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Akhal-Teke
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Jan 11th, 2008 09:30 pm
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Allen, much though I'd like to help you out on this -- you yourself having been so very helpful to me and others here through your generous sharing of your own horses, equipment, and excellent approach to training -- it is absolutely against the rules of this Forum for me or anyone else to comment on a horse that is not owned by the person who presents the photo. I have therefore deleted them. If the owner of the horse himself wishes to re-post the images, that will be great. Otherwise, Allen, you can:

(1) Present a tracing of either photo that you made yourself. Then it is your image and it becomes sufficiently impersonal that we are discussing the concept or the particular body structure only, instead of discussing someone's horse. For obvious reasons, any negative comments I might have to make will impact the owner's life and fortunes.

(2) Don't present any image, but instead ask a question about some particular aspect of conformation, i.e., "I've seen a horse whose peak of croup seems pretty high" or "Dr. Deb, is a thin neck ever OK? (Just the other day in private correspondence, I mentioned 'horses with a neck like a rubber drainpipe' to somebody involved in Saddlebreds).

I'm sure you can do this -- sorry to have to delete your initial inquiry. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Sat Jan 12th, 2008 05:42 pm
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Hello Dr. Deb,

 I do appreciate that you run a tight ship.. No problem with deleting the post since it did not conform to the forum's rules. Where I was going with the inquiry was about how these horses move in a way that sorta defies logic. They are fluid, elastic and at times have a feral, graceful way of going.

 I have been dinking around with a couple of photo manipulation programs trying to come up with a suitably realistic line drawing.

Allen

Ailusia
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 Posted: Sat Jan 12th, 2008 08:30 pm
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Here it is - a little help! I have heard that Akhal Tekes are famous for the golden "shine" that they have. For me, they almost don't look like horses. More like greyhounds, or creatures from another planet. I would say that they are very beautiful if they weren't so skinny.


Allen Pogue
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2008 01:19 am
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Hi Folks,

 Ok  lets begin again, what piques my interest in this particular outline of a horse is the unusual look of the neck,  the low set hocks and short front cannon bones and the way the front leg is set back from the point of the shoulder.

 In motion this horse appeared to move in a cat-like fashion. I saw an underweight Lusitano once that looked strikingly like an Akhal-teke with a thick mane and tail (albiet not with such a long neck) and that horse would at times slink along a fence line in a way that was reminescent of a hungry wolf on a cold night with a long way to go.

 I have heard that horses of this breed are sometimes refered to as being "made out of spare parts" .. It is difficult for a person to make an educated evaluation of an Oriental/Eastern breed when we are so used to seeing only western horses (both American and European) . 

Dr. Deb can you explain what it is we are seeing when viewing such a specimen? 

Allen

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Jan 13th, 2008 08:37 am
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Allen, far out. I want to know what Photoshop filters you ran the original image through to get such a wonderful result -- even giving an impression of the famous Akhal-Teke golden coat sheen! Or did you do this not by filtering but by airbrushing by hand! We turn out to have artistic talent just positively coming out of our ears here, it seems.

As to your questions regarding conformation: one by one --

(1) "The unusual look of the neck" -- I would not say it is particularly unusual; where else you can see exactly the same neck is in (a) many Thoroughbreds and (b) American Saddlebreds, which are derived in large part from certain strains of Thoroughbreds, i.e. Denmark and others, via the imported Sir Archy. I would direct your attention to the base of the neck, i.e. where the chain of neck bones reaches its deepest declivity and then begins to turn upward again as it heads into the thorax. This point will be just caudal to the point at which the neck is widest. By "widest" I mean "widest from side to side," which you can teach yourself by standing at the front of a horse with its head over your shoulder, then placing the palms of your hands flat against the sides of its neck. Work your way down gently from the ears toward the shoulders, and follow the line of the jugular groove; from the wing of the atlas on down, the neck bones are located just above the jugular groove, not at the crest. You will find that the widest palpable part of the neck is about a handspan above the shoulder-bed. This point is the junction between cervical vertebrae no. 5 and no. 6. The true base of the neck, which is where it reaches its lowest point, is about two handspans behind this point, and thus it is between the horse's shoulders and therefore neither palpable nor visible. But after following these directions you will be able to see it with your mind's eye.

