The origins of the Arabian breed are unclear, although some historians say they trace their roots back 4,500 years when they were bred by the Bedouins as war mounts for the desert tribes of the southwestern Arabian Peninsula. Existing and being ridden in harsh desert conditions was responsible for developing the Arabian’s large lung capacity, tough feet and incredible endurance.
In the 7th century A.D., he prophet Mohammed spread the Arabian’s influence instructing his followers to treat them with kindness, especially the mares to ensure the continuity of the breed.
When the Christian Crusaders returned from the East between 1099-1249 A.D. with stories of these beautiful, handy, light and speedy horses, interest in the Arabian horses grew and people of the Western world began to seek Arabian bloodstock. Three history-changing Arabian stallions were imported to England between 1683-1730 ‒ the Byerly Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian. The trio became the foundation for the Thoroughbred breed.
Historical figures like Alexander The Great, Genghis Khan, and George Washington all rode and seem to have preferred Arabian horses. Marengo, Napolean’s horse was a white Arabian stallion. But the first of the breed memorialized in motion pictures was Jaadan, the little white Arabian that Rudolf Valentino rode in his 1926 movie Son of a Sheik. This exotic animal increased the demand for Arabians across North America, but Jaadan himself was an inconspicuous sire and didn’t produce any quality offspring.
Arabian horses feature refined, chiseled heads with a dished profile, large nostrils, wide-spaced and large eyes, long arching neck, a short, straight back (with one less vertebra than other breeds), a deep chest, high tail carriage, strong legs and tough, hard hooves. Agile and graceful, Arabians move with a signature “floating” trot.
Arabians typically stand between 14.1-15.2 hands. They are highly intelligent, responsive, affectionate, courageous and spirited. Colours include bay, gray, chestnut, black, and roan.
Arabians perform well in different events such as English and western pleasure, dressage, lower-level jumping and in-hand showing. They also do well in both racing and recreational riding. However, their superior endurance and stamina make them exceptional competitive trail and endurance ride mounts.
For more information: