Spotlight on Arabian Horse Breeds – Young Rider

Photo by Alexia Khruscheva / Shutterstock

Picture this scene: A glorious black Arabian stallion swims mightily in the ocean following a shipwreck, pulling you to the safety of a desert island where you will later learn to ride it.

It could happen if you are Alec Ramsey in The black stallion movie and book, but even if you haven’t been shipwrecked on an island with a wild stallion, you’ve probably seen Arabian horses in the stable or at horse shows. The Arab is a beautiful breed capable of many different jobs.

Why are Arabian horses famous?

A breed of lightweight horses that measure between 14.1 and 15.3 hands (although 15.1 is more common on the high end), Arabian horses have been valued for centuries for their endurance and versatility. But Arabs are also famous for their distinctive beauty and presence. How does the appearance of the Arab distinguish him from other races?

Young Rider Magazine LogoPart of the reason is surely the sculpted head of the Arab, who sports a strongly rounded face and large eyes prominently on the sides of the face. The muzzle of the Arab is small, but the nostrils are flared, which also adds to the dramatic appearance of this breed. There is an unmistakable elegance in the Arab that contributes to his distinctive type, stemming from his arched neck and graceful body.

You’ll find Arabs in four different coat colors: bay, black, brown, and gray, sometimes with occasional roars caused by coat patterns like the rabicano. Gray is something of a classic Arab color, and many foundation stallions were gray, including the imported Raffles and Skowronek.

Race - Arabian Horse;  Discipline - Endurance
Arabs are well known to excel at endurance. Photo courtesy of the Young Arab Horses Association

How is the skeleton of an Arab different?

If you study the conformation of many breeds of horses, you may notice that the Arabian tends to have a shorter back than other breeds, as well as a high tail and a flat rump. There is a good reason for this: Most Arabs actually have a slightly different skeletal structure than other breeds of horses.

In addition to having a higher bone density than other breeds, Arabs generally have one rib less and only have five lumbar vertebrae in their backs instead of six, which results in a shorter back. In addition, their tail is missing two vertebrae, which could contribute to the Arab’s tendency to lift its tail high when excited.

Arab Western Pleasure
The versatile Arabian is an excellent partner for Western or English riding. Photo by Paulette Johnson

How versatile is an Arabian horse?

The fiery Arab has no shortage of talent when it comes to competition or performance. Arabs are used in races and also participate in endurance riding, where the horse and rider go on long-distance treks of 50 or 100 miles.

And whether it’s a local open show or an Arab-bred show, you’ll find Arabs competing in the fields of hunting, western fun, English fun, dressage, jumping, saddle seat, reining, cup and many other disciplines, in addition to the hand conformation and staging course. Even if you initially think that Arabs are riding horses, you will also find some who compete in pleasure driving.

Arabs also excel outside of competition, whether it’s a leisurely descent on a trail or a low-key stroll around the open-air arena.

Arabian horse
Arabs are easily recognized by their bulging faces and graceful movements. Photo by Robert Peek / Shutterstock

Are Arabian Horses Good For Beginners?

If you are interested in Arabian horses and want to learn more about them, you might be interested in the Arabian Horse Association’s Discovery Farm program. This program is an opportunity for novice riders to meet Arabian horses and learn from informative farm owners who wish to share their knowledge about Arabs.

For thousands of years, people have cherished their alliance with the Arabian horse. And when you go up or watch an Arab, remember that you are participating in that connection and helping to write the last chapter in the history of the Arab.

Arabs and scholarships

The association of the Arabian horse
◆ Grants from the national Arab horse judging competition
◆ Arabian Horse Youth Association Board Scholarships
◆ Club and affiliate scholarships

The Arab Horse Foundation

In a single, convenient location, the Arabian Horse Foundation allows students to complete a single application which automatically makes them eligible for all commemorative and regional scholarships.

The Foundation awards scholarships to high school students who have represented the Arab race in a positive way, have achieved good results in their studies, and have been excellent members of their community. The research branch of the Foundation is committed to supporting equine research aimed at improving the health of the Arabian breed.

Important dates in Arab history

About. 2500 BC: The ancestors of Arabian horses reside in the deserts of the Middle East and are loved by the Bedouin people.

1724: The Arabian Godolphin was born. He would later become one of the most influential stallions in thoroughbred history.

1770s: George Washington rides Blueskin, a half Arab, throughout the War of Independence.

1888: The first purebred Arab breeding program is established in the United States.

1908: The Arabian Horse Club of America (now the Arabian Horse Association) is established and 71 purebred Arabs are registered. Over a million Arabian horses were registered in 2020.

1926: WK Kellogg (of Kellogg Cereal fame) imports Arabs and establishes Kellogg Ranch.

1926: Stallion * Raffles was born at Lady Wentworth’s Crabbet Arabian Stud in Sussex, England. He arrived in the United States in the 1930s and began his influential contribution to Arab breeding in the United States.

1941: that of Walter Farley The black stallion is published.

1948: that of Marguerite Henry King of the Wind: The Story of the Arabian Godolphin was published, and he won the Newbery Medal in 1949 for his outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

1956: The stallion * Bask ++ was born in Poland. He was then imported to the United States, where he subsequently sired more than 1,000 foals.

1993: An Arabian stallion named JB Kobask makes his debut as “Thunder”, an official mascot of the Denver Broncos football team. Two other Arabian geldings also served as Thunder II and Thunder III, respectively.

2003: The Arabian Horse Association is formed by a merger between the International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA) and the Arabian Horse Registry of America (AHRA). It becomes the official register of the breed.

This article on the Arabian horse breed appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe !

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