Akhal-Teke Virtual Library

These references regarding the amazing Akhal-Teke horse, its storied past, present, and future, and on relevant horse-related topics more generally, are collected by the Akhal-Teke Foundation (ATF) as part of our educational mission.

We also maintain a physical reference library with additional materials not available online. Please let us know at "akhaltekefoundation@gmail.com" if you have Akhal-Teke questions, or suggestions for additional useful references.

Akhal-Teke as a Foundation Breed

Genome Diversity and the Origin of the Arabian Horse. Cosgrove, E.J., Sadeghi, R., Schlamp, F. et al. Sci Rep 10, 9702 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-66232-1

This recent research adds to the strong evidence that the Akhal-Teke, not the Arabian, is the breed of foundation stallions of the modern Thoroughbred.

“Contrary to popular belief, we could detect no significant genomic contribution of the Arabian breed to the Thoroughbred racehorse, including Y chromosome ancestry.”

“Recently... an analysis of horse Y chromosome haplotypes has indicated that the Y haplotype of the “Darley Arabian” actually originated from the Turkoman[/Akhal-Teke] horse, an ancient breed from the Middle East and Central Asia that is... also an “Oriental” type breed.”

“Five of the race-use [Arabian] horses carried the Tb-oB1* haplogroup attributed to the “Byerley Turk” foundation sire of the Thoroughbred breed. Tb-oB1* is found within a variety of breeds and lineages, including the Turkomen[/Akhal-Teke]. Therefore, these five horses may carry Y chromosomes derived from ancestors common to both racing Arabians and the Thoroughbred breed.”

In other words, from Akhal-Tekes.

Y Chromosome Uncovers the Recent Oriental Origin of Modern Stallions. Barbara Wallner, Nicola Palmieri, Claus Vogl, Stefan Rieder, Christian Schlötterer, Gottfried Brem, et al. Current Biology (June 29, 2017). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.05.086

"To identify the origin of Tb, we extended our samples by including the Akhal-Teke, the remnant of the Turkoman horse, and found that Tb is the most frequent haplotype among 78 Akhal-Teke males (81%, Figure 4B). Thus, Tb is likely of Turkoman origin and spread widely by English Thoroughbred stallions. Additionally, the presence of Tb in many European breeds with no documented influence of English Thoroughbred stallions shows the influence of Turkoman stallions, independent of the English Thoroughbred. This finding corresponds to the geopolitical development of the region."

Y chromosome genetic variation and deep genealogies provide new insights on Lipizzan sire lines. L. Radovic, V. Remer, S. Reiter, E. Bozlak, Felkel, G. Grilz-Seger, G. Brem, B. Wallner.  (April, 2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-66232-1

“...Horses from the remaining 6 sire lines grouped into haplogroup Tb. This haplogroup was recently characterized as a signature of the Turkoman horse...”

The Turkoman horse, now known as the Akhal-Teke.  Founding stallions for six out of the eight Lipizzaner sites lines. In other words, from Akhal-Tekes.

Databases of Akhal-Teke Horses

Akhal-Teke Association of America database

This is the recently-released "official" registration database of the ATAA, still undergoing corrections and updating.

Akhal-Teke Foundation database

This is a deep database complied from Russian studbook data by third parties, then rescued from digital oblivion by the ATF to preserve a useful community resource, including thousands of photographs. Horses from the last ten years or so are mostly not entered yet.

The Russian database

This is the official registration database of the All-Russian Research Institute of Horse Breeding, keepers of the Akhal-Teke master studbook.

All Breed Database

This big database is not official, -but it's quick and easy to use, includes many Akhal-Tekes, and has more analytical feastures. With a subscription, AllBreeds can do coefficent of inbreeding (COI) calculations.

Akhal-Teke Horse Registration

ATAA/VNIIK Dual Horse Registration through the Akhal-Teke Association of America

The Akhal-Teke breed is formally defined by the official registry at VNIIK in Russia. The Akhal-Teke Association of America (ATAA) acts as a convenient U.S. agent providing one-stop service for registering Akhal-Teke horses in Russia, while also maintaining its own ATAA registry of purebred and crossbred Akhal-Tekes in North America.

Akhal-Teke Breeders

There hasn't been a current master list of Akhal-Teke breeders in North America available as a public resource for some years, so we are taking this on as a service to the Akhal-Teke community. You can also contact us directly for leads to breeders in your local area.

Akhal-Teke Breeders List

Akhal-Teke Census

A consistent annual census of the breed is fundamental to preservation of a rare breed like the Akhal-Teke horse. The ATF is not aware of a current census of Akhal-Teke horses in North America that's available as a public resource. We are considering taking this on as a service to the Akhal-Teke community.

Early Horse Domestication in Central Asia

Origin and Evolution of Deleterious Mutations in Horses. Ludovic Orlando, Pablo Librado. Genes 10(9):649 (August 2019). DOI: 10.3390/genes10090649.

The Akhal-Teke is considered one of the oldest horse breeds, often said to go back some 4000 years. So the emerging science of early horse domestication in the Caspian area, especially from 3500 to 5000 years ago, may shed new light on the history of the breed.

The origins and spread of domestic horses from the Western Eurasian steppes. Pablo Librado et al. Nature volume 598, pages 634–640 (2021).

