Preserving the Past, Living the Present, Protecting the Future….

"Akhal-Teke Breed Spotlight Event at HorseWorld"

HorseWorld, the visitor centre of the Friends of Bristol Horses Society - one of Britain's largest charitable equine rescue sanctuaries and retirement homes, is to host a special event to spotlight the rare and unusual Akhal-Teke breed of horses on Saturday 18 August.

Organised by the Akhal-Teke Society of Great Britain the event will not only feature displays and a parade of a number of purebred, and partbred, Akhal-Teke horses but also displays of costume and jewellery from Turkmenistan, as well video presentations about the breed and a display of paintings depicting Akhal-Teke horses by Bridget Tempest. The pride of Turkmenistan, Akhal-Teke horses are part of the sovereign states national emblem and it is hoped that a member of the Turkmenistan embassy will also be visiting the event during the day.

Originating from Turkmenistan, a province of the former Soviet Union, the Akhal-Teke is an ancient breed descended from one of the four horses types that crossed the Bering Strait from the Americas in prehistoric times. Originally bred as war mounts, they were used by the Turkomen warriors for hundreds of years. In Chinese legend they were known as the "Heavenly Horse". Bred for centuries in this location away from the main trade routes, the Teke tribesman were able to keep the purity of their horses and produced a breed that today is considered to be of exceptional value, not only in its own right as a competitive sports horse, but also for producing warm blooded sports horses when crossed with heavier breeds. Now recognised as being the oldest and purest form of southern horse, originating from the Akhal oasis at the foothills of the Kopet Dag Mountains, bordered by the Kara Kum desert the breed are the pride of the Teke tribesman.

In appearance the Akhal-Teke horse is similar to its descendent, the Persian Arab, though in size it is more comparable to another of its descendants, the English Thoroughbred. It is generally accepted that the foundation of all English Thoroughbreds traces back to three stallions, one an Akhal-Teke and another with a large proportion of Akhal-Teke blood. The Akhal-Teke has a small thin head, long ears and oriental shaped eyes. It has a short silky mane or no mane at all, and a fine tail. Akhal-Teke's are known for their golden colouring but they can also be black, dappled, dun, bay, grey or chestnut coloured. Fed a low bulk, high protein diet the Akhal-Teke maintains its traditionally lean proportions of long sinewy legs, a narrow deep chest, and a long back. Its small hooves are unusually hard and are therefore rarely shod in its native homeland.

The Akhal-Teke developed endless stamina and the ability to withstand extremes of temperature from its harsh environment. The tribesman had their own special methods of horse management. They were kept in small groups, tethered to stakes and blanketed to protect them from the extreme dessert temperatures. They fed them pellets of food, containing alfalfa, barley and mutton fat, fresh forage was only available for about three months of the year.

The Akhal-Teke Society of Great Britain was formed in 1990 to act in the best interest of the Akhal-Teke, and to guide breed development in the UK. To date there are only 24 purebred and 23 partbred horses in the country.

Formed almost 50 years ago to provide shelter and retirement for working horses that had fallen victim to industrial mechanisation the Friends of Bristol Horses Society is know home to over 220 horses, ponies and donkeys. As well as the opportunity to meet nearly 40 of the rescued horses, ponies and donkeys a whole host of other attractions at HorseWorld include an interactive "Exhibition of the Horse" and "Heritage Tack Museum", a film presentation of the societies work, horse parades, children's play area, "Noah's Ark" companion animals, nature trail, picnic area, restaurant and tearoom, plus gift shop.

Located in a group of beautiful listed Mendip stone farm buildings, dating back to the early nineteenth century, Staunton Manor Farm has been carefully restored to its former glory and brought back to use to give HorseWorld a wide range of modern facilities, while still retaining the character and splendour of a friendly yet authentic rural environment with a charming and peaceful atmosphere.

HorseWorld provides a unique rural setting located midway between Bath and Bristol, just off the A37 at Whitchurch. The visitor centre is open daily between 10am and 6pm. Further information about the visitor centre, can be obtained by visiting our web site at or by telephoning 01275 540173.

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Updated: October 2005.