A VERY PERSONAL review ...

Moscow, 12-15 Sept. 2019

I am usually a more introvert person and not very communicative/talky on facebook. But after my last trip to Moscow last week I have the feeling to write a personal review about my impression about „our“ Akhal Tekke breed.

First of all, I want to thank Tatiana Follet, Maria Motsar and Igor Bochkarev to invite me as a judge for the Russia Cup 2019 - a kind of a russian championship for Akhal Teke horses - at 13. September 2019. It was held at the Maxima Stables in Moscow during an equestrian event including a fair, show jumping, dressage, eventing, different breed shows and a veterinarian conference from 11-15. September 2019. To include the championship to such kind of festival is a quite good idea to attract more audience. Unfortunately we started friday afternoon at 4 pm quite late and only very few visitors where there.

My first day in Moscow:
In the team of judges were Nadegda Abramova, Svetlana Subbotina, Julia Schmid from Germany and me. Julia Schmid was also a judge for the warmblood breed show a day before. For me it seems to be interesting to mix Russian Akhal Teke experts with German horse professionals. In the show were 42 Akhal Teke horses from 1 year old on. Julia and me were introduced by Mrs Abramova in the Russian way of judging - using a range from 7-10 with 0.1 points and marks for type, exterior and movement. The horses should be shown in hand and in free moving for them they can/want to do. Julia and me suggested maybe to add 2 marks for movement (walk and trot). But that would be too German … Unfortunately Julia couldn’t read the horses names because the catalogue was only in Russian. It would be nice to have an English version as well ;-) So we started the judging and in total we had quite ok results. Some horses really impressed by their appearance. The organization was in total good, only the gaps between the different classes were too big (which was a logistic problem of the huge maxima stable and a lack of handlers) and the information about the horses should be more transparent in English. I really liked the presentation of Russian Artists and their paintings and sculptures during the day! The 42 Akhal Tekes were in my eyes from a lot of medium up to few very high level of quality. Most of the horses had a good, very nice type, but unfortunately sometimes less movements. As a rider of course I am looking especially also to movements which is an important fact for the use of a horse. The ring of the 2 year old mares showed the highest quality in my opinion. At the end with a lovely „Best of Best“ result: 2 year old mare Garam-Shah. All results are online: akhal-teke.ru (in Russian!). And a special price was given by Alexander Klimuk to stallion Perz-Don who was shown a day before in a free-jumping contest among warmbloods. Julia Schmid mentioned him from judging as a very good jumper for an Akhal Teke Horse.
My personal conclusion of the day:
I have to do with Akhal Teke horses nice about 20 years and I can not really see any development or progress. The gap between beautiful types - racehorses and riding horses becomes bigger and bigger. We are lost in a chaos without any system. Maybe the arabian style of ECHO is the opposite with too much rules, regalements and system, but we have nothing. I was judge in August in Mashhad Iran, they had a scoreboard with movement - type - head/neck - body/topline - shoulder/frontlegs - croup/hindlegs with a range from 1-10 in half-steps like 0.5. This was in my eyes quite progressive and interesting. For a breeding show/system definitely something to work on to get a unique system of judging/evaluate a horse and there are already well working systems like at the arabs or warmbloods and the lack of knowledge/education doesn’t make it better. Maybe it would already help the breeders if judges could add a kind of potential use like horse for endurance/dressage/show jumping/racing/polo. Also a mark for general impression is quite helpful.
An other subject is the show itself. Breeding shows are boring for the audience. So, once we could offer shows for entertainment and presenting Akhal Teke horses in their beauty and use - which would be good for the audience and the market. Second we just do the breeding shows, but more efficient and in higher quality to really evaluate and analyze the breed more for breeders and lovers of the breed interesting. And third a combination of breeding classes with entertainment-shows in between the gaps.
These are just my personal ideas and some insights I want to share after this day.

My second day:
On my second day I visited Shael Studfarm together with Nadja Tarasova, Alexander Klimuk, Vitaly Andrukhovich and two people from Lithuania. We started early morning the typical Moscow traffic challenge to get to the studfarm. After a delicious breakfast in a cozy coffee place in the last big village before the stud we were prepared with jackets and umbrellas to see Leonid Babaev horses at his farm. We started with the mares with foals and after them we saw the whole female young stock one by one in free moving through the big corral. Luckily the rain stopped and we went to the pasture to let the herd out. The horses were happy to go from the wooden boxes out to the pasture, getting a nice role on the ground and fresh gras. The herd moved harmonious and relaxed outside to enjoy the sun and the gras. Afterwards we had a look at the colts and young stallions. Also free moving in the corral, some over a little jump which seems to be new for them. But most of them managed it very well. At the end of the presentation we saw breeding stallion Alvan presenting himself in a perfect manner free running and enjoying the attention. „Russian-like“ we finished the day at the farm with shashlik and cognac. The fantastic meat out of the tandoor was the perfect finish after hours of looking at horses outside. All the discussions and conversations made the day worth and interesting. On the way back we stopped at an other stable to see another stallion of Leonid (Ezis) moving powerful over the pasture. Late night we arrived well back in Moscow - full-filled with lots of impressions.

My personal conclusion of the day:
I saw lots of horses, met old friends, made new friends and had interesting discussions. Most of the horses at Leonids place are real „movers“, able to carry their weight, showing impulsion from the hindlegs, using back and shoulders - which make them very interesting as riding horses. Some of Leonid horses could even pass through other breeds because absence or less type. But what I personally miss is the type of the Akhal Teke. The horses have mostly good bones, strong joints and can move, but I miss the soul of the Akhal Teke. This small magic piece which makes our horses so special, for what I love them.
After this day I asked myself isn’t it possible to have a typical mover? Often the akhal Teke horses have the one or the other (Moscow and Mashhad were for me once more an example for it) - and than what about temperament and mentality?

Other questions are still in my mind: Where are the young people? At the championship in Moscow were the well known, but „older“ breeders.So, where is the next generation? How can we save and share knowledge (unfortunately some still doesn't want to share it) for our future? Maybe all this sounds a little bit too negative, but I wanted to share my personal view, how my reality is in our breed. All in all I think we are circling around ourselves over the last years which let me step away of breeding on my own or being part of an association. But it will not stop me for traveling around the world because of these horses and meeting friends - because in that fact our world is so smal.


Katharina Jakob

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