“Genetic continuity with DOM2 was rejected for all horses predating about 2200 BC, especially those from the NEO-ANA group (Supplementary Table 2), except for two late Yamnaya specimens from approximately 2900 to 2600 BC (Turganik (TURG)), located further east than the western lower Volga-Don region (Figs. 2a, b, 3a). These may therefore have provided some of the direct ancestors of DOM2 horses.”

Horse Behavior and Cognition Research

Horses are Sensitive to Baby Talk: Pet-directed speech facilitates communication with humans in a pointing task and during grooming. Lea Lansade, Miléna Trösch, Céline Parias, Ludovic Calandreau, et al. Animal Cognition (March 2021). DOI: 10.1007/s10071-021-01487-3

From the abstract:
"Pet-directed speech (PDS) is a type of speech humans spontaneously use with their companion animals. It is very similar to speech commonly used when talking to babies. A survey on social media showed that 92.7% of the respondents used PDS with their horse, but only 44.4% thought that their horse was sensitive to it, and the others did not know or doubted its efficacy. ... During a pointing task in which the experimenter pointed at the location of a reward with their finger, horses who had been spoken to with PDS (n = 10) found the food significantly more often than chance, which was not the case when horses were spoken to with adult-directed speech (ADS) (n = 10). These results... indicate that horses, like certain non-human primates and dogs are sensitive to PDS. PDS could thus foster communication between people and horses during everyday interactions."

Interpretive article:
Do You ‘Baby Talk’ to Your Horse? She Hears You. Robin Foster, The Horse, 4/4/2021.

Horses Categorize Human Emotions Cross-Modally Based on Facial Expression and Non-Verbal Vocalizations. Miléna Trösch, Florent Cuzol, Céline Parias, Ludovic Calandreau, Raymond Nowak, and Léa Lansade. Animals (Basel). 2019 Nov; 9(11): 862. DOI: 10.3390/ani9110862

Preserving Rare Equine Genetics

Manual of Methods for Preservation of Valuable Equine Genetics in Live Animals and Post‐Mortem Second Edition (PDF). Kindra Rader, Charles C. Love, Charlene R. Couch, and Katrin Hinrichs. The Livestock Conservancy (2022).

This PDF manual includes valuable information, including steps on how to accomplish an emergency posthumous semen collection from a rare breed stallion, from posthumous dissection to epididymal flush and freeze. The new Second Edition adds super handy quick reference sheets in the front for emergency situations, plus detailed coverage of new advanced techniques.

Rare Breed Management

Managing Breeds for a Secure Future: Strategies for Breeders and Breed Associations Third edition (book). D. Phillip Sponenberg, Alison Martin, Jeannette Beranger. 5m Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-1789181647 (2022).

An invaluable reference for responsible rare breed breeders and deep rare breed supporters. The updated Third Edition, released February 2022, includes important new practical information, useful for Akhal-Teke breeders.

Real Akhal-Teke Adventure Stories

Black Sands and Celestial Horses: Tracks Over Turkestan (book). Gill Suttle. Scimitar Press, ISBN-13: 978-0953453627 (2012).

A great first-person travelog of a brave woman in the 1970s, striking out alone to fulfill her dream of riding a rare Akhal-Teke stallion through the remote countryside of Turkmenistan.

The Byerley Turk: The True Story of the First Thoroughbred (book). Jeremy James. Merlin Unwin Books, ISBN-13: 978-1873674987 (2007).

A sweeping adventure through war and aftermath in the 1600s, from the keyhole view of a magnificent Akhal-Teke stallion and his people. The portrait of Akhal-Teke courage and personality shines through, remarkably spot-on, strikingly vivid and affectionate. Fine historical fiction, based on the true story of a historic founding stallion of the English Thoroughbred.

The Merv Oasis - Travels and Adventures East of the Caspian during the years 1879-80-81 including Five Months’ Residence among the Tekkes of Merv (book, two volumes). Edmond O’Donovan (1883).

“After dinner there was a review, the men being ordered out to ride races in pairs. A small prize was given to the winner of each match. The horses were really beautiful animals, mostly of the pure Turcoman [Akhal-Teke] breed. They are somewhat narrow in the chest, and long in the legs. In general they have little mane, owing perhaps to the friction of their heavy felt coverings. They are of tolerable speed, and of wonderful endurance. The horsemanship of the riders was superb.” p58
“I have rarely beheld anything so lovely as the long ridges of the Akhal Tekké hills, succeeding each other in endless sequence, in varying tints of ashy grey, blue, and rose, till they die out in the golden haze where the sun has gone down. The rolling expanse of cornfield and pasture sleeps in tranquillity, and here and there the evening light glints on the waters of the Atterek, where the winding of that river brings it into view.” p461
“The horses are generally of the Persian breed, being a mixture of Arab and Turcoman blood, but thoroughbred Turcomans are also frequently exposed for sale. I saw two fine ones offered for sale in the bazaar on the day of my arrival. They were very richly caparisoned. Besides embroidered saddle cloths and housings, they had heavy silver collars studded with turquoises and cornelians, and corresponding ornaments on every available part of the body. The value of the trappings must have equalled that of the steeds themselves.” p487