Date: April 2001
Q: I think it would be prudent to define the
word "improvement" here. What is it with the Teke that needs improvement?
Are there health concerns that need consideration? Does the temperament
need improvement? One could ask these types of questions about everything.
I think what the objective should be to look at the uses and conditions that
made the breed valuable in the first place, and work/train/breed to maintain
those traits. I think that there are many connotations to the word
"Improvement."


A:
I can only speak for my own breeding goals, my breeding goals are based on
research on the origins of the breed and the breed's history from the
Antiquity until today.
The word improvement is NOT a cliché on our stud farm it is one of our
breeding goals, the Akhal-Teke breed has always been bred for improvement.

I recommend the book "A Conservation Breeding Handbook" by D. Phillip
Sponenberg and Carolyn J. Christmas ISBN 1-887316-00-0 for anyone
interested in breeding rare breeds.

Improvement and selection is not the same as changing the breed standards
to your own taste, a breeding program based on conservation and improvement
is designed to conserve the breed as an original genetic identity this also
include selecting for soundness and type. Selection for improvement is
based in improving several traits which are typical for the breed.

There are many good examples of breeds that have maintained their
typicalness over the years for example the Native pony breed of Great
Britain, several native cold bloods of Central Europe.

The overall impression of the Akhal-Teke should be that of an athletic
aristocrat, with a dry head with expressive hooded or snake eyes the head
should be set to the neck with an angle of 45 degrees, the neck is long and
thin set high onto long sloping shoulders, the legs are long and straight
with well formed hooves, the back is normal and the croup is long and
sloping, the tail is set low. Optimally there is no forelock and no or very
little mane, the root of the tail is often hairless. The pasterns are long.
Unique for the breed is that often the pasterns of the hindlegs are longer
or as long as the pasterns of the forelegs. This is an adaption to work on
a sandy ground.
The skin and coat are very thin, this is an adaption to chill off quickly
after working hard in heat, that is one of the reasons to why the Tekes
have an extraordinary ability to quickly recover after hard work.
The ability to recover is also said to have evolved form the old tradition
of the stallion owners that had stallions that where very sought after by
the mare owners, mare owners could travle very far to get their mares
covered by the best and most merited stallion, selection, every time a mare
arrived the stallion owner would race his stallion so that the mare owners
could see how fast he was, during the breeding season there could be
several races per day and al ot of mares to cover for the most sought after
stallions, selection.
The height over the withers for stallion should be 16.0 - 16.1 hands and
for mares 15.2 - 15.3 hands.
All colors are allowed, the paint and dun colors do not exist in the breed.
Often the coat of the tekes has a metallic sheen.

This is breed standard that is close to the type of horse that has existed
in Central Asia for more than 2 500 years. When for example selecting only
for modern sport horse traits, or only for color of course other traits
might get lost.
Every breeder makes his own choices for what traits to select, or if they
even select at all.

> So haw does breeding affect performance or vice versa?
>It takes many years of close observation and experience to become a master
of
>any trade.

Horse breeding is like training horse it is a life long learning. As a
breeder you must constantly educate yourself on the breed and its typical
traits.


> Will the Theke withstand the test of modern times?

No breed is preserved, it evolves all the time, so has the Tekes,
unfortunately the breed suffered a lot towards the end of the 19th century
and the beginning of the 20th century as their original breeders could not
afford to breed the tekes according to their tradition, my personal opinion
is that we still continue the work of Mazan, "To restore this magnificent
breed to its former glory".
 

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