Saturday, 31 March 2018

The Turkish Horse

Summary: 'Recently a genetic study was published confirming that a lot of horse breeds around the world have Turkish horse DNA, especially the English Thoroughbred'

Dear friends, an old Polish saying goes like this:

Horse Turkish, 
servant Mazurish;            
Hat Magyarian, 
saber Hungarian.   

The English Thoroughbred (ETB) is the worlds fastest horse and maybe the most known. It is the horse breed that you see in the horse races and it is widespread throughout the world in horse riding clubs, polo/Polocrosse clubs, etc. It is maybe the first horse that comes to your mind if you think about horses. It is among the most valued as well with top foals sold at prices over 1 million USD.

English Thoroughbred horse (ETB)

There is a lot of discussion about the provenance though. It all starts with my ancestors, the Ottoman Turkish army loosing the battle of Buda (Hungary) in 1686. In this battle, European forces capture a Turkish Warhorse and bring it back to England, calling it the 'Byerley Turk' named after Lord Byerley who was in the possession of the horse. Recognising the qualities of the horse, they started a breeding program. Together with a second (Darley Arabian) and third (Godolphin Arabian) foundation Sire, these 3 horses were the basis for the English Thoroughbred. (It is to note that European horses were no match in battle against Turkish horses in terms of speed and stamina (see: The European destrier horse))

So far so good, the discussion is around which breed's genes were dominant as they are different breeds involved. It was widely accepted that the main ancestor of the ETB is the Arabian horse (also due to a strong Arabian horse lobby). 

You could say that there are some points against this view:
1. The original Arabian horse looks very different from the ETB. It is smaller (14-15 hands vs 16hands)
2. Dished face of Arabians in many lines vs the straight long face of the ETB
3. A different confirmation and muscle/body shape
4. The speed - The ETB is much faster than the Arabian horse.
4. Even the mentality of the horse differs, Arabs being more spooky and difficult to handle by nature
5. The speed and endurance were unseen in Europe before, so they bought further Turkish horses and used them in the breeding of the ETB:
  • Darcy White Turk
  • Edward Hale's bayTurk
  • Belgrade Turk mare
  • Helmsley Turk
  • Darcy Yellow Turk
  • Place's white Turk
  • Akaster Turk
  • Carlisle Turk

Unfortunately, today, the old Turkish breed is extinct in Turkey, but the closest relative lives on in Iran and Turkmenistan, the Akhal Teke. Just looking at the horse you will see that it resembles the ETB much more than the Arabian horse. These horses have top speeds similar to the ETB and are also amazing in long distance riding. This breed is a true war horse. For example, in 1935 a 2600 mile race from Ashgabat to Moscow was held with Akhal Tekes!

Akhal Teke horse

In contrast, here is an Arabian horse:
Arabian horse

1 comment:

  1. Where to start...Ive seen Thoroughbreds (TBs) who look like Arabs. I've seen Arabs who look like TBs. Many Arabs and TBs can be spooky, but I've also observed both breeds as steady children's and beginners mounts.
    There were many tribes who bred Arabs, there were once many types. Some looked almost like the Akal Teke, had very straight profiles, with long and lanky bodies. What you think of as the "Arab look" is whats currently popular and what's typically bred.
    As for the actual DNA of the TB, I'm no expert. I simply had to set straight the physical and mental chatacteristics of the two breeds as represented here.