Breed Profile: The Majestic Arabian Horse

Arabian Horse

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.

Origin Story

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.

Distinctive Characteristics

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.

What You Need to Know About the American Saddlebred

American Saddlebred

Not many animals are closely tied to a particular nation, but the American saddlebred is an exception, and not just because of its name.

The American saddlebred is the descendant of the Galloway and hobby horse, both of which were brought to the Americas in the 1600s. In the 1700s, these horses were bred with stallions from the Middle East to create the thoroughbred, and this became known as the American horse. The breed went on to become a standard mount in the American Revolution, so its history is intrinsically linked to the history of America.

American Saddlebred Basics

The American saddlebred stands out in large part because of its regal stance and aura of nobility. The horse stands between 15 and 16 hands high and comes in a variety of colors, including chestnut, gray and black. They have a small head resting on a long neck, and they carry their lithe bodies on a set of especially long legs.

In addition to providing a striking officer’s mount, their long features allow for a high gait, which makes them ideal show horses. They’re also as personable as they are physically distinguished; they get along well with other horses and with people, and they take instruction easily.

Caring for the American Saddlebred

Although the American saddlebred seems to be ideal for everything from shows to everyday riding, they also require a lot of attention and special care. Their diet, temperament and grooming needs can be time-consuming, but the results are worth it.

Food: Horses require lots of roughage and an open pasture is the best possible source. If a pasture isn’t available – for instance, if the horse is confined – then hay is the next best thing. However, the hay should be fresh and dry. Dusty hay or hay containing mold and/or water damage should never be fed to an American saddlebred.

Grooming: A shiny, healthy coat keeps the American saddlebred looking like a prize horse at all times. Check their coats every day for ticks and cuts, and check their hooves for pebbles and signs of infection. A good brushing keeps the coat shiny, while regular trimming of the mane and tail keeps them looking lean. For an even leaner look, let them run every day.

Temperament: While the American saddlebred is relatively even-tempered and friendly, it can also be sensitive to its surroundings. If you hire someone to handle gopher removal in the stable, for example, tell them to move slowly and not make any sudden movements. Also, avoid walking underneath their bellies; you don’t want to risk getting caught up in their startled reaction.

The American saddlebred is part of our proud national history, but even without the patriotic zeal it can still be a wonderful show horse and family friend.

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