|Introducing the Arabian Horse
Elegance, intelligence, endurance, speed: these are the hallmark characteristics of the Arabian horse. One of the most ancient breeds in the world, its grace, stamina, beauty, and mild temperament has also made it one of the most popular.
The Arabian, or Arab, horse is a light breed that originated in the Arabian Peninsula as long as 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. Over thousands of years in a harsh, arid climate, Arabian horses have physiologically adapted to the desert and can thrive on very little food. (See “Early History of the Arabian Horse” for more information about the breed’s origins and history).
Believed to have been domesticated by the Bedouin, the Arabian was used as in battle, travel, and racing. Arabians are considered hot-blooded – the most alert, intelligent, and loyal having been selectively bred for war. As a result, Arabian horses are smart and sensitive, requiring a competent and dedicated handler.
Impact of the Arabian Breed
Arabians were the main parental stock for a variety of other horse breeds, such as the thoroughbred, American Saddlebred, quarter horse, and standard bred horse. The breed is still commonly crossed with these and other types of light and draft horses.
Given its antiquity and excellent qualities, it’s easy to see why Arabian is the preferred parent stock for breeding new types of horses. Over the centuries, introducing Arabian blood has been a sure way to improve and strengthen other breeds. According to According to Carrie Braulick, author of The Arabian Horse, nearly all horses have at least some Arabian ancestors.
The Arabian horse is known for its graceful features and noble bearing. It has many distinctive features that make it immediately recognizable. Most noticeable among these are its high, arched neck and full flowing mane and tail – the latter of which is carries high and proud, like a flag or banner. It also has sloped shoulders, and a strong, short back.
The Arabian horse head also has many distinctive features. Its expressive ears are small and pointed. Its large, dark, almond-shaped eyes are widely spaced. Beneath the eyes, the head slopes inward, creating a dished area above a nose with large nostrils. The entire head is wedge-shaped, narrowing to a small, delicate, soft muzzle.
Though not particularly tall or large, Arabian horses have dense bones, and so carry more weight than other breeds of similar size. They typically measure 14 to 15 hands high at the withers (about 56 to 60 in or 140 to 150 cm) and they weigh around 850 to 1,000 pounds (about 390 to 450 kg).
The reddish-brown color of the bay is the most common Arabian horse color, and all bays have black manes and tails. Arab horses may also be gray, brown, chestnut, black, or roan (a mottled mix of white with one of the previous three colors). Arab horses of any color may also have white leg and face markings.
Technically speaking, there is no true white Arabian horse. As a desert adaptation, even Arabians with white coats have dark skin beneath. As a result, all apparently white Arabians horses are more accurately described as grays.
The Arabian horse is a spectacular distance runner, regularly outperforming other breeds in endurance competitions. They are also used to compete in other areas such as trail-riding, halter competition, and racing. Of course they are also beloved companions and enjoyed for pleasure riding by thousands the world over.
Article by Shana Leslie
(1) Photo by Mustafa Khayat, CC BY-ND 2.0
(2) Photo by Thowra_uk, CC BY 2.0
(3) Photo by Coralie M Photographie, CC BY-SA
- Straight Egyptian Sheykh Obeyd, Heirloom Homozygous Black Arabian stallion Zarif El Mansour