MBHITW

If you search the words ‘Most Beautiful Horse in the World’, these are the images of the horse typically associated with that title.
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As most reading this blog will know, our most beautiful horse candidate is an Akhal-Teke. For any unfamiliar with this breed here are a couple links to get you started:

http://www.akhal-teke.org/
http://www.akhalteke.cc/

Beauty, of course, is always in the eyes of the beholder with each of us defining beauty in the world by our own subjective criteria. There are many who will be dazzled simply by the metallic glow of this beast. However, to be most serviceable to those we care take, such as the equine, I think it’s more important to define equine beauty by structure that promotes health, soundness and longevity for purpose. In other words, form for function. In many regards this horse exemplifies its breed for ‘original’ intended purpose and environment:

  • thin-skinned to facilitate body cooling
  • long, lean muscles that generate less heat and are suited for endurance
  • overall racy build for distance coverage
  • clean, dry joints, good feet

Without going beyond the two links I provided, you will find this breed touted as excellent for endurance, dressage, jumping, eventing, vaulting, extreme trail etc… The reality is always the same; it depends on the individual horse, the skill and talent of trainer and rider, the level within the discipline and so on.
I question the purity of some of the horses pictured on the Akhal-Teke.org website. Some of them look like crossbreds to me. Certainly the Akhal-Teke, and our Most Beautiful horse, is ideally suited to endurance and any disciplines that require above average stamina and endurance. They’d also tend to be suited to disciplines requiring racing/speed.

Suitability for Dressage
Mhm…not so much and certainly not more than any other random racing conformed individual one can get off the racetrack, and it shows in the dressage pictures displayed on the website I linked. This is simply not a breed, if your ‘serious’ about dressage (medium and up with a natural ability for self-carriage), that will hit your top 10 (or 100) list.

Suitability for Jumping
Certainly able to leap lower level structures like most any other sound equine, and with a little speed added to the equation, even higher. If you take a closer look at the pictures of the individuals jumping and fox hunting on the website, you’ll notice that there are some distinct conformation differences between them and our Most Beautiful Horse, the most obvious being length of pelvis, more general body bulk and compactness. Some of these I suspect are crossbreds.

Suitability for Vaulting
Really? I find this beyond grasping at straws. The ideal vaulting horse almost always is of draft blood, perhaps some mix in there of warmblood. The gaits of the vaulting horse are essential; rhythmic, slow, absorbing, balanced, a chill, obedient temperament, and also that the horse have some body width and mass. Our Most Beautiful Horse fairly represents his breed and is definitely not suited for vaulting in his body.

Suitability for Endurance/Extreme Trail
Duh!

Faults
The Akhal-Teke could stand to be improved in a few areas, while still maintaining its intended purposes AND becoming more suited to other riding disciplines.

Wither – many of the breed possess camel withers. This makes for a rough, disrupted (withers can’t act as well as the fulcrum point) neck connection, and possible saddle fit issues.

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Neck – many of the breed possess bull and/or ewe necks (also similiar to a camel). This makes lifting of the base of neck (flattening of the lower cervical curve – which is long and deep in bull (often set on low) and ewe necks -) more difficult, and as that is part of engagement…

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Even when this horse articulates its hind joints, lowers its haunch, and lifts its base of neck as a demonstration of engagement, still it is unable to entirely flatten the lower cervical curve; a disruption remains.

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Pelvis – many of the breed lack pelvic length. This individual is barely adequate at 29%. Fortunately he has a well-placed LS joint, but this one certainly doesn’t possess any power or explosive ability – like what might be required for getting horse and rider out of a spot on the cross country phase.

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I think this is a picture of the same horse in movement. If not, it’s a very good likeness and perhaps a sibling. In any case, we can see the natural tendency to high-headedness and dropping down of the withers that comes from the same neck structure, as well trailing hocks from being over-angulated behind. This is not suitability for riding disciplines.

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In conclusion, he’s not ‘my’ Most Beautiful Horse because structurally he lacks in some key areas, even if I only consider him for original purposes.

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