Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Another Golden Opportunity

Someone stop me.... I'm on a blog posting hyper-mode today....

Speaking of color, there's another gem that's been rattling around in my head since I first got Tommy.  I've had a 'slight' aspiration to show at a national level someday.  (The 'slight' is being highly emphasised here...) It will most likely never come to fruition - and for at least two reasons.  First, there are no Akhal Teke Nationals. And secondly, you'd have to do some major elbowing to make them fit into the main showrings with everybody elses breed.  Thirdly, there is not enough white on most purebred Akhal Tekes to justify double registering them - hence little open shows are probably as good as it's gonna get.  If you're into sports like eventing, jumping, dressage, ect. you can ride a grade draft horse if it has enough talent to do it.  But in the registry and association shows, it's a whole different ball game.  The rules are much more rigid, and most Tekes just don't fit into the nook very well.

The Turkmens have a strong belief that if there is too much white markings on a horse, it will be undesirable.  They believe that too much white resembles a cow, and not a horse.  That's okay in Turkmenistan,  but in america - we love color.  It's everywhere.  You can probably step out your front door and fling a rock at your neighbors pasture ornament and hit a spot or two on it.  What else is there to say.... we're really color crazy in this country!

So, it brings me to the golden opportunity part, another potential promotional foot through the door for Teke breeders.  Imagine an Akhal Teke that had enough white to be double registered in the Pinto Horse Association.  It is do-able, with just a little work.  The sabino gene is very much present in the Akhal Teke breed.  It crops up quite often in leg and facial markings, along with the occasional blue eye now and again.  The gene just needs a little bit of "cultivation" from breeders.  Below are a few photos below illustrating the sabino traits in the Akhal Teke:
 A mare from the re-purposed Akhalt-Service Farm, Russia
 Northern Wood Farm Stallion, Russia

Gora - here in the U.S.

So, the genes are there.  Why not use it to an advantage?  Imagine these lovely light breed horses below as Akhal Tekes with color:

(Alas, I realize that the last two photos are of tobianos, but you can use your imagination and magically turn them into sabinos....)  Wouldn't it be great to see an Akhal Teke win a national title in the show ring?

Breeders, any input into this looney-brained idea that I have here...?


For the thread below.....  more things to think about... 

One of the other main reasons that I was drawn to the possibility of dun factor in the Akhal Teke breed is due to location and style of riding.  We live in the west, where cowboys get the thumbs up and everything else recieves two blinks of an eye in the showring.  Akhal Tekes aren't as widely accepted for western styles of riding as they are for the english events.  In fact, I've even seen sales ads here in america stating that these horses aren't western - they're strictly an english breed - (uh, pardon me....?)  But that's another story altogether.

If the dun gene turns out to be present, the western world will most likely sit up and take a little bit more notice.  Cowboys love duns, show people love duns, color breeders love duns, mounted shooters love duns, trail riders love duns, ect.  There's something about the stripes that folks love - artists included!  Buckskins and palominos come close, but no cigar.  Why not have an exotic looking dun that is both comfortable to ride for long distances and stays sound for arena use?  The selling points could be potentially numerous. 

Can you imagine the metallic buckskin Teke above with some primitive black cobwebbing and leg barring?  (Yes, I need to turn myself in to "color-blind horse fanatics anonymous" - I have a problem, I know it and freely admit it....) 

To put it in perspective, the horse pictured above is a product of a Canadian breeder.  Before anybody gets too excited about his color, he's not a purebred - he's a Teke x QH cross.  But you can imagine if a purebred exhibited a similar coloring with a western style of riding.  There could be even more marketing doors opening up for Teke breeders.  It's something to think about. 

I also have theories about gaited turanian horses (mostly Akhal Tekes) in Iran.  There's some potential for opening marketing doors there too.... but, that's another story for another time.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beautiful Chakman

                                                  Photo courtesy of Vera Grishutina
This first time that I seen photos of the Akhal Teke mare Chakman, I almost fell out of my chair.  I think that I screamed "AHAAAAA!" and threw a book across the room.  Dare I say, is she....?  A DUN!?  Hot damned.  I felt like I hit the lottery.  What a stunning creature, and the closest example of a dun colored purebred Akhal Teke that I've ever seen.  A "seemingly" dun colored horse isn't too big of a deal for most people in the world, but for a real weirdo like me - it's a total goldmine.  It's been 2 years since I stumbled onto her beautiful photos, and I'm still madly in love with her goofy yellow hide.

