Standard of Akhal-Teke breed
"…A fusion of snake, cheetah and eagle"
(from Irina Khienkina)
Not without reason was this comparison made by Irina Khienkina.
Alongside other horses Akhal-Tekes resemble creatures from another planet. They impress by virtue of the refinement and dryness of their exterior and as a spectator at the l882 All-Russian exhibition remarked where the golden dun stallion Sardar was shown "by their unique conformation which runs counter to generally accepted principles." With its long back, high withers, deep rib cage, long fine and dry legs with clearly defined tendons, powerful croup and splendidly developed hip and thigh muscles, the tall narrow-chested Akhal-Teke is reminiscent of the fasted of all animals - the cheetah. Its flexibility, smooth paces and unusually high setting of the pliable neck invite comparisons with a cobra ready to strike. The Akhal-Teke's majestic and proud appearance and its powerful gallop which creates the illusion of flying bring to mind the qualities of the eagle. There is one other unique conformational feature of the Akhal-Teke; "the head is set on the neck at an acute angle such as can be found in no other breed….,yet the horizontal line from the mouth seldom passes above the highest point of the withers because of the long neck and small head."
The striking originality of the breed is also apparent in the shape of the head which is light and dry with a long refined face, long fine ears and the unique "Teke" setting of the eye reminiscent of a bird of prey. The fine breeding of the Akhal-Teke also shows in the sensitive skin and fine silky mane and tail. With many Akhal-Tekes the mane is not just fine and sparse, but almost entirely absent.
A feature of the breed is its great variety and gradation of colours, particularly golden. In antiquity the ancestors of the Akhal-Teke were golden. However the hair of the Akhal-Teke is so fine and silky that it gives a special metallic sheen to any colour. The commonest colours are: bay (39.9%), dun (22.4%), black (12.3%), chestnut (11.2%), gray, light bay and cream are less frequently encountered. The Turkmens often named their horses according to their colour and markings. Thus, Karakush means blackbird, Melekush - dun bird, Dorsekil - bay with a stripe and Kirsakar - gray with a star.
Description of characteristic type and exterior of Akhal-Teke horse
Head: light, dry with wide lean lower jaw, straight profile or with convex forehead, prolonged facial part; big eyes with special slanting shape (slant-eyed) and overhanging superciliary arches; thin, mobile, high set up ears; thin lips and nostrils; long, wide poll.
The head is set on the neck at acute angle.
Neck: high set, long, straight or S-arched, round in cross-section, flexible.
The withers: high, long, well-muscled.
The shoulder: long, slant set, with well-developed muscles
The upper arm: with normal slope, well-muscled
The chest: deep, wider behind shoulders, oval form, with long false ribs.
The back and loins: even, relatively wide, may be with some insignificant lengthiness
The croup: with normal slope, sometime a bit slopping, wide, long, and with strong muscles lowering well down to gaskin.
The tail: low and deep set, often practically hair-less at the dock
Legs: lean, long with well-developed joints and firm well-shown tendons, small strongly built hooves. The legs stand parallel to each other, feather are absence or very insignificantly present.
Muscles: flat, dense with long fibers
Coat: thin, silky, light main and tail, forelock and feather are absent or insignificantly present.
Movements: spacey, flexible, elastic, with good impulse, comfortable for rider at all gates; strong, flexible jump at flat trajectory and good style.
Colors: big variety of colors from black to cream, often with typical metallic shine – golden and silver.
Expressed markings/spots could be met, similar to tobiano.