Now with this in mind, you can compare the AT horse whose image you have so accurately drawn with other horses that you know. And by doing this you will find that the AT has a neck just like other horses of racing type. The owner, by the way, has been very smart about how he took the original photo: standing the animal slightly uphill. This definitely flatters any horse with a plain or thin neck, or a neck that's set on just a bit low, as this horse's is and as the necks of most TB's are. A horse's neck is "set on" at its base, so if the base of the neck is low relative to its withers, then its neck is said to be "set on" low. These matters are thoroughly discussed in my Principles of Conformation books.

Look in the 2006 issues of the "Inner Horseman", or in my "Conquerors" history book, and see that AT's are ancestral to TB's. In 17th through 19th-century Britain, AT's were called "Turks". A "Turk" in their terminology could mean: (1) An actual Akhal-Teke, i.e. a horse of that type from Afghanistan or Turkmenistan; (2) A horse bred by certain of the Turkish khans which partook in part or in large part of Akhal-Teke ancestry; (3) Any horse of Oriental type and west Asian origin shipped from Ankara or Damascus to England. To view quite accurate pictures of 17th and 18th-century imported "Turks", see the Arco reprint of William Cavendish/Duke of Newcastle's "A New System of Horse Training", or see any book by breed historian Alexander Mackay-Smith.

(2) "Low hocks and short front cannon bones" -- Well, so, what do you want. All quality horses are supposed to have this.

(3) "The way the front leg is set back from the point of shoulder" -- One of the points I make in Principles of Conformation is that the most under-appreciated bone of the front leg is the humerus, which spans the distance between the point of shoulder and the elbow. It is the length and angle of the humerus which dictates how far back the front leg will "set" relative to the point of shoulder. It is the resting angle formed between the humerus and scapula, in other words the resting angle of the shoulder joint, which is the most powerful determinant of whether a horse will have dorky or extravagant and expressive forelimb movement. See the appropriate Principles volume for more.

(4) Cat-like movement -- this comes from many things in addition to the skeletal structure. You can find high-quality horses of many breeds that move this way, and whenever you find a walk like a lion and a trot like a wolf, you are looking at the very highest quality muscle physiology and neurophysiology, no matter what breed of horse it may be. The Portuguese horse you saw was probably half-TB; most horses intended for rejoneo are bred this way. Lusitanos are typically half-TB. The cross frequently produces horses that can turn on a dime and that are so flexible through the torso that they can do a 180 in mid-jump -- qualities highly desirable in a bullfighting horse.

(5) Overall "thin and bony" look -- Not extremely much more than is typical of TB's, but quite characteristic of the AT and some other West Asian breeds, i.e. Marwari, Karabair, Lokai. It is what is known as "dry" type. It seems to be genetically linked to endurance ability. This is why the English kings, just before and just after their great Civil War, wanted to cross these animals in to the racing bloodlines they had held since the time of the Tudors -- the older strains were all Hobbies, punchy-bodied little things that were faster than blazes on a quarter-mile track but couldn't hold that speed over a longer course. The English kings were trying to produce a horse that could carry moderate speed and weight over a distance of ground, and they invented the first performance test for horses, the rules being that the animals would race at least four, and usually more like twelve miles, in three heats, on a single day, carrying not less than 160 lbs. weight. Winners of such races were bred, losers were gelded, and that's why the TB is the world's greatest athlete today. The crossbred that succeeded best at these trials, and which after about a century of work by numerous English breeders became the TB, was Oriental on the sire side and Hobby on the dam side. But again, this whole story is told, and told much better, in the 2006 "Inner Horseman" disk.

Hope this answers your questions, Allen. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

Ailusia
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 Posted: Mon Jan 14th, 2008 07:54 pm
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whenever you find a walk like a lion and a trot like a wolf, you are looking at the very highest quality muscle physiology and neurophysiology, no matter what breed of horse it may be
Today I've read Xenophon's Hippica (I think that the English title is "The Art of Horsemanship"?) and he wrote something very similar! It would be hard to translate it because it was written in old Polish (the book was published in 1860) but the meaning was the same.


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