In the old Greek myth of King Midas, Midas had the golden touch which meant anything he came into contact with would turn to gold. Can you imagine a horse that looks like it’s made of gold? This isn’t a fairy tale, this is a real horse! Discover the secret of the Akhal-Teke.
20.The Golden Horse
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The Akhal-Teke is called the “World’s most beautiful horse.” Looking at that golden coat, it’s easy to see why the breed is so popular. The golden allure of the Akhal-Teke has inspired Russian generals, captivated horse breeders and even inspired a national holiday in its homeland. Come discover why the golden horse is rare, prized and one of the amazing creatures you’ll see.
19. A Coat of Gold
The Akhal-Teke is a show-stopper and quite a rare breed. You won’t often see it at your local horse show and when you do, all eyes will definitely be on it! There are only 6,000 of these horses located throughout the world. So where can you find these majestic steeds?
18. History of the Golden Horse
The Akhal-Teke comes from the Central state of Turkmenistan. It’s believe to be descended from one of the world’s oldest horse breeds, the Turkoman Horse. Most of the Akhal-Teke horses are found in Turkmenistan, but there are also some in Russia, Europe and North America. Though they’re pretty, the golden horses were bred for very special purposes. Read on to see how they were used!
17. Traits of the Akhal-Teke
Known for their strength and resilience, the Turkmen needed horses that could keep up with the harsh demands of their lifestyle. Their horses needed to help them with raids and warfare, so they were very selective about the breeds. The Akhal-Teke was one of their favorite breeds for a number of reasons. First, that amazing coat offered some great uses.
16. A Brilliant Color
Years of careful breeding has preserved the horses’ beautiful and brilliant coloring. One of the prized coats is known as the buckskin or the golden coat. The buckskin features a uniique metallic sheen that makes it appear to shine like gold when the horse is in the sun. Besides its beauty, the golden coat gave the ancient Turkman another advantage for one reason:
15. War Horse
The buckskin Akhal-Teke horse was a great horse to have in battle. Not only was the horse swift and hearty, it was also an amazing distraction. Once the Turkmen rode in on the golden horses, the breed’s coat would catch the enemies’ attention. They would be so interested in the Akhal-Teke that the Teke tribes could then attack when the enemy was distracted. There was one other great feature of the golden horse coat.
Bright and metallic as it was, the golden coat of the Akhal-Teke was a great form of camouflage. The sandy deserts had a pigment that was similar to the coat and allow the rider to blend in easier. The Turkmen owed much of their survival to the golden horse and were nomadic, so it was crucial they had the best horses they could breed.
13. Equine Hero
The Akhal-Teke was a breed that was able to handle the rough conditions the Turkmen often faced. A testament to their endurance was when several Turkmen road their Akhal-Teke horses for 84 days across 2,500 miles. The terrain they traveled included swamps, forests and deserts, but the horses survived the entire journey. Most notable was the fact the horses didn’t have anything to drink while traveling 235 miles worth of desert.
11. National Treasure
The Turkmenistan nation treasures the Akhal-Teke and has made the breed their National Emblem. It’s one of their most-celebrated icons and they have depicted the breed in golden statues plus included it on their coat of arms. Queen Elizabeth was even presented one of these amazing horses in 1956. What’s more, Turkmenistan even has a day-long celebration of the breed each April.
10. Endless Admiration
Turkmenistan officials consider their horses one of the most valuable things they own. So much so that they devote one day a year to the celebration of the breed. Known as Turkmen Horse Day, the festival celebrates the horses that are the Turkmen’s favorite partners, the horses they describe as “wings from heaven.”
9. Celebrating the Horse
Turkmen Horse Day features exhibitions, equestrian events, parades, and other activities about the golden horse. The festival is a national holiday and celebrates the Akhal-Teke’s legacy and history. This includes…
8. A Horse to Envy
The golden horse has the been the source of envy for years. In 1881, In 1881, the Russian General Kuropatkin of the Russian Empire witnesses the Akhal-Teke’s heroics when he battled the Turkmen. The General knew he had to make the horse his own and he took the steps to do just that.
7. Perfect Pedigree
The Russian General was amazed by the strength and endurance of the Akhal-Teke. After the the war was over, the Russian General established his own Akhal-Teke breeding farm. He then named the breed its official name…
7. Name Origins
The General wanted to honor the courage of the Teke tribesmen who fought so valiantly against the Empire. He named the golden horse “Akhal-Teke,” taking the name from the Teke group that lived near the Akhal oasis. He would not be the only one taken by these incredible horses.
6. Show Stopper
The Akhal-Teke is now bred for showing and racing purposes. Swift and gorgeous, it’s always a show favorite. However, the breed has suffered from several conditions over the years…
5. Cross Breeding
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The early 20th century brought a new era of cross-breeding the Akhal-Teke. Breeders decided cross the golden horse with thoroughbreds in a quest for the ultimate racehorse. Fans of the horse were concerned about this choice, however, because they wanted to preserve the integrity of the Akhal-Teke. The horses faced a new problem..
4. Population Decline
All of this cross-breeding resulted in horses that weren’t as swift or hearty as the breeders hoped. It also caused a major decline in the Akhal-Teke population. Geldy Kyarizov,Turkmenistan’s minister of horses, was trying to make a studbook for the breed when he discovered evidence of cross-breeding. He was highly angered but he couldn’t do anything about it…
3. The Results
Researchers now say that because this cross-breeding took place for such a long time, there isn’t one Akhal-Teke alive that doesn’t have ancestry without a Thoroughbred. Every time an Akhal-Teke is born, the foal must be blood typed to be listed as an official Akhal-Teke in the studbook.
2. The Agency
Turkmen Atlary is the agency responsible in Turkmenistan for breeding, training and maintaining the Akhal-Teke horses. The horses here aren’t in any official studbhook and some believe that many of the horses raced in Turkmenistan aren’t purebred. But there have been some amazing Akhal-Teke…read on to see what this horse did!
In 1960, the black Akhal-Teke stallion Absent won the Grand Prix de Dressage at the Summer Olympics in Rome. He also won a Bronze in the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and then the Soviet team gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics. He’s not considered a “purebred,” because his ancestry has Thoroughbred, however, he is one amazing horse! He’s just one example of the great legacy of the golden horse.