by Kristin Berkery
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Horse and rider in native Turkoman costume, date and photographer unknown
Absent, foaled in 1952 and winner of three Olympic medals. Photographer unknown
This summer marks 52 years since one of the most unusual horses first competed at the Summer Olympics in Rome. Absent, a striking black Akhal Teke stallion with four white socks and a star, introduced the world to a little-known ancient breed when he won a gold medal in dressage for the Soviet Union. He returned to the Olympics two more times for an individual bronze medal in 1964 and a team gold medal in 1968, both in dressage.