“As a Spanish Champion, I have been delighted by the riding performance, learning skills and stamina of the Akhal-Teke horses. In my opinion, if given a chance, they have a bright future in the European Eventing World.”
Daniela Vidaurre Puente, Spanish International Three Day Event Rider
Three Day Eventing is one of the most comprehensive equestrian sport discipline. It can be described as an “equestrian triathlon” as it combines three different disciplines (phases) in one competition: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. It is a comprehensive test of all-around horsemanship of the rider and ability of the horse. Riders and horses are judged on communication, skill level, speed and endurance, hence, the training level of equine conditioning must be at its highest.
The characteristic of the exemplary Akhal-Teke horse coincide with those of an ideal eventing participant. To be successful in the Three Day Eventing, the horses need both: heart and head. They are to be brave and strong, but at the same time fully trust their rider. It is especially important for an event horse to be responsive as a horse that will not listen to a rider on the cross-country phase may end up taking a fall at a jump. At the same time, it should also be calm and submissive for the dressage phase, with good training on the flat.
Akhal-Tekes can be excitable and challenging, however, their willingness to work hard and their loyalty is truly exceptional. They tend to be one-person horses and perform best for someone who offers them regular strenuous exercise, attention, and variety. They also seen to have a strong inner enthusiasm to perform well and satisfy their rider.
For cross-country, the horse must be fearless, agile, and, especially at the higher levels, fast with a good galloping stride and great endurance. It does not necessarily need to possess perfect jumping form, but should be safe over fences and have good scope. It is also said that the best event horses are careful over jumps, as those who are not tend to have stadium rails knocked down on the last day.
Akhal-Tekes are naturally sure-footed, agile and strong-nerved. They are known for their extreme stamina while running long distances under difficult conditions. One of the worth-mentioning events confirming their exceptional endurance is the Ashgabat – Moscow run, where in 1935 a small group of Turkmens rode their Akhal Teke horses 4,300 km, from Ashgabat to Moscow, in 84 days, in order to petition Stalin to save the breed. All horses successfully overcame the difficulties of the trek, the major part of which run through the unforgiving terrains of Karakum and other deserts. Akhal-Tekes really are among the toughest, most resilient horses in the world. Because of their background of being selectively bred in the severe, desert environment for thousands of years, they developed a one-of-a-kind characteristics, perfect for modern-day eventing.
Despite their eventing-tailored natural characteristics, an Akhal-Teke representative has never been qualified to take part in the Eventing World Championships. Shall this happened, it would surely change the European idea of the Akhal-Teke breed as well as the whole eventing breed distribution which nowadays is described as rather homogenic, dominated by Thoroughbreds, part-Thoroughbreds, Irish Draught and Clydesdale crossbreds. Many would most certainly be surprised to learn that except for its unique exterior, Akhal-Teke can be a worthy opponent: strong, reliable and, without doubt, capable of achieving great results.
We hope to see more Akhal-Tekes taking part in eventing Championships on both European and World levels. For all Akhal-Teke riders willing to bring their hoses to the international publicity in the Evening World: Good Luck! E.A.A.T. will always support your efforts.