The Turkoman Horse is one of many oriental horse breeds; a rare or now extinct breed that hails from Iran.
Learning about horse breeds and their influence is key to understanding how modern horses develop and where they come from.
Here, I am going to talk about the history of the Turkoman horse, its breed characteristics, and its lineage.
History of the Turkoman Horse
The Turkoman horse is an Oriental horse first discovered in Central Asia in the mountainous regions of the Kurakum Desert, or Turkoman Desert. According to the Caspian horse society, their earliest ancestor is the Caspian horse. (2)
It is believed that the Mongols and the Turks of the Golden Khanate used the Turkoman as a war horse. This horse breed was renowned for its speed and stamina, and it was used in many battles and horse racing.
The most notable battles that the Turkoman horse fought in were The Charge of the Light Brigade and the Russian-Turkish Caucasus War.
Breeders would use a traditional method to catch 6-month-old Turkoman colts and fillies and have them broken and saddle trained once they were 8 months old.
The Turkoman horse was bred to be a racehorse in Central Asia and was fed a diet of barley, chicken or mutton fat, raisins, and alfalfa.
Lovers of the Arabian horse breeds or those with Arabian bloodlines thought that Turkomans were Arabian horses too.
Because Turkomans were mistaken for Arabian horses in the 18th and 19th centuries, people had the wrong impression of the breed. It was thought that they were just bred with Thoroughbreds.
Turkoman horses are the sires of the first Thoroughbred line, and the genetics of the Turkoman also continue in the Akhal Teke.
When Did the Turkoman Horse Go Extinct?
When did the Turkoman horse go extinct? It is thought that in the early 18th century or 19th century the Turkoman went extinct because they were not used for horse breeding, and the population declined.
However, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time this happened.
They were not used in horse breeding because they were thought to be a joke compared to the more elegant Western horses of the time.
Also, it is believed that small herds of the Turkoman exist that are maintained by breeders in Iran. (1)
However, the Turkoman horse legacy lives on through its descendants.
Physical Characteristics of Turkoman Horse
Every type of horse breed has physical characteristics, and the Turkoman is no exception.
The Turkoman horse has a slender body and a lot of endurance and stamina. The head was small and well-proportioned, with a straight body and a tucked up belly.
Their shoulders were large and sloping to match a broad chest accompanied by a long back and equally sloping shoulders. They also had long, muscular legs and hooves that were small but strong.
Their broad joints supported their legs well, allowing them to move proudly. They were always willing to work and get the job done.
The Turkoman horse, like most hot-blooded horses, was high-spirited, brave, and bold. It took confident and lightweight riders to be able to handle their energy.
They stood anywhere from 15-16 hh, making them just the right balance between a tall horse and a short horse.
To learn about different breeds, check out our list of horse breeds.
The Turkoman can have any number of markings on their legs and face. Stars, stripes, snips, strips, blazes, socks, and stockings for the legs are all fair game.
The Turkoman came in bay, black, grey, chestnut, and other solid coat colors. However, all their coats had a metallic sheen, like the Akhal Teke horse today.
Here is a video that explains more about the Turkoman horse from Louise Firouz at her Ghara Tepe Stud in Iran.
What is the Average Lifespan of the Turkoman Horse?
The Turkoman horse can live for 25-30 years, the same as any other horse breed. Their lifespan can be increased with proper care and maintenance.
How Much Does a Turkoman Horse Cost?
Turkoman horses were expensive because they were the mount of choice for royalty, and kings and queens often received them as gifts.
They are extinct so their price cannot be precisely known. Akhal Tekes, a descendant of the Turkoman, costs more than $35,000. It is a fair assumption that Turkoman horse price was an equivalent large amount at the time.
Thoroughbred horses, another Turkoman descendant, are also known for being expensive, but Thoroughbred horse cost varies depending on where you get them.
An off the track Thoroughbred with little to no race training costs $500 or less, while a champion Thoroughbred can cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
READ MORE: Rarest Horse Coats
What Are the Modern Descendants of the Turkoman Horse?
The bloodlines and characteristics of the Turkoman horse remain in several breeds today. They are the following:
The Akhal-Teke breed originates in Turkmenistan. They are also known for their speed, endurance, and metallic coat as the Turkoman was. It is one of the most ancient breeds.
The Akhal Teke is one of the most ancient horse breeds. They range from 14.2 to 16 hands and weigh between 900-1000 pounds.
They are strong but slender and refined horses. They have a straight profile with long ears and almond shaped eyes. Their neck is upright, and their shoulders are sloping.
They have a long and muscular back accompanied by a long and flat croup. Besides the shiny coat, the other defining feature of the Akhal Teke is the lack of mane and tail hair.
Akhal Teke horses come in buckskin, palomino, black, bay, chestnut, grey, and can have white markings.
These horses are easy to keep because they were designed to survive the harsh conditions of the desert. They perform well in racing, endurance, show jumping, dressage, and eventing.
Here is a video that shares more about the Akhal Teke horse
The Thoroughbred is a favorite in the horse racing industry and is known for its grace, strength, and love of running.
Thoroughbreds are hotblooded with great speed and agility. They originated from England, are popular in North America, and Thoroughbred mares were crossed with Turkomans in the 17th century.
They are typically crossed with different breeds of Warmblood horses because of their ability to perform and played a role in Quarter Horse and American Standardbred horse breeding.
Thoroughbreds are tall and elegant horses. They range in height between 15.2 and 17 hands and weigh 1000 pounds on average. They have to be fit as racing horses.
The breed has a chiseled and toned head structure, a long elegant neck, and a short and thin body.
They have a smooth, shiny coat and long, thin, but strong legs. The breed commonly comes in solid colors like black, bay, chestnut, and grey.
Thoroughbreds that are white or palomino are rare. They can have any number of white markings on their head or legs. Thoroughbreds have a talent for show jumping and eventing in addition to being racing horses,
Here is a video that shares more about the Thoroughbred.
Is the Turkoman better than the Arabian?
No horse is better than the other. They are both hotblooded horses with great speed and stamina. It depends on individual preference.
Can you catch a Turkoman in the wild?
No, Turkomans are extinct or possibly bred in Iran’s exclusive small herds.
The Turkoman horse is an extinct breed that greatly influenced several breeds of horses we know today. They were the horse of royalty and famed for their shiny coats, speed, endurance, stamina, and racing ability.
What do you think of Turkoman horses? Please share below!
- 1. The Original Ancestors of the Turkoman, Caspian Horses [Internet]. Caspian Conservation Society. 1998. Available from: https://caspianhorse.org/the-original-ancestors-of-the-turkoman-caspian-horses/
- 2. Ghezelsoflou H, Hamidi P, Gharahveysi S. Study of factors affecting the body conformation traits of Iranian Turkoman horses. Journal of Equine Science [Internet]. 2018;29:91–6. Available from: https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jes/29/4/29_1738/_article
Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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