The Arabian Horse
The Arabian Horse is definitely the oldest pure breed in the World. Arabian horses have been bred along pure lines in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa for at least 1000 years.
The Arabs were not the first to domesticate the horse but they were the first to carry out selective and planned breeding.
The Arabian Horse today shows features which can be directly related to its early development. Horses first appeared in Egyptian art around 1600 BC. They were shown as having arched necks and prancing in a spirited way. the Egyptians worshipped them and treated them with great devotion. Special horse were even mummified. From these early times the grace and beauty of The Arabian came to be valued.
All over the Arab World horses became status symbols for the rich and powerful. They were very scarce due to all the obvious problems of raising horses in the desert but Royal and wealthy people took breeding seriously all the same.
Mahomet used horse to great effect in his Holy Wars. They proved faster and more manoeuvrable than camels.
It was Mahomet who directed that horses should be bred by the faithful (Moslems) so that they would be better prepared to gallop out and spread the Faith of Islam. The Order from the Prophet, enshrined in the Koran meant that horse breeding began to spread among the Bedouin and the true Arabian breed began.
The Bedouin had to raise their horses under the most difficult conditions. They were poor but driven on by religious belief. They had no crops to speak of and rather unreliable water supplies.
Horses were raised on Barley, Dates and Camel's milk. Under these awkward conditions the Bedouin took care to breed only the best possible horses. The Bedouin's horses were part of their families. They ate their food and lived in their tents. Arabian horses are still animals which enjoy and seek human company.
The Arabian is also a willing and obedient servant. The legend goes that an ancient Arabian King taught a fine group of desert horses selected from far and wide to come to him at the blow of a horn. After thus teaching them, he kept the whole group away from water for two days and two nights until they were frantic with thirst. He then released them allowing them free to go to water and before they reached it, he blew his horn. Five mares dutifully returned to their master, overcoming their desire for water. These mares formed the five main strains of Arabian breed and were known as Al Khamsa (the five). They have passed their temperament on to future generations.
The Bedouins use of their horses in desert warfare meant that they had to develop horses with great speed, stamina and strength. They had to be tough enough to keep going all dayin the heat. Modern Arabians still possess these features and the strong hooves which they needed to carry on this heavy work without shoes. Amongst their other prepotent characteristics Arabians have fine coats and silky manes and tails. Working in the desert would obviously have been easier without thick matted hair.
Either directly or indirectly, the Arabian contributed to the formation of virtually all the modern breeds of light horse.
General Appearance and Impression
A unique combination of beauty and utility, the typical Arabian is a symmetrical saddle horse combining strength and elegance - wwith a bright, alert outlook and great pride of bearing. The sharply defined facial features, the thin skin with its silken, irredescent coat, the fine hair of the mane and tail and the hard clean legs with their exceptionally clean cut tendons and joints , are characteristicall Arabian features associated with a quality of the highest degree.
The movements give an impression of lightness, agility and grace, associated with a free, ground covering stride and great impulsion. there is no standard height, however the usual range is from 14-1 hands to 15-1 hands.
Hearing and sight are acute. Highly intelligent with a unique temperament combining spirit and courage with tractability and exceptional affinity for humans, the Arabian likes to please, but resents abuse.
The Arabian, with its outstanding soundness of wind, limb and constitution is renowned for an endurance capacity far abov the average and likewise for its prepotency, fertility and longevity.