Date: June 1997
Q: Notes from the Second Annual North American Akhal-Teke Conference

A: Second Annual North American Akhal-Teke Conference
May 3 & 4, 1997
Staunton, Virginia

Notes sent to mailing list by Steve Hallmark

Introduction - Phil Case

As Officers and Directors of the North American Akhal-Teke Association (NAA-TA), Phil and Margot have decided to appoint a transition committee, which will have a dual purpose:

1. Govern the day to day operation of the Association

2. Develop the organization structure (i.e. possibly non-profit 501.c.3) of
the association within two years, with official elections of officers at the end of the second year.

Transition Committee Officers

President - Martha Bowles
VP West - Tedi Rae Paasch
VP East - Lyn Busacca
Treasurer - Jas Shearer-McMahon
Secretary - Cathy Leddy
Adjunct - Elaine Beardman (w/ primary responsibility to assist with the
registry)

Issues for the Transition Officers to determine:

- Organizational Structure

- Corporate and Registry Seals

- Handling Letters of Inquiry

- Promotional Material and Events

- Fee Structure (Membership, Pedigree Registration/Transfer, ect.)

Phil noted the hard work by Todd Keith, with the development of the Akhal Teke Web Page and the electronic publishing of the Stud Books. Hopefully, the NAA-TA will be able to work with Todd in developing a manageable electronic data base for the Full Blood and Part-Bred North American Stud Books.

Phil feels that the Akhal-Teke Sport Horse Crosses probably have great potential for promoting the versatility of the breed.

International Breeders Report

Sabine Topfer-Gebert, Germany

Started their A-T breeding program in the early 80's. Currently have 20+ A-T's.
By law, the A-T Breeding Organization is too small to establish it's own union in Germany.
Promoting A-T's in the the Sport Horse disciplines - Dressage, Eventing, Trecking, Distance Riding, Hunting and Pleasure.

Noted the need for an international organization to help manage the Breed Registry.

Tito Pontecorvo, Russia

Concurs with Phi that the A-T Sport Horse crosses have good potential for promoting the breed.

Planning on exporting initially 40 to 50 A-T to a breeding and training facility in Texas, USA.

Looking for investors

Sharon Saare - Saddle Fitting

Sharon Sare is from Berthod Colorado, USA and owns two Akhal Teke's that she purchased from the Sprandell Auction.

Rode her first of three Tevis Rides in 1963.

Sold Poncho to Will Tevis, who went onto set the all time record for the shortest completion time of the Western States Endurance Ride (Tevis).

Started saddle making over 25 years ago, because they couldn't get saddle makers to build the right saddle for endurance.

Feels the A-T has a lot to offer the American equine breeds by influencing desirable confirmation traits.

Unfortunately, most traditional equine breeding programs in the US have concentrated on influencing visual confirmation and not functional purpose.

Ideal confirmation for a saddle horse - Prominent whithers, which are slightly higher than the croup, and a slight downhill back from the croup to the whither.

The farther forward a saddle rigging, the more stable a saddle. However, a full forward rigging can be restrictive to the horse's movement.

Generally, try to move the position of the rigging back (center fire) in order to allow proper movement.

Cinch galling is more often caused by where the cinch is located (to far forward), and not the material it's made from (mohair, neoprene, leather, ect.).

Phillip Sponenberg - Equine Coloration and Genetics

Dominant genes do not cause surprises.

Recessive genes do cause surprises. When you pare two animals which both have recessive genes, then you get a surprise.

Dun - dominant gene. It's indicated by a dorsal stripe from the whithers to the tail dock, and leg barring (stripes).

Cremello - Lightens red to yellow (palomino?) with one dose (only one parent has the recessive gene). Lightens red to cremello with two doses (both parents have the recessive gene).

Champagne - Creates metallic coloration in breeds other than the A-T.

Gray - A dominant gene.

Black - Is more common in the A-T breed than most other equine breeds.

Gus Cochran - Bloodtyping and the Akhal-Teke

Involved with blood typing of rare equine breeds for about eight years.

Two things to consider when looking at a gene pool:

1) Variability - Within the breed, and

2) Relationship - How does your breed relate to other breeds.

It's important to understand the contribution of the Thoroughbred to the A-T.

Generally, an outcross four to five generations back in a pedigree will not have significant influence on the breed. In fact, an occasional outcross may be genetically beneficial to the genetic viability of a bred.

By eliminating the A-T with thoroughbred blood from the breed, you potentially may be damaging a breed which has a limited gene pool. I.E. You're limiting an already restricted breeding pool.

Developing Strains

Breed particular lines and occasionally outcross. This prevents limiting the gene pool.

Line breeding has merit, as it develops particular strains within the breed.

Don't limit breeding to always outcrossing (i.e. a genetic melting pot). This practice can be disastrous to the breed, since ultimately all of the individuals become the same.

If a breed develops an undesirable trait, it should be limited to the particular strain with the breed - if you've practice line breeding. (The HYPP gene in the Impressive quarter horse line is probably an example)

It is inevitable for a closed population to become lacking in variability.

