The market is a dream

A review of the latest sales and European horse auctions results in the following conclusions:

  1. In general, the prices of horses have been settled in all sectors of the equestrian market.

  2. Prices have increased only for the products of outstanding producers, including not just horses but even their embryos:

Interestingly, the phenomenon of the sale of embryos of outstanding parent couples at unbelievable prices, their cost in general equalizes prices of real horses. This is a new precedent and it means that today the dream of a distinguished horse is worth as much – if not more – than most horses in reality.

How are these trends affecting the Akhal-Teke breed? It definitely fits the first point. With regards to the second point, it would be tempting to move this trend to our breed as well. But first we have to define the term “outstanding” in relation to Akhal-Teke horses.

So, who are these outstanding horses, the prices of the products that could grow? What are the signs of this “extraordinariness”? I suggest we run through the market sectors and find out the positions of our horses.

The rarity sector is significantly felled for objective reasons related to the overall economic and political situation in the country. The external market is this direction is more pragmatic and therefore passive.

Outstanding horses in this sector can be described as possessors of a unique type, so-called “quintessence” of the breed, when the horse itself is a piece of art. There are few such horses but they do exist and their prices are high. It represents a part of the market and the sales are very tempting.

The breeder sector is limited and is also affected by economic recession. It is not possible to count on this market, only on incidental sales. The very understanding of an exceptional horse is not a top priority, and not for every fan of the Akhal-Teke.

The hobby sector is marked for low-cost horses. There is no hope for this market, nor is the competition against other breeds high. The same sector can be attributed to many followers of horsemanship, but it is also more important than the breed or the quality of the horse.

The racing sector of the market focuses only on domestic demand and is limited to the economy of the racehorse industry in Russia, where the Akhal-Teke sector of horse racing breeds is only a small fraction of the overall racing industry. In addition the breed is small and therefore incapable of creating the full conditions for the establishing of a separate Akhal-Teke racehorse sector. This means that there is no economic basis for the development of Akhal-Teke racing. It is the passion of the Akhal-Teke owners that keeps the sector alive. These few “afficionados” and their horses move in small circles and it is therefore difficult to take this market into account.

Outstanding steeds are identified every year and in every generation; and they are very important for the development of the breed. But their outstanding results do not go beyond intraspecific records and are particular to the breed. They cannot distinguish themselves from the common position of the universal racing horse, the English Thoroughbred.

The sport sector: It is much more complicated than the other sectors. In addition to the fact that the breed needs to focus on the selection of qualities needed I equestrian sports – which has never been done – there has been a window of success not seen since the 1970’s of the last century. But the market is huge, open, diverse and more promising and should be better exploited as this is where the most expensive product is sold – the dream of a showcase for the horse.

The sport sector should be divided into different disciplines as each equestrian sport requires different qualities from a horse. Do not make the distinction between amateur and professional sport since higher athletic achievements always serve as locomotives in sport for thousands of amateurs. And the borderline between an amateur and a professional can be quite this. Breeders must aim at the creation of top horses and on the way to that top a lot of horses are able to meet the demands of ordinary equestrian enthusiasts.

Outstanding horses in this sector are holders of higher athletic titles and it is their offspring that can demand the highest value.

  1. Endurance: Most of the Teke horses fall well under the quality criteria to reach the top pf this type of sport. There are enough small horses of other breeds with stylish, economical movements, good legs and cardiovascular system. The problem is stiff competition from the Arab horse, where specialized selection for endurance over 30 years has given them an excellent reputation. The low cost of polo ponies is also an obstacle to the development of this market.

However, this kind of market is fairly large and if we want to succeed we need to do special selection, tests and create an adequate showcase for successful endurance Tekes.

  1. Polo: The experience of the Moscow Polo Club has given a positive reputation for the prospects of using Teke horses in this sport. So far their use has been sporadic but the polo market is large and our horses are well-positioned to take their place in this sport. Of course the price of such horses is low but with success, it will rise. I don’t think we need breed special selection for polo but so far we are still guests in this sport.


  1. Eventing: Along with the simplification of the Eventing tests the complexity of Teke horses has grown significantly. The breed has sufficient capacity to meet the requirements of this sport. I don’t even see the need for any special breeding effort. These horses are generally good at jumping, resilient and flexible so as to be successful in this sport. The Tekes’ successful performances in the sports lists of Eventing will help overcome the poor image of the breed. Competition in this market sector is high, particularly among Warmbloods and the cost of the horses is relatively low.


  1. Show Jumping: This type of equestrian sport puts the heaviest demands on a horse. The horses in jumping have to have adequate measurements, strength and sharpness, and horses with such parameters are quite rare in the Akhal-Teke breed. It is not possible to say that the breed is not capable of producing the necessary traits but this requires careful selection, particularly from those stud farms – those rare ones – from which it is possible to put the requisite qualities in place. To achieve this goal, a large budget and a couple of decades will be needed before we can compete with the leading warmbloods of the world.

Horses in this sector fetch a high price, which is where the dream is born. At the same time, not only the highly trained competing horses but even the embryos of the most outstanding parents reach an incredible price level. Recently, one embryo was sold for 60.000,- euros and already in February this year another was sold for 100.000,- euros. These sales show signs of stable demand, independent of any crises, to realize the top horse dream because they sell no more than a dream about horses.

At the moment I do not see the preconditions in our breed to make such a quantum leap in jumping; it is not a question of genetic potential but a question – first of all – of a lack of will on the part of investors. And it is hard and expensive to do it alone.

  1. Riding/Dressage: It is a kind of sport where the Akhal-Teke breed has proven itself; granted, in times past but the example is there. And now there are horses, though very few of them who are able to compete at a high level. Yes, that is the little there is and one has to concentrate and develop the right traits carefully, there is no other way. Today’s dressage places the highest demands on a horses and our selection goals must be scrupulously followed. Today it is not easy to direct the skills of a horse but it is necessary to present an amazing spectacle. The Akhal-Teke should and must be the prominent horse in this sector. And it is very important that dressage horses have the highest value in all areas of the sporting sector of the market.


What is necessary is to put the most talented riders on our talented horses. There are few of both but they are there.

If we talk about talented horses in general, we have the potential and in fact the sum, of all the sectors of the market; but only in the rare and exotic sectors. I don’t think anyone in this market can buy an embryo-dream at the prices mentioned above – it is probably less of a dream than reality here.

L. Babaev

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