Arabian Horses are believed to be the oldest of horse breeds. They have a noble, majestic carriage that makes them distinctive in the horse world, including a finely chiseled bone structure, high tail and arched neck. Nearly every modern breed of riding horse has some type of Arabian bloodline.
Arabians remain popular horses for racing, for riding long distances, and simply for admiring at horse shows. Here are some more details on this incredible and incredibly popular breed of horse.
Arabian Horses date back thousands of years to the Bedouin tribe, a nomadic group who lived in Arabia and kept horses as both workers and companions. They considered them noble beasts and treated them extremely well, sharing their food, water and shelter with the horses.
It wasn’t until the Crusades began that the Arabian Horse began to migrate to Europe and beyond. European fighters returned to their homes with horses as one of the spoils of war. Europeans subsequently cross-bred the animals with their horses, which were much heavier than the Arabians. Later these lightened-up horses were used in European cavalry to engage in warfare during the 20th century.
In 1725 the Arabian Horse came to America, with Nathan Harrison importing them to Virginia. But they soon became hugely popular in the United States, including in New York, Ohio, parts of the West and Southwest, and New England. In fact, the U.S. now boasts more Arabian Horses than all the other countries in the world combined.
Arabian horses have incredible stamina, and they’re ideal for long rides in difficult conditions. They measure 14 to 15.3 hands high and come in a variety of colors, including chestnut, black, bay, gray and roan. They’re also capable of carrying very heavy riders.
In ancient times, the Bedouins bred their Arabians carefully, allowing only those with the best of dispositions to reproduce. This has led to a very even temperament among today’s horses, which are also known for being very intelligent compared to other breeds. There are, however, six genetic disorders among Arabians, two of which can be fatal.
Folklore and Legends
As you’d expect for a breed that’s been around for more than 4,500 years, there are a lot of legends and stories surrounding Arabian Horses. The prophet Muhammad was said to have chosen five Arabian horses as his foundation mares, and the Bedouins claimed that all Arabians were descended from those mighty beasts.
Another legend claims that the Arabian Horses were descendants of a mare owned by King Solomon, and yet another credits Ishmael, Abraham’s son, with starting the breed. Finally, another story credits Allah with creating the Arabian horse from wind.