Be harsh in your criteria when a producing member of the breed (Stallion, Mare) is throwing a bad genetic trait. This member must be removed from the gene pool.

Selecting/breeding for different disciplines for a given breed is a very good method of assuming it's adaptability to different applications. This provides exposure of the breed to a wider audience. (Ex: The demise of the draft horse breeds in America after the mechanization age).

Next Step - Wants to incorporate DNA evaluation into the evaluation process, in an attempt to improve on the accuracy of blood typing information.

Tatyana Ryabova - International Report on the A-T Breed

(I apologize if my notes seem disjointed. Tatyana's presentation was part prepared statement, and part Q&A. As such, some of the Q&A will refer back to parts of the prepared statement. I felt you'd rather receive the information without me taking a lot of time editing).

The A-T stud book is published not less than once every four years.

Artificial insemination/embryo transfer is permitted under the Russian stud book.

Deliberate falsification of a horse's records will result in an immediate rejection from the stud book.

Any questionable heritage in a horse's pedigree will immediately raise concerns about an animal's heritage, and would probably reject a horse from registration.

Russian Branding System

- Generally, only horses kept in herds are branded (especially those mares covered by stallions in a herd situation).

- Not always branded the same way (shoulder vs. Hip).

- Branded as weanlings.

- Brands include:

Birth Date (I'd assume only the year and possibly the month)

Stud Farms insignia

Registration #

(I believe there was more, but I didn't capture all of the items)

Iranian Blood Infusion into the Stud Book - Currently, there's no way to document how the horses are being bred in Iran and Afghanistan. Would need to establish a relationship with the breeders to document their breeding program (i.e. Registration process and Pedigree documentation). However, she did not feel this was being done.

There are two Russian Studbooks: Pure Bred and Crosses. The 10th stud book is currently in development.

Horses can be upgraded/downgraded in the studbook, if the information on a pedigree proves to be different or contrary to the truth.

A-T Grading System

- First evaluation occurs at 2 years of age, when the horse begins to race.

- Three items evaluated: Type, Measurement and Constitution (Confirmation?)

- Second evaluation occurs after it's racing career is completed.

- The third and final evaluation, documents the horse's breeding performance.

An expert from Russia could be brought to the US for grading of the American horses.

A special certificate is required in Russia to entitle someone to grade A-T horses.

Over the last twenty years, breeding and grading has concentrated on preservation of the breed.

The grading is centered around typology.

(A questioned was asked about the difference between an Elite and Class 1 grade. Unfortunately, I didn't capture the explanation. I believe she said there wasn't an Elite vs. Class 1 grade. Any help here would be greatly appreciated.)

Grading includes:

- Blood typing

- Proven origin (Pedigree documentation)

Evaluation of the following (10 points each)

Pedigree
Type
Measurement
Exterior
Performance
Quality of the Progeny

Currently trying to developing a new grading program. (Tatyana did not expand upon this item).

Currently, there are 17 lines recognized by the Russian Stud Book.

The A-T can be successfully line bred without detrimental results.

Pedigree Accuracy - Currently, don't trust a Russian pedigree without Tatyana's signature and the Official Seal.

First week in September, Annual International A-T meeting is held in the Caucuses.

In Turkmenistan, endurance was the trait the Turkman bred for, as it was dictated by the climate. The A-t proved to be an able and responsive breed, that is extremely adaptable to harsh conditions. Originally, the Turkman would race upwards to ten times in one day to impress potential customers that wished to breed to their stallions. This is believed to be why the A-T has developed such good recoveries.

The Turkmenistan Embassy representative who was present, shared the following tribal proverb: "When you first wake in the morning, say hello to your father. Then say hello to your horse.".

An annual report on the A-T breed is produced, which includes a list of recommended studs.

State of the A-T in '96

- 261 Sires

- 1120 Mares

- The mean measurements of these individuals is (If I remember my statistics definitions, mean is the most common occurrence within a population. Whereas, median would be the average measurement of the overall population. If I'm incorrect, please let me know).

15-3 Hands tall
163 cm in length
176 cm chest circumference
19 cm cannon bone length (Circumference would be nice)

- 22% of the horses are in Russia

- 54% of the horses are in Turkmenistan

- 6% of the horses in other Russian States

- 17% of the horses are abroad (US and Europe)

Tatyana is concerned about the increase in non-pure sires in Turkmenistan.

General color predominance:

Increase ^ Buckskin
In ^ Black
Color ^ Chestnut

Between breeds:

Increase ^ Thoroughbred
In ^ A-T
Speed ^ Arab

(I'm using the ^ to indicate an upward arrow).

Due to a severe Turkmenistan winter in '95-'96, of 300 mares covered at the largest stud farm, only 9 foals survived.

On April 3, 1996, Sergi ____________ the great Russian Olympic rider passed
away. The breed has lost a valuable friend and promoter.

 

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