Ride Around the World Horse: The Arabian of the Middle East

In the spirit of this year's Ridefest theme, "Ride Around the World," we're going to explore a horse breed from across the world each week. 

The Arabian

Equest Therapy Horse Tez is an Arabian/Thoroughbred Cross

Equest Therapy Horse Tez is an Arabian/Thoroughbred Cross

The Arabian existed on the Arabian peninsula at least 2,000 years ago

The Arabian existed on the Arabian peninsula at least 2,000 years ago

Environment: Desert
Origin: Prehistoric
Blood: Hot
Colors: All solid
Uses: Saddle

The Arabian horse is considered the fountainhead of all the world's breeds and is acknowledged as the principal foundation of the Thoroughbred. It is the purest descent and is the most ancient of all the equine races.

Breeding: A race of horses of Arabian type existed on the Arabian peninsula at least 2,000 years before the Christian era. This is indicated by the existence of art forms and the word-of-mouth evidence handed down by the Bedouin people, who were closely connected with the "desert horse." The prepotent Arabian blood was spread throughout the known world by Muslim conquests initiated by the Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century. As a result, the Arabian became the one essential factor in the development of the world's equines. 

Note the rounded ribs, not prominent withers, and unique head

Note the rounded ribs, not prominent withers, and unique head

Characteristics: The Arabian horse is the most beautiful of all, at once unmistakable and unforgettable in appearance. The unique outline is governed by the proportions and the skeletal formation. Unlike other breeds, which have 18 ribs, 6 lumbar bones, and 18 tail vertebrae, the Arabian has a 17-5-16 structure. This also accounts for the distinctively high tail carriage. The breed is unsurpassed in stamina; in movement it "floats," and, while it is fiery and courageous, it is innately gentle. The staying power, and the soundness of the breed in respect of wind and leg, make the Arabian an obvious choice for the fast-growing discipline of long-distance, or endurance, riding. Although not nearly so fast as its derivative the Thoroughbred, flat racing confined to Arabians and Anglo-Arabs is also carried on with enthusiasm in many parts of the world. Today, the Arabian is bred extensively throughout the world, with the United States probably having the largest Arabian horse population. All countries breeding Arabian horses have their own studbooks which are approved, in the interests of harmonization, by the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO). 

Edwards, Elwyn Hartley; Langrish, Bob (PHT). “Arabian.” Smithsonian Handbooks Horses, Dk Pub., pp. 174–175.

CJ Bankhead