Arabian horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. Most display a distinctive concave, or “dished” profile. Many Arabians also have a slight forehead bulge between their eyes, called the jibbah by the Bedouin, that adds additional sinus capacity, believed to have helped the Arabian horse in its native dry desert climate.
Another breed characteristic is an arched neck with a large, well-set windpipe on a refined, clean throat latch. The structure of the poll and throat latch was called the mitbah or mitbeh by the Bedouin. In the best Arabians it is long, allowing flexibility in the bridle and room for the windpipe.
The breed standard stated by the United States Equestrian Federation describes Arabians as standing 14.1 to 15.1 hands (57 to 61 inches) tall. The Arabian Horse Association registers purebred horses with the coat colors bay, gray, chestnut, black and roan. Bay, gray and chestnut are the most common; black is less common. Purebred Arabians never carry dilution genes. Therefore, purebreds cannot be colors such as dun, cremello, palomino or buckskin. Purebred Arabians today do not carry genes for pinto or Appaloosa spotting patterns, except for sabino.
From the ancient deserts of the Middle East evolved the oldest known breed of riding horse, the Arabian. Now one of the most popular breeds in America, the Arabians’ incredible energy, intelligence and gentle disposition allow riders to excel in most equine sports and activities. Today, Arabian horses spend as much time on the trail as they do at horse shows and other competitive events.
For thousands of years, Arabians lived among the desert tribes of the Arabian peninsula, bred by the Bedouins as war mounts for long treks and quick forays into enemy camps. In these harsh desert conditions evolved the Arabian with its large lung capacity and incredible endurance.
Historical figures like Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Alexander The Great and George Washington rode Arabians. Even today, one finds descendants from the earliest Arabian horses of antiquity. Then, a man’s wealth was measured in his holdings of these fine animals. Given that the Arabian was the original source of quality and speed, and remains foremost in the fields of endurance and soundness, he still either directly or indirectly contributed to the formation of virtually all the modern breeds of horses.
The prophet Mohammed, in the seventh century AD, was instrumental in spreading the Arabian’s influence around the world. He instructed his followers to look after Arabians and treat them with kindness. He instructed that special attentions should be paid to the mares because they insure the continuity of the breed. He also proclaimed that Allah had created the Arabian, and that those who treated the horse well would be rewarded in the afterlife.
The severe climate required the nomads to share food and water, and sometimes even their tents with their horses. As a result, Arabians developed a close affinity to man and a high intelligence.
Over the centuries, the Bedouin tribes zealously maintained the purity of the breed. Because of their limited resources, breeding practices were extremely selective. Such practices, which eventually helped the Arabian become a prized possession throughout the world, have led to the beautiful athletic breed we know today, which is marked by a distinctive dished profile; large, lustrous, wide-set eyes on a broad forehead; small, curved ears; and large, efficient nostrils.
Even today the purebred Arabian is virtually the same as that ridden in ancient Arabia. Arabians now display their athletic talents in a variety of disciplines from English to Western, with the Arabian positioned as the undisputed champion of endurance events.
Historically, the Arabian was a war horse capable of withstanding the extreme conditions of the Arabian desert and covering long distances, while moving quickly in and out of battle. He was also a close companion of the desert Bedouins evolving a pleasant personality and an affinity for humans.
The traits that were bred into the Arabian through ancient times created a versatile horse that is not only a beautiful breed, but one that excels at many activities. Considered the best breed for distances, the Arabian’s superior endurance and stamina enable him to consistently win competitive trail and endurance rides.
The most popular activity with all horse owners is recreational riding–the Arabian horse is no exception. The loyal, willing nature of the Arabian breed suits itself as the perfect family horse. His affectionate personality also makes him a great horse for children.
In the show ring the Arabian is exceptional in English and Western pleasure competition. The Arabian is well known for his balance and agility. Combined with his high intelligence and skillful footwork, he is more than capable in driving and reining events. For speed, agility, and gracefulness, you’ll want an Arabian. Arabians compete in more than 400 All Arabian shows as well as in numerous open shows around the U.S. and Canada.
The Arabian, as the original racehorse, is becoming more and more popular competing at racetracks throughout the country. Arabians race distances similar to Thoroughbreds, with more than 700 all-Arabian races held throughout the U.S. annually.
One of the most beautiful of all riding breeds, the Arabian is not just a pretty horse. He is an all-around family horse, show horse, competitive sport horse and work horse.
The high intelligence, trainability, gentle disposition and stamina of the Arabian enable it to excel at a wide variety of activities popular today. Arabians are excellent on the trail as well as in the show ring. Show classes in English and western pleasure, cutting and reining, even jumping and dressage provide opportunities for fun and enjoyment at both all-Arabian events and open breed shows alike. As an endurance horse, the Arabian has no equal. The top prizes at endurance events almost always go to riders of Arabians. Arabian racing is another sport becoming more and more popular in recent years. In the past considered the “Sport of Kings,” Arabian racing is now enjoyed by racing enthusiasts at tracks across the country. In addition, the Arabians’ Bedouin heritage is evident in their unequaled ability to bond with humans, making them the perfect horse for family members of all ages.
*Aladdinn (the “*” means he was imported) was foaled in 1975 in Sweden, though he was a pure Polish lineage. He was bred by Eric Erlandson, who owned him when he earned his Swedish national champion stallion title in 1978. Dr. Eugene LaCroix of Lasma Arabians, imported him and syndicated him in February of 1980 after he was named U.S. National Champion Stallion in 1979. He was the first U.S. National Champion to also be named national champion of another country. *Aladdinn sired a lifetime total of 1,210 registered foals, the last born in 2000 when he was 31 years old. Of his get, 276 are champions and 71 are national winners. *Aladdinn is the only U.S. National Champion Stallion to sire four sons who won the same title.
*Bask++ (the “++” indicates a Legion of Merit and includes points in halter and performance)Forty-five years after his importation from Poland, he remains the only U.S. National Champion Stallion to also be a U.S. National Champion Park horse and he is the breed’s all-time leading sire of champions, national winners and national-winner producers. When *Bask’s importer, Dr. Eugene LaCroix first saw him in the fall of 1962 at the Janow Podlawki Stud, *Bask was just off a moderate four-year career at the racetrack and was for sale because the Poles did not want him for their breeding program.
Khemosabi++++// was foaled in 1967 and bred by small breeders Dr. Bert and Ruth Husband of Whittier, Calif. He was American breeding at its finest. Named after Tonto’s nickname for the Lone Ranger, meaning “faithful friend.” His show career spanned from 1968-1976, in both halter and performance, mainly in western pleasure, but also in harness. He had eight national wins over six years in halter and Western Pleasure and was syndicated in 1988. Khemosabi was cast in a tongue-in-cheek comic titled: The Exciting Adventures of Khemosabi, Superhorse of the 70s, which was illustrated by Hanna-Barbara and cartoon animator Karen Haus-Grandpre. According to AHA’s database, Khemosabi sired 1,264 purebreds and 14 Half-Arabians. He earned AHA’s lifetime achievement award, the Legion of Masters and was named the 2000 Arabian Sire of the Year by the American Horse Show Association. A Breyer Horse was modeled after him.