Date: April 2002
Q: Are the Tekes late in their devlopment?
A: I think feeding and the growth of the young horse is very interesting, there are not too many studies performed on how feeding, training and exercise affects the growing horse though.
The adult height and weight and many other traits in the horse are affected by the genes and the environment.
Every horse has a "genetic" height over the withers, which I consider the optimal height.
The genetical input in the horse is made only once, it is made by the breeder who does the selection of the breeding couples, it can only be made once and cannot be changed. That is why the selection of the breeding couples are the most important decision in breeding of any species.
When xx refers to "natural height" I guess she means the genetical height.
A horse cannot grow over its genetical height. It can grow under its genetical height though, or be injured due to unbalanced feeding in young years.
In xx's case, she bought a three-year-old undernourished horse from Russia, that has been growing until the age of six as it has been compensating for starvation during early years. Therefore xx consider her Akhal-Teke a horse that has matured late in life. The horse is not trained under rider until it is 6 years old.
On the other hand, the Akhal-Tekes that are in correct feeding programs are on the race track as two-years-old and are very well developed.
Are the Akhal-Tekes earlier or later developed than other breeds? If they are later or earlier, is it due to genetics or environment? Do we think that the Tekes are late and therefore underfeed them, if so we create serious problems for the grown up horse as the durability of the horse will be affected by undernourishment in early ages.
These questions are important for the breeder and owner of young horses to figure out.
Overfeeding is better than underfeeding, but unbalanced feeding is devastating. As long as the feeding program for each individual horse is balanced, it can probably be fed with a lot of grain.
In order to make success with your feeding program, it must be combined with exercise. All horses need daily exercise. For the young horses it means to spend at least all days outside in large pastures. Lack of exercise affects the durability of the grown up horse negatively.