Akhal Teke vs Thoroughbred Horse: In-Depth Comparison Guide

Welcome to our in-depth comparison guide on Akhal Teke vs Thoroughbred Horse! If you’re a horse enthusiast or simply looking to invest in a new equine companion, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll be exploring the unique characteristics and differences between these two popular breeds, helping you make an informed decision on which one is right for you. So, let’s saddle up and dive into the world of Akhal Teke vs Thoroughbred Horse!

History of Breeds

Bay akhal teke breed horse standing in the bright summer day

Origins of Akhal Teke

The Akhal Teke is a Turkmen horse breed known for its speed, endurance, intelligence, and distinctive metallic sheen. It is believed to be one of the oldest existing horse breeds, with its origins dating back more than 3,000 years.

These horses were first bred by the Teke Turkmen tribe in what is now present-day Turkmenistan, where they were highly valued for their endurance and ability to survive in the harsh desert climate. Evidence suggests that the breed also played a significant role in historical events, with paintings and artifacts mentioning similar-looking horses dating back to the end of the third and the beginning of the second millennia BCE.

The ancestors of the Akhal Teke were known as the Nisean horse, which were bred by the Massaget and Parthians, who inhabited the region that is now modern-day Iran, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding territories.

Origins of Thoroughbred

The Thoroughbred is a different horse breed, best known for its use in horse racing. Its origins can be traced back to 17th and 18th century England, when native British horse breeds were crossed with imported Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman horses.

These imported breeds helped create the foundation of the modern Thoroughbred through selective breeding, resulting in a horse that is known for its speed, agility, stamina, and competitive spirit. Interestingly, the older Akhal Teke breed is believed to have contributed to the development of the Turkoman, one of the ancestors of the Thoroughbred.

Both the Akhal Teke and the Thoroughbred have played significant roles throughout history, but they are notably different breeds in terms of their physical characteristics, abilities, and historical contexts. The Akhal Teke, also known as the “Golden Horse,” is often associated with endurance and survival, whereas the Thoroughbred is synonymous with speed and horse racing.

Physical Characteristics and Temperament

Two black akhal teke breed horses running in an open field

Appearance and Markings

The Akhal-Teke and Thoroughbred horses have distinct appearances. The Akhal-Teke is best known for its metallic sheen which can resemble gold, silver, or bronze, depending on the coat color. It is often called the “Yellow Turk,” and its colors range from light creams to deep blacks; palomino, buckskin, and bay shades are especially popular. The Thoroughbred, on the other hand, typically comes in solid and common colors like chestnut, bay, black, and gray.

Akhal-Tekes have thin skin allowing their coat to give off an intense shine, while Thoroughbreds have thicker skin. Thoroughbreds may have white markings on their faces and legs, while Akhal-Tekes are generally solid colored, with few markings.

Gaits and Movement

The Akhal-Teke breed is known for its smooth gaits and efficient movement, originating from its ancient heritage in desert environments. Their long legs and lean bodies enable them to cover long distances effortlessly. In contrast, Thoroughbreds have a more powerful stride, mainly bred for speed in racing. Their strong, compact bodies, and well-sprung ribs allow them to excel on the racetrack.

Height and Body Type

Both breeds typically stand between 14 and 16 hands high, but their body types are quite different. The Akhal-Teke has a slim, elegant build, often compared to that of a Greyhound. Their fine bone structure and narrow chests make them appear lighter than they are. Thoroughbreds are usually more muscular and sturdier, with a deep chest and a well-defined, powerful hindquarters.

Weight-wise, Akhal-Tekes typically range between 900 and 1000 lbs, while Thoroughbreds may weigh between 1000 and 1200 lbs.

Temperament and Personality

The Akhal-Teke and the Thoroughbred horses differ in temperament as well. Akhal-Tekes are known for their intelligence, loyalty, and sensitivity. They are closely bonded with their human handlers and have been recognized for their personable nature throughout history. They can be alert and reactive, which may make them challenging for inexperienced riders.

