dreamed of killing the rider during the race. This, too, has nothing to do with reality. The explanation is simple: the Akhal-Teke horses take part in race trials to this day, and in the USSR it was a mandatory procedure when selecting for a tribe.
The racehorse is trained to bump into the reins. The harder the jockey pulls on the reins, the harder the horse will invest in it. To increase the length of the gallop leap, the jockey "pumps" the reins, releasing the pressure at the right time. Trying to rest against the snaffle again, the horse unwittingly increases the extension of the front legs and the length of the captured space. The signal for the end of the race is the completely abandoned rein and the relaxation of the jockey's body. Thus, if you want to stop the Akhal-Teke horse, which has passed the racetrack tests, give up the reason and relax.
A beginner, on the other hand, mounted on a horse, instinctively uses the rein as a handle for support.
The reaction of a galloping Akhal-Teke to a taut rein: “Do you want to ride? Let's go! ”. The beginner, frightened, pulls the reins tighter. Horse: “Do you need faster? With pleasure!". Newbie's thoughts after the fall: "Those who said they were mad psychos were right." In fact, the horse honestly tried to do what the rider wanted from it. She's so accustomed.
Sincere admirers of the Akhal-Teke breed and the owners of the Argamak KSK in St. Petersburg Vladimir Solomonovich and Irina Vladimirovna Khienkin tried to break this conviction, speaking at horse shows in St. Petersburg and teaching young people to ride and tricks on Akhal-Teke horses. Below is a photo of the Akhal-Teke breed horses from the Argamak KSK.
These horses look little like mad evil psychos who dream of killing a person. In fact, the Akhal-Teke is a horse breed that does not stand out in any way in terms of character. In any breed there are "crocodiles" and good-natured human-oriented horses. In any breed there are phlegmatic and choleric people.
The video confirms once again that you can work with Tekins in the same way as with any other horses.
Standard horses are easier than other animals. The main thing is that the animal meets the requirements for it. There are usually several types and working lines in any horse breed. Often, if a horse shows good results, he will go to breeding, even if his legs are tied in a knot. Fortunately, a bow-legged horse cannot perform well.
The main features thanks to which the Akhal-Teke horse is recognizable in the photo:
- long body;
- long neck with high output;
- long, often straight croup.
The same structural features prevent her from successfully starting in equestrian sports. Growth could also hinder, as today athletes prefer tall horses. But her height was "corrected". Previously, the standard was 150-155 cm at the withers. Today it is culling, and the Akhal-Teke horses have "grown" to 165-170 cm at the withers.
At the same time, in the sports type Akhal-Teke can often be recognized only by the breeding certificate. In the photo, the Akhal-Teke stallion Archman of the Uspensky stud farm is a possible future producer.
Photo of the most famous Akhal-Teke horse - the Olympic champion Absinthe. The Germans still do not believe that there is no blood of German horses in Absinthe. This is a massive Akhal-Teke with a very correct addition.
For modern sports of high achievements, the Teke people have too many shortcomings in addition, although the Uspensky plant is trying to eliminate them. Many Tekins are distinguished by the presence of a neck with an Adam's apple.
A high neck opening also creates great difficulties, since in dressage the neck and head have to be artificially lowered down.
And jumping is hampered by a very long back and lower back. In a long horse, it is very easy for high jumps to damage the vertebrae of the dorsal and lumbar regions.
The leading positions in the races have long been occupied by Arabian horses and the rules have already been written based on this breed. Akhal-Teke horses have enough stamina, but they cannot recover as quickly as Arabian horses.
And the role of a hobby-class horse for Akhal-Teke horses was closed by the myths about this breed that exist in the minds of people. But there is a much more serious obstacle to increasing the popularity of the Akhal-Teke among the masses: an unjustifiably high price "for the skin". Usually, an Akhal-Teke horse is asked for at least 2 times more expensive than a horse of any other breed with the same quality. If the suit of the Akhal-Teke is also beautiful, then the price may increase by an order of magnitude.
Looking through the photos of Akhal-Teke horses, one cannot help but be amazed at the beauty of their colors. In addition to the main colors common to all representatives of the domesticated tarpan, the Akhal-Teke species have very common colors, the appearance of which is due to the presence of the Cremello gene in the genotype:
- nighting room;
The genetic basis of these suits is made up of the standard ones:
The gray color is determined by the presence of the gene for early graying. A horse of any color can become gray, and it is often difficult to say on what basis the graying occurred.
Today, the isabella suit has come into fashion and the number of Tekins of this suit is becoming more and more.
The stallions of this suit were left in the production staff of the factories. Although the Turkmens considered the Isabella-colored Akhal-Teke horse vicious and was removed from breeding. From their point of view, they were right. Isabella horses have a minimum of pigment, which should protect them from the burning sun of Central Asia.
A horse of any color is dark gray. It already prevents sunburn. Even a light gray horse has dark skin. This is noticeable in snoring and in the groin.
Isabella's skin is pink. It is devoid of pigment and cannot protect the horse from ultraviolet radiation.
In addition to the original colors, the Akhal-Teke's coat has a special metallic luster. It is formed due to the special structure of the hairs. The mechanism of inheritance of this shine has not yet been revealed.
It follows from this that, even if the Arabian horse influenced the Akhal-Teke horse, then there was definitely no reverse blood infusion.
In the presence of a metallic luster, golden-salty Akhal-Teke horses look especially beautiful. In this old photo, the horse of the Akhal-Teke breed is golden-salted.
Bucky Akhal-Teke with zonal darkening.
And "just" a dunky Tekinite in national dress.
Remembering the legends that in the old days Akhal-Teke foals traveled around a year, today many are interested in how old Akhal-Teke horses grow. Maybe you can ride them already in a year? Alas, the development of the Akhal-Teke is no different from the development of other breeds. They actively grow in height up to 4 years. Then the growth in height slows down and the horses begin to “grow maturity”. This breed reaches full development by 6-7 years.
Victoria Kunitsyna, Moscow
We have a black tekin in our club. A very funny guy. The hostess sometimes takes photographs, you look at them, there is not a horse, but a monster. He loves to pose and make faces. In fact, he is quite a sincere and reliable guy. It won't let you down in the field, it will help you on the route.
Valentina Tretyakova, Stvropol
I bought my horse in the stud farm as a year old. They carried him into the carriage in their arms. He came out, however, himself. Already a week later, he walked perfectly on a halter and gave legs. I stopped by at the age of three. Although the guy, of course, is impulsive and loves to play along, he does it not out of malice, but from an excess of strength. At the same time, he does not forget to make sure that I do not fly out of the saddle because of these games.
It is not known whether the Akhal-Teke will be able to withstand the modern requirements of big sport, but he could already now occupy the niche of a hobby-class horse for a rider who knows how to ride without any special sporting ambitions. In fact, this is only prevented by the unreasonably high price.