History cannot tell us when men first used Arabian horses for working and riding, but researchers suggest it has been at least 4,000 years since then. The breed was most likely created in the middle east, living with nomads who shared everything with them— food, water, and even tents. This is believed to be the beginning of their unusually keen intelligence and close affinity to man. The breed has remained relatively unchanged over the centuries, except that early Arabians were slightly smaller than their modern cousins. Arabians were found to be so beautiful and special that many groups of early man had near obsessions with preserving the exact anatomy of the breed. Over centuries, the Bedouin tribes “zealously maintained the purity of the breed” and the prophet Mohammed even “instructed his followers to look after Arabians and treat them with kindness.” This had a huge influence on the spread of Arabians throughout the world and is still considered an integral part of Arabian popularity. As mankind developed, Arabians were found to be exceptional for war, endurance, showing, racing, jumping, and companionship. Today, these horses are an American favorite for their gentle and loving personalities as well as their beauty and grace, making them the most popular breed in the world.
Click on the parts of the horse drawing to learn about what makes Arabians unique.
Unlike most other breeds, Arabians have slow-twitch muscle fibers instead of fast-twitch muscle fibers. This helps them use oxygen more efficiently. They also have exceptionally large, flexible lungs. These attributes make them incredible endurance horses.
The legs of Arabians are stronger and more dense than most breeds thanks to their particularly tough bone composition. This makes Arabians less prone to injury.
Arabian horses come in four main colors: bay, black, chestnut, or gray. However, all Arabian horses have tough black skin to protect them from the desert sun. This can give their less fur-dense areas (faces and legs) a slightly darker hue.
Adult Arabian horses normally weigh around 1,000 pounds, which is lower than average. Many breeds weigh between 1,500 and 2,000 on average. Less weight makes it easier for Arabians to travel faster over long distances.
An Arabian's croup is comparatively long and level, which allows for a more speedy and flexible gallop. The croup of a horse is the area extending from the hip along the topline of the hindquarters to the top of the tail.
Arabian horses usually stand between 14 and 15 hands (57-61 inches) tall, which is quite short compared to most breeds. This makes riding Arabians feel more sturdy and safe.
Arabian horses are ideal for competing in famous 100-mile races, with the fastest horse completing the race in less than 10 hours. Cavalry mounts were expected to travel at least 300 miles over just 5 days.
It is common for Arabians to have a "short back," meaning they have five lumbar vertebrae instead of the usual 6. This also causes the horse to have 17 pairs of ribs instead of 18.
Arabians are praised for being intelligent, courageous, people-oriented and of good temperment. Some people believe that Arabian horses are more in tune with their owners than any other animal species.
Arabians have naturally long, arched necks with high withers, giving them a regal look. Achieving a "round neck" in other breeds can take months or years of training.
A clean or "tight" throat-latch makes Arabian horses more suited for bridle and makes turning their heads easier. This helps them make more flexible, sharper turns for riders.
The most famous and defining feature of the Arabian horse is its "pretty head." It is relatively small and slightly concave. Arabians have large, expressive dark eyes, wide nostrils, small muzzles, and finely chiseled facial bones.
Typically Arabians have small ears with tips curved slightly inward. This slight deviation from normal ears is considered elegant and charming.
Arabians have strong bones that make for good hoof walls. Hoof walls act as a protective shield for sensitive interal tissues. Arabian hooves are less likely to aquire painful cracks and dents.
One of the most noticible features of the Arabian is the high tail carriage, which helps keep their tails clean. One possibility for this unusual trait is that Arabians have one less bone in their tail than other breeds.
While the Arabian horse is popular throughout the world, this breed is found with exceptional abundance in the United States. This is because breeding and selling Arabians is a multimillion dollar industry, fueled by American’s endless fascination with the “exotic novelty” of the breed. A well-bred and trained Arabian may sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes even millions. The United States has the space, weather, and enthusiasm required to best care for Arabian horses, making it the most Arabian-dense area in the world.