The “Turkoman horse”, or Turkmene, was an Oriental horse breed from the steppes of Central Asia, now extinct. They influenced many other horse breeds, including the Thoroughbred horse. Some horses bred in Iran and Turkmenistan today are still referred to as Turkoman, and have similar characteristics.
Modern descendants include the Akhal-Teke, the Iomud , the Goklan and Nokhorli.
The Turkoman horse was noted for its endurance. It had a slender body, similar to a greyhound. Although refined in appearance, the breed was actually one of the toughest in the world. They had a straight profile, long neck, and sloping shoulders. Their back was long, with sloping quarters and tucked-up abdomen. They had long and muscular legs. The horses ranged from 15–16 hands.
The coat of a Turkomen horse could have been of any color, and usually possessed a metallic glow. This was due to a change in the structure of the individual hair. Many theories have been formulated to explain why hair of the Turkomen and its descendants shines, but none explain why the Turkoman horses in particular benefitted from this genetic difference and why other horses would not.
Though both the Arabian horse and the Turkoman may have had a common ancestor in the oriental horse prototype, in their purest old forms they were very like one another in some ways and very different in others. Both had excellent speed and stamina. Both had extremely fine coats and delicate skin, unlike many horse breeds found in Europe. They both had large eyes, wide foreheads and tapering muzzles. They both came from very arid environments. Here, however, the similarities between the Turkoman of Central Asia and the Arabians of the Nejd desert lands of Central Arabia end, and the horses begin to diverge to suit their environments and the fighting styles of their breeders. Some divergence may be attributable solely to natural selection of landrace traits, other differences may be attributable to selective breeding.
The Turkoman had small hooves. This was an adaptation to the steppes of the Central Asia, which largely consisted of a hard, rocky ground, covered with coarse sand, more like fine gravel and of stiff, parched vegetation. The Arabian had fairly large hooves for its size. In the Central Arabian desert there is deep sand as well as hard terrain. A larger hoof is needed here to cope with this type of terrain.
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