Arabian Horse Breed
Arabians, as you have probably guessed, come from the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, as if straight out of a scene from Arabian Nights. Surviving there demeaned living through droughts, famines, tribal wars and harsh weather conditions. It was very much in sense, “survival of the fittest” and these horses won the test. Numerous legends about tough, yet beautiful horses running for days without food or water in the desert or ferociously leading their Bedouin masters through rival wars only add to the appeal and aura around the breed that has influenced such a large amount of the horse population we enjoy today.
They were greatly prized by Bedouins for being fearless in battle and could endure anything that was asked of them. The breed is known for attaching strongly to one master, family, or rider and being highly sensitive and intelligent. When the rider isn't alert, the Arabian is; heightened sensitivity helped them find food and water in the desert or alert its owner of a potential enemy attack. This trait in popular times is called “hot blooded” but is often a misconception. As fiery as this breed can be, they are trusted with children in riding programs because of their better sensitivity to their riders.
The average Arabian stands between 14.1 and 15.1 hands tall, weighs anywhere between 800 and 1,000 pounds and should look light and not extremely bulky or weighted. A chiseled and dished facial profile has been their stamp of uniqueness since the beginning of their recordable history and helped them stand out compared to the Barb horse, a horse also used by Bedouins in northern Africa. The Arabian horse head has been used in art and horse illustrations for hundreds of years as the universal example of equestrian beauty.
Arabians can be any solid coat color but are most commonly gray, bay and chestnut. Rare coat patterns such as the Rabacino (like a roan but not so roan-y) and the Sabino (white splashy markings that occur above the knee, often on the barrel) exist in purebreds, but infrequently. A stallion born in 1996 was discovered to have a unique dominant white gene unseen before in equine genetics but that again, is extremely rare.
A floating, whispy-like trot, a cadence-like walk and a strong but easy canter that could go on for miles or change quickly into a racing gallop are all essentials to a purebred Arabian. Equally expressive as their gaits, their ears and tail carriage are always erect and straight. Their neck is also set within angled shoulders and should be equal in size with the horse's barrel and flank. Arabians have typically short backs and crops set on delicate but dense legs and strong medium-sized hooves. Purebred Arabians can have one less lumbar vertebrae (5), complimenting one less set of ribs (17) then their fellow Equus genus family members. Don't be fooled by their size, Arabians can travel with heavy packs without struggle.
The list of horse breeds the Arabian directly influenced is long and almost every breed you read about will have ties or have mentioned the influence of them at some point in the breed's development. On almost every continent, breeders have refined or shaped the breed with selective lines, or strains, such as the Polish, Desert, or Egyptian Arabian. Today, the real interest and money lies in the development of the purebred although cross breeding to Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints and Morgans is very popular. At the three day Dubai International Arabian Horse Show, the show's top Arabian is awarded over 4 million dollars in prize money as the horse community is interested in developing the breed to be the best of the best.
The Arabian Horse Association is an international association for the breeds owners and breeders and offers shows for Arabians and Half-Arabians across North America and overseas. Arabians are unanimously the best and strongest endurance and competitive trail horse and are always topping the results boards of the hardest of endurance races such as the American Tevis Cup or Dubai's Crown Prince Cup. However, their stamina is also exemplified in the show arena and Arabians can be seen competing in dressage, western pleasure, competitive driving, racing and even reining. They are a multi-talented horse breed with the athletic ability to excel in a variety of disciplines.