The dun topic in Tekes has been hashed, re-hashed, quibbled, debated, poked and prodded, for what seems like forever on the group lists.  It just came up (yet again), a little while ago and I e-mailed the pictures of Chakman to an inquiring mind who wanted to know.  For the past 10 years (yikes, it's been that long...) I've been digging and searching for "good" solid/true example of dun factor in the Akhal Teke breed - and believe me, they're harder than hens teeth to find.  The topic of dun in Tekes generally comes up every few years, and the questions and answers are always the same.  Does dun exist in the breed?  Nobody can answer for sure - yet.  Since there are not any truly great examples of similarly colored Akhal Tekes in the U.S. like this mare is, it still remains a question that gets kicked around now and again.  Being both an artist and Akhal Teke afficianado, it has always been an interesting search for me.  I seriously wished that Chakman had been imported into the U.S. when she was for sale -  (she was advertised as being a kid broke horse, which is enough of a selling point in itself....)  And if she would've came here, with the new genetic testing for dun factor horses at the universities -  the mare would've been a definite shoe-in candidate for the Akhal Teke breed.

But alas, Chakman is in Moscow - so like a never-ending novel, the dun mystery continues.... 

Most breeders and owners of Akhal Tekes in the U.S. have horses with dorsal stripes on just about every body color, (bay, chestnut, palomino, buckskin, black).  Most of my horses have it, and there's not a single dun gene in their entire family histories.  Dorsals are a pretty common trait in Tekes, but it does not make them a dun.  A very good example of an arabian with a dorsal stripe and "sooty" leg marks can be found on this site:
So it stands to reason that just because you have an Akhal Teke with a dorsal stripe and some faint leg barring, it's most likely just a case of sootiness at work....

But Chakman, oh.... that lovely beauty.  She has more than half of the characteristics that would classify her as being a dun.  (See this site for more details: If she was a quarter horse, there would be no question about it - she would be a dun.  She has a nice big fat black dorsal stripe, good pronounced leg barring, dark shaded points on her muzzle, legs, ears, and shoulders, and a faint hint of light guard hairs in her mane - and an abundance of light guard hairs in her tail.  She's close, ohhhhhhhh so close.....  I could almost say it....

But then again, it could be argued that she's just a buckskin with some weird stripes due to sooty characteristics and the cream gene.  Maybe her light mane hairs are the effects of cream genetics somewhere in her background, as some buckskins exhibit light "silver" types of streaks in their mane and tail.  Her pedigree was up on the sale site once, but it didn't have her parents colors printed.  It would've been interesting to see what genes and colors are present in her family tree.  Also, most duns have a darker head with dark points down the bridge of their nose extending into the muzzle.  Chakman seems to have mostly a clear yellow colored face that matches the rest of her body, and is missing a lot of the nasal bridge dark markings that are characteristic of duns.  (The author of a newly printed horse color genetics book seems to think that the mare might be a dun that has the cream gene as well - hence the cream genetics have washed her facial darker points out, so they are not visible.)  She also exhibits dappling in her winter coat, which is rare for dun horses - but not impossible.  A lot of horses can have "sheen dappling" when they are in good health and condition.  (She's pretty fat and happy in the picture.)  And lastly, what about those leg bars?  Maybe just like "Cooper" the arabian, they might be an effect of sootiness at work.  Maybe....who knows?

But I'm still clinging desperately to a shard of hope that she "might/maybe" be a dun.  The odds are stacked fairly evenly to argue the case both ways.  If she was a quarter horse, the automatic reaction that everyone would say is, "she's a dun".  End of story.  But, we're talking about a rare breed of horse that is un-tested yet and has a lot of creams and funky shades of buckskin, so the mystery continues.  The artist side of me wants to believe that she's a dun oh so badly.... 

(And as a side note while I'm still thinking about it:  Interestingly, the only photo that I've ever seen of a so-called "grulla" in the Akhal Teke breed was a yearling that looked like it was going through the greying process.  It wasn't a good photo, and definitely not a true/solid enough example for the dun gene as being present in the breed.  This gives rise to the question: that if there is indeed a dun gene present - why aren't we seeing any grullas produced when dun carriers are bred to darker purebred horses?  They're just not happening for one reason or another.)

So I will eek back into my studio clinging to those photos and a tiny shard of hope that Chakman might still indeed be a dun - or maybe not.  In the future there will be a Teke model creeping down the pike from my nook of the world with all the right characteristics - but as to if it's a dun or just a weird can be the judge of that.  =:)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wee Ones

A couple of stablemate sized Breyer foals that I recently finished in the studio.  The scratching primitive bay foal on the left is a Prezwalski filly owned by Cheryl Gearhart of Idaho. 

The smokey cream Akhal Teke colt on the right is part of my private collection.  I named him "Shetdaly", which means "peach" in Turkmen.  (Terri Fender had a real colt named "Sunsational" a few years ago that I thought was a really awesome and unusual color, so I painted a mini that's somewhat similar.  I might attempt to do a larger version of this color in the future if I can find the right mold.  Maybe....)

Both minis are shown next to a quarter for size comparison.