Thoroughbreds, on the other hand, are spirited and competitive with a strong drive to perform well. They are also intelligent, but might be more high-strung and less predictable than the Akhal-Teke. Thoroughbreds may require a more experienced handler who can properly manage and channel their energy.

To summarize, both the Akhal-Teke and Thoroughbred horses are revered for their unique physical characteristics and temperaments. Although they share similarities in height and versatility, they have distinctive features that make each breed special in its own right.

Athletic Abilities and Disciplines

Thoroughbred young horses looking over wooden barn stable

Speed and Endurance

When comparing the Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses, there are distinct differences in their athletic abilities, particularly in speed and endurance. The Akhal Teke is an ancient breed originating from the Karakum desert of Turkmenistan, known for its hardiness and ability to tolerate sparse water and food, as well as extremes of heat and cold. While Thoroughbred horses are known for their exceptional speed, Akhal Tekes are also among the fastest horse breeds in the world and have impressive endurance skills.

Racing Performance

In terms of racing performance, Thoroughbred horses are often the top choice for racing enthusiasts, as they are bred specifically for speed and are famous for their incredible performance on the racetrack. Although the Akhal Teke may not be as popular in racing as the Thoroughbred, this breed still has a history in long-distance racing and excels in their ability to adapt to various terrains and natural obstacles.


Dressage is a highly demanding equestrian discipline that requires precise movement, exceptional balance, and poise. While Thoroughbreds have proven themselves in dressage competitions, the Akhal Teke also displays a strong aptitude for this discipline, with its remarkably flexible and elastic movements, making them a suitable breed for dressage riders who value elegance and grace.

Show Jumping

Show jumping is another equestrian discipline where the Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses differ. Generally, Thoroughbreds excel in show jumping due to their powerful hindquarters and natural athleticism. However, the Akhal Teke’s unique and peculiar trot, combined with their lean muscular build, allows them to be a noteworthy contender in show jumping events as well.


Eventing is a combination of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping disciplines, which demands a versatile and well-rounded horse. Both Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses have proven to be capable in eventing. The Akhal Teke’s ability to adapt to various terrains and its athleticism, paired with the Thoroughbred’s speed and natural jumping ability, make both breeds suitable choices for eventing competitions.

Polo and Other Western Events

Polo requires horses to be agile, quick, and responsive, and both Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses can excel in this discipline. While Thoroughbreds are often used in polo matches due to their speed and athleticism, the lesser-known Akhal Teke has shown great potential as well, thanks to their agility and responsiveness. In other Western events, such as roping and cutting, the Akhal Teke’s endurance and adaptability make them a solid choice, while the Thoroughbred’s speed and maneuverability offer an advantage in barrel racing and other speed-oriented events.

In conclusion, both Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses have unique attributes that contribute to their respective performances in various equestrian disciplines. Choosing between these two breeds ultimately depends on individual rider goals and the specific requirements of the chosen sport.

Genetics and Breeding

A magestic black thoroughbred horse playing on the field

Bloodlines and Crossbreeding

The Akhal-Teke and Thoroughbred horses have unique genetics that contribute to their distinct characteristics. The Akhal-Teke, an ancient breed dating back more than 3,000 years, is known for its endurance and personable nature, often sporting a metallic coat and almond-shaped eyes. The Thoroughbred horse, on the other hand, is a newer breed with genetics engineered for speed and athleticism.

Crossbreeding between these two horse breeds has resulted in enhanced qualities. For example, Warmbloods are a group of middle-weight horse breeds that carry blood from both the Akhal-Teke and the Thoroughbred, making them versatile and well-suited for a range of equestrian disciplines. The elegant physique and endurance of the Akhal-Teke is combined with the athleticism and speed of the Thoroughbred in this crossbred horse.

Influence on Other Horse Breeds

The Akhal-Teke and Thoroughbred horses have had a significant influence on other horse breeds. One of the most notable examples is the Arabian horse, which shares a close genetic relationship with the Akhal-Teke.

