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International Association
of Akhal-Teke Breeding (MAAK)

All-Russian Scientific Research Institute
of Horse Breeding (VNIIK)

VNIIK is a major founder of MAAK. For many decades it's known in Russia and in the world as a scientific center for horse breeding. We would like to tell you more about VNIIK and about it's role in the rehabilitation and improvement of the Akhal-Teke breed.

In the West not many people know that VNIIK is a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Trakehner, Arab and Shagya Arab Horse Societies and of the English Jockey Club and the Trotting Association. Our immunogenetics laboratory is recognised by ISAC and the head of this laboratory, Professor Dubrovskaya Rimma, was referred to in the "Times" as one of the leading women scientists of the twentieth century. Our computer analyses of the primary bloodstock count in horse breeding and the original editor of the database won international awards and the work was patented in l997. All the specialists at big studfarms, including those in Turkmenistan, Kazahstan etc., who work with the Akhal-Teke breed have studied at VNIIK and used its material.

At the present time the immunogenetics laboratory at VNIIK is on the International committee which studies the genetics of animals. It has the latest DNA testing equipment. For the past year the immunogenetics laboratory has been carrying out protein and DNA blood tests on horses.

Since its inception in l930 VNIIK has been in charge of selection work with the Akhal-Teke breed through a number of affiliated centres across the country, including the Tashkent experimental station where the principal scientific worker was E. Ershova, author of the first selection project with the breed.

The horse breeding industry underwent a dark period of persecution in the sixties and the Akhal-Teke breed was in danger of extinction. Only on 1st January 1973, on the order of the Ministry of Agriculture, did the Institute of Horse Breeding resume work with this unique breed. The latest chapter in the history of the Akhal-Teke horse began at that time.

In l973 Ryabova T.N. undertook a major expedition visiting for the first time all the places, including Turkmenistan, where Akhal-Teke horses were bred. Together with the merited breeder Cherkezova D. she carried out the vital work of compiling a census of Akhal-Teke horses. The situation was dire. In all they managed to find and save 300 thoroughbred mares and just over 80 sires, part of these horses was in Russia. It was from this nucleus that the breed was gradually rehabilitated. From the end of the 50's the process of breeding thoroughbred Akhal-Tekes was single-mindedly pursued in Russia. From l979 the showing of thoroughbred young stock at racecourses did much to heighten interest in the breed and improved the maintenance of these horses.

Over the whole period of our work with the breed we have achieved the following:
- introduced blood testing of the entire stock;
- compiled four volumes of the Stud Book of thoroughbred Akhal-Teke horses, including the progeny of mares entered in preceding volumes (in all seven books have appeared);
- issued three volumes of the Stud Book of half-bred horses, including the progeny of the mares;
- issued twelve "Registers of Young Stock";
- developed three selection projects for the breed (which have been successfully implemented);
- created and approved nine lines;
- developed a technology of rearing and maintaining Akhal-Teke horses;
- developed a system of evaluating stallions at stud by the quality of their offspring;
- developed a system of assessing the quality of the paces and the jumping ability of Akhal-Teke horses;
- developed a system of judging type and conformation;
- worked out scales of the development of young stock etc;
- since l978 analytical information on the state of the breed for the past year has been published annually, and since l999 the journal-almanac "Akhal-Teke Inform" has appeared.

Since l993 we have organised shows at the Pyatigorsk racecourse at which the title of "Russian Champion" is awarded, and since l999 the "World Championship" has been held in Moscow.

At the present time were are carrying out work on:
- the creation of two new lines;
- the creation of dam families;
- the inheritance of markings;
- the inheritance of the metallic sheen of the coat;
- research into types within the breed;
- the development of a new grading system and much else besides.

The bloodstock count within the breed over the whole territory of the USSR has always been made by specialists at VNIIK. The Institute has always been generous in sharing its scientific findings with colleagues in Russia and other countries, including those in Turkmenistan. And we have always worked without regard to politics, communicating and making friends with simple people, with those who have fed, nurtured and loved Teke horses.

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