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The Akhal-Teke is one of the oldest known horse breeds to still be in existence. It has outlasted a number of other breeds that have come and gone out of the region that makes up Central Asia. Of the Four Foundation Breeds, the Akhal-Teke falls into the category of the Oriental subspecies, a category that also includes the Arabian. The other three species of Foundation breed include the Warmblood subspecies, the Draft and the Tarpan subspecies. All the known horse breeds of today are said to originate from one of these four categories. Who started the domestication of horses and when is not entirely known.
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The Oriental subspecies has features that are much thinner and more streamlined than other breeds. They are tall and tend to have more tendon than muscle, making them perfect for athletic activities such as endurance rides or jumping. Early in their development, various breeds of the Oriental subspecies were often used to carry out raids on neighboring villages. Their physiology is what eventually developed into the Akhal-Teke's ability to not only tolerate extreme climate and weather conditions, but ride long distances without any need for water. They could also thrive efficiently on what little foliage the desert landscape had to offer.
As these breeds were developed where survival was an issue, the Oriental subspecies has an acute intelligence that at times can be seen as stubborn or willful by the inexperienced horseman. However, it is known that many breeds developed in harsh conditions develop an uncanny intelligence as a survival mechanism. Had this escaped the Akhal-Teke, it would have died out with the other number of breeds that once roamed the same region. The nomadic tribes that came to depend on the Akhal-Teke used the breed's intelligence and agility to their advantage not only when on the move but when planning raids as well.
Over the years, as they became openly admired for their many gifts and features, there were a number of attempts to crossbreed the Akhal-Teke with others types of horses. The main goal was to create the perfect racehorse. However, no matter what the combination, the results always fell short of the expectation. In fact, some felt that it made for even weaker specimens. Eventually, all attempts to cross the Akhal-Teke with Quarter Horses and other breeds were abandoned. Many felt the traits of the ancient Oriental subspecies found in the Akhal-Teke could no longer partner with newer overly domesticated horse breeds.
It was nomadic tribesmen that invented the culture of the horse and kept it hidden for many hundreds of years. Presently, there are approximately four thousand or fewer of the Akhal-Teke breed spread throughout the world. Scientists who are still trying to point out the split between wild horses and domesticated horses based on physical evidence often study the Akhal-Teke for clues. It is one of the oldest of the Four Foundation Breeds and there are still many traits and features in the Akhal-Teke that help shed light on its earlier days.
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