Monday, September 7, 2015

Dream horse

I was a horsy little girl, meaning I was obsessed with anything Horse, and even owned a horse/pony for a couple of years, until he was just too expensive to keep. This means I'm condemned to forever-longing, because it's not practical for me to ride unless I am willing to drive to Langley (1 1/2 hours round-trip) and pay fifty bucks an hour to go on an unfamiliar trail with an iffy horse. They also took one look at me and told me I needed at least an hour of refresher lessons before they would let me even get on. And forget about Caitlin, who took to horses just as easily and naturally as my daughter did: she would need at least 8 weeks. Ching.

So. No more horses, except the horses of the mind that have probably kept me from going completely crazy in my life (with a few exceptions).

For years I loved Arabians, as most little girls seem to, but now I see them as too exaggeratedly pretty, the forehead so broad and the muzzle so teeny it seems almost silly. The "jibbah" or dished shape of the head has become nearly ridiculous.  Perhaps this is public demand causing breeders to go for a My Little Pony look.

But there is no doubt that tipping a little Arab sauce into the mix can fire up equine genes, and it amazes me to see the Arabiform (my word) sculpted head and fine muzzle even in chunkier breeds.

All right, I'm working up to something here. I began to see pictures of this breed on Facebook not long ago, and was startled, not so much by the conformation as the coat. I felt I was looking at something like a Tennessee Walker with a very long, flexible neck, sleek body and impossibly high head carriage, but the forequarters were rippling with muscle like those of a Quarter Horse or even a Morgan. And then there was that supernaturally-glowing, metallic coat, as if the horse had been airbrushed with some sort of  platinum-based spray paint.

Not that I didn't love it.

This was a horse in silver and gold, a very ancient breed called an Akhal Teke. I had never heard of it before, but I was intrigued by the fact that  the legendary Byerly Turk, one of the three foundation sires of the Thoroughbred breed, may have been an Akhal.

I was always told the Arabian was "it", the fountainhead, the source of all horsedom, particularly the racehorse, but maybe "they" were wrong. These guys look more like the ancient representations of horses in stone friezes. No one would need to hold this horse's head up.

The Akhal-Teke (/ˌækəlˈtɛk/ or /ˌækəlˈtɛki/; from Turkmen Ahalteke[ahalˈteke]) is a horse breed from Turkmenistan, where they are a national emblem.[1] They have a reputation for speed and endurance, intelligence, and a distinctive metallic sheen. The shiny coat of palominos and buckskins led to their nickname "Golden Horses".[2] These horses are adapted to severe climatic conditions and are thought to be one of the oldest existing horse breeds.[3] There are currently about 6,600 Akhal-Tekes in the world, mostly in Turkmenistan and Russia, although they are also found throughout Europe and North America.[4]

These horses know they're beautiful, sort of like cats do, and who can blame them? I'm interested in the fact that they were crossbred with Thoroughbreds a long way back, perhaps to improve their speed and sleekness, as those frieze horses are more powerful and chunky. But they still hold their heads up high.

Silver and gold can't buy you a home 
When this life has ended 
And your time is gone 
But you can live in a world where 
You'll never grow old 
And things can't be bought there with silver and gold

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