The Thoroughbred, in particular, has a strong connection to the Byerly Turk, one of the three founding sires of the breed. Research shows that the Turkoman horse, an extinct breed believed to be related to the Akhal-Teke, played a crucial role in the development of the Thoroughbred through the sharing of its genes.

Endurance riding, a popular equestrian sport, has been influenced by the Akhal-Teke’s excellent endurance capabilities. Additionally, the American Quarter Horse, a breed known for its sprinting ability, has been positively impacted by the Thoroughbred’s speed and athleticism.

In summary, the genetics and breeding of the Akhal-Teke and Thoroughbred horses have significantly impacted several horse breeds and equestrian disciplines. Through crossbreeding and sharing their unique traits, these two breeds have contributed to the development of a diverse range of athletic, versatile, and endurance-focused horses.

Care and Management

Beautiful brown thoroughbred horse galloping across the field on a sunny day

Diet and Nutrition

The Akhal Teke and the Thoroughbred are both athletic horse breeds with different dietary requirements. To maintain their energy levels and well-being, both breeds need a balanced diet rich in nutrients. Akhal Tekes have adapted to scarce resources in their native environment and can survive on less food than the Thoroughbred, which typically requires a more substantial amount of calories, especially when in training. A balanced diet should include high-quality hay, grains, and access to fresh water and mineral supplements to ensure optimum health.

Grooming and Health Care

Grooming is essential for both Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses to maintain their skin and coat health. Since Akhal Tekes are known for their distinctive metallic sheen, regular grooming can help preserve their unique coat appearance. Thoroughbreds have a reputation for being more spacious horses, but they also benefit from regular grooming.

Health care is crucial for both breeds as well, as regular vet check-ups, vaccinations, and deworming are necessary to keep them healthy. Proper hoof care is vital for their athletic performance and overall well-being, so working with a knowledgeable farrier is essential.

Climate and Living Conditions

Different climates and living conditions can affect the health and well-being of both Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses. Native to harsh desert environments, Akhal Tekes are known for their adaptability in various climates and resilience to scarce resources. Thoroughbreds, however, prefer mild climates and require ample space to exercise and roam freely.

Equestrians should understand the sensitivities and unique adaptations of these breeds to provide the correct living conditions to suit their needs. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are crucial to the happiness and well-being of both horse breeds, as they are both athletic and intelligent. Adequate shelter and space to roam around should be provided to ensure a healthy environment for these horses.

When caring for Akhal-Teke and Thoroughbred horses, it is essential to consider their dietary, grooming, and climate needs to ensure their overall health and happiness. With a thorough understanding of each breed’s requirements and a commitment to proper care, equestrians can create a thriving equine experience for these magnificent horses.

Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred in Culture

Two Akhal Teke horses standing side by side in an open summer field

Influence on Historical Figures

The Akhal Teke has a rich history, dating back over 3,000 years. Originating from Central Asian regions like the Karakum Desert, this breed has influenced numerous historical figures. Chinese emperors, Alexander the Great, and Marco Polo were all drawn to the Akhal Teke’s unique metallic coat, markings, and spirited temperament. Alexander the Great’s famous horse, Bucephalus, was said to have Akhal Teke bloodlines. The breed’s exceptional versatility and agility enabled them to excel in various aspects of culture, such as polo and military affairs.

The Thoroughbred, originating in North America, also has influenced various historical figures due to their speed, stamina, and athleticism. Primarily known for their involvement in horse racing, these horses have become synonymous with prestigious events and are often revered for their performance abilities on the track.

National and Heritage Breeds

The Akhal Teke holds the title of national horse for Turkmenistan, earning the nickname “Heavenly Argamak” among the nomadic peoples. Deeply ingrained in Turkmen culture, the Akhal Teke has come to symbolize the nation’s unity and spirit. Russian emperors and the Russian Empire have also embraced this breed throughout history, either for personal enjoyment or military use.

