This is your story. Because when missiles rained down on Ukraine, you didn’t forget the Akhal-Tekes.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the rare & amazing Akhal-Teke horses living there were suddenly put at terrible risk.
Missiles and rocket debris fell in Akhal-Teke horse pastures. Horses of other breeds died in bombed and torched stables, or were set loose when their people had to flee. Daily horse care routes wound through miles of burned out cars and houses.
In the U.S., board members of the Akhal-Teke Association of America (ATAA) agreed on wanting to help, & entrusted the Akhal-Teke Foundation (ATF) public charity to manage a joint “Emergency Fund for Ukraine Akhal-Tekes.” The ATAA put up $5000 as a fundraising match.
A whirlwind of international activity in an coordinating group supported the ATF’s fundraising, assessed needs in Ukraine, coordinated offers of help, identified safe refuges in the EU, & problem-solved perilous evacuation routes across war-torn Ukraine, complex quarantine requirements for horses to enter the EU, and difficult, costly, bureaucratic crossings at border checkpoints hugely overwhelmed with human refugees.
While some horses could be evacuated, the largest Akhal-Teke breeder in Ukraine had just started foaling season, & those horses would need support for sheltering in place.
On 3/22, less than a month into the disaster, the Akhal-Teke Foundation funded the first round of evacuation transport for Akhal-Tekes from Ukraine. And on 3/29, disaster aid from the Emergency Fund went to securing hay & oats for the largest group of Akhal-Tekes in Ukraine.
By mid-September, all the Akhal-Tekes identified in Ukraine with cooperating owners were either been evacuated safely, or where necessary, fed in place, despite terrible wartime conditions.
The Akhal-Teke horse people whose horses we have helped in Ukraine have expressed their deepest gratitude and thanks. As this is written a full year into the war, no Ukraine Akhal-Tekes have been lost.Full story online
Part of what sets Akhal-Teke stallion Adamek apart for his rider and trainer Sabine Desper is that he is such a perfect gentleman.
That may run counter to stereotype for his hot-blooded Central Asian breed, now known to have provided the founding stallions for the speedy Thoroughbred.
And yet with such highly intelligent, sensitive, and people-oriented horses as the Akhal-Tekes, simple stereotypes tend to go by the wayside.
With their proud carriage, super-athletic greyhound conformation, and almost-unbelievable metallic shine, the Akhal-Tekes seem to know they are royalty of the horse world. Called the “golden horses” by a long series of storied civilizations, Akhal-Tekes have been prized for millennia by human royalty, too.
Adamek (Gindarkh x Agniya) was still a colt when Sabine met him at Shenandoah Farm, the original Akhal-Teke stud farm in North America. She heard stories of how the mischievous yearling Adamek would come running down the hillside with his perlino buddy Kiergen, charging toward the outdoor arena to “crash the party” while riding lessons were in progress.
Today, Sabine says, “He loves cookies and neck scratches. But he’s still too reserved to obviously show affection — that’s the stallion in him — and so polite.”
“He is so careful taking a treat, never pushy, and enjoys small treats, rather than a huge chunk… but better make it lots of them,” she adds, laughing.
“It’s vital for rare breed breeders and stallion owners to be aware that end-of-life collection is a possibility, and that resources are out there,” advises Matthews. “It’s also incredibly valuable for veterinarians to know The Livestock Conservancy’s Manual is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Johnston is now using this first-hand experience to share their hard-won knowledge with other Akhal-Teke owners around the world. “I’m reaching out to people in my circles and encouraging them to take a closer look at this breeding tool as a resource to help preserve the irreplaceable genetics of rare breeds,” she says. “It was kind of an experiment for us, and it was successful.”
Johnston concludes, “Without a doubt, we’d do it again.”
"For 40 years, from the arrival of Senetir in 1979, to 2019, Phil and Margot ran The Akhal-Teke Stud with an expansive, generous spirit, making vast and invaluable contributions to establishing the Akhal-Teke in North America.
"Over the millennia of Akhal-Tekes on Earth, these special horses have periodically relied on special people to step up in service of their survival.
"We are so grateful for all the generous support from today’s generation of Akhal-Teke lovers. You make this ongoing transition of the remarkable Case legacy, into a robust, explicitly non-profit model possible, to continue helping the Akhal-Teke horse thrive in North America."
In December, 2019, Phil Case passed away, following a heart attack at age 87. A long-time Akhal-Teke breeder and the first importer to the United States, he survived his wife, Margot, by ten years, continuing his management of Shenandoah Farm, also called the Akhal-Teke Stud, right up to the end.
“The story of the Akhal-Teke horse in North America begins with Phil and Margot Case,” according to fellow Akhal-Teke breeder Kevin Matthews. “And it’s a pretty amazing story.” ...
In the last years before Phil’s death, a small group of us began collaborating with Phil and his family to plan for the future of their Akhal-Tekes legacy, including the 35 purebreds currently on the farm. Akhal- Teke breeders Pat Johnston and Kevin Matthews, of Swan Farm Akhal-Tekes, are now assisting the Case family in building a positive transition for all the horses. And with initial support from the Case family, Pat and Kevin have launched the Akhal-Teke Foundation, a public charity for Akhal-Teke education. Phil and Margot’s remarkable legacy, preserving and promoting the Akhal-Teke horse in North America, will continue!