In comparison, the Thoroughbred, while not an official national horse, is deeply connected to North American and British cultures. Its racing legacy and presence in equestrian sports have made it an indispensable part of these societies.

The Horse Racing Industry

The horse racing industry prominently features both Akhal Tekes and Thoroughbreds, albeit with slightly different focuses. Thoroughbreds have long dominated horse racing, from prestigious events like the Kentucky Derby in the United States to races across Europe. With their incredible speed and endurance, these horses have become the standard for racing success.

Akhal Tekes, on the other hand, are more renowned for their endurance capabilities, participating in long-distance races and excelling in harsh climates. They famously performed in the Ashkhabad to Moscow endurance race under Stalin’s rule, securing their recognition and admiration within the horse racing community.

While both breeds boast impressive racing records and have historically played a significant role in equestrian sports, their unique traits and temperaments set them apart:

Attribute Akhal Teke Thoroughbred
Origin Central Asia (Karakum Desert) North America
Coat Metallic Various colors
Markings Distinctive Often minimal
Gait Smooth, fluid Fast, powerful
Temperament Spirited, intelligent High-strung, energetic
Versatility Polo, endurance, military, racing Horse racing
Historical Use Chinese emperors, nomadic tribes Horse racing, equestrian sports

This comparative analysis highlights the diverse cultural significance of both breeds and their impact on equestrian endeavors throughout history.

Akhal Teke vs Thoroughbred Horse

Perlino Akhal Teke stallion running over a patch of dry grass

The Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses are both renowned breeds with distinct characteristics that set them apart in the equine world. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two breeds while providing all the relevant information about them.

Origin and History

The Akhal Teke is an ancient breed originating from Turkmenistan, with a history that dates back thousands of years. These horses have a reputation for their speed, endurance, intelligence, and a distinctive metallic sheen that has earned them the nickname “Golden Horses.” They are well-adapted to severe climatic conditions and are thought to be one of the oldest existing horse breeds.

On the other hand, the Thoroughbred is a horse breed primarily known for racing. Originating in England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Thoroughbreds are a result of crossing native English mares with imported Arabian, Barb, and Turkoman stallions. They are considered to be some of the fastest horses globally, dominating flat racing and steeplechase events.

Physical Characteristics

Akhal Tekes are medium-sized horses with a slim, athletic build. They have long, straight legs, a deep chest, a narrow waist, and an elongated neck. Their eyes are typically almond-shaped, and their coats are famous for their metallic sheen, which can come in any color. The average height of an Akhal Teke is around 14.2 to 16 hands (58 to 64 inches) tall.

Thoroughbreds are taller and more substantial, with a height of around 15.2 to 17 hands (62 to 68 inches). They have a refined head, a long neck, strong shoulders, a deep chest, and a short, strong back. Their legs are also long and straight but are more robust, capable of carrying and generating significant speed. Thoroughbreds can be any color, though bay, dark bay, or brown are the most common.

Abilities and Performance

Akhal Tekes are known for their incredible endurance and versatility. They excel in various equestrian disciplines, including dressage, endurance racing, show jumping, and eventing. Their agility and stamina make them excellent long-distance runners and reliable mounts in harsh environments. Due to their ancestry and adaptations to extreme conditions, they are also known for their intelligence and hardiness.

Thoroughbreds are bred for speed and are revered as the fastest horse breed over long distances. They dominate track racing and have a natural aptitude for galloping at high speeds. While their primary talent lies in racing, they are also used in other equestrian activities such as dressage, show jumping, and eventing. Their strong, athletic build and highly competitive nature make them exceptional athletes.


In conclusion, both Akhal Teke and Thoroughbred horses possess unique traits that make them remarkable breeds. The Akhal Teke is an ancient, versatile breed known for its stunning metallic sheen, intelligence, and endurance while the Thoroughbred is renowned for its speed, power, and aptitude for racing. Both breeds have proven themselves in various equestrian disciplines, each showcasing their distinct abilities. It is essential to consider the specific requirements and preferences of the rider when deciding which breed best suits their needs in the world of horse sports.