Arabians are a breed of horse as old as water and as loved as the sun. To look at one is to look at equine perfection, to work with one is to know a playful, intelligent child, to ride one is to ride the wind up to the moon.
As their name indicates they originated in the Arabian countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They were bred for their stamina and heat-resistance. While the Arab breed as seen today was being devolved the weaker horses died, not from human interference, but from the desert conditions that the Arab horse needed to face. Over time a breed of horse that was intelligent, hardy, had great stamina and beauty was developed. Arabs are also known and were bred for their soundness and speed, and their general calmness. In times of battle or bad weather horses were often brought into the families' tents to stay safe.
The horses were used in war and alongside camels for travel in the desert. Mares were used more often in war as they could be trusted to not make noise. Stallions enjoy telling everyone else how great and magnificent they are. It seems the stallions got to stay home and have lots of sex. Not unlike lions in a pride.
The Arabian people became very protective of their horses, and refused to let anything other than the purest of strains of Arab equine breed with their mares. Mares were considered more valuable, for both riding and battles, and so bloodlines were traced through the mares and not the stallions. Males, though, were never gelded. They were either used for breeding, were sold or were killed if considered inferior.
However, this fear of impure blood has led to extreme disadvantages to the Arabian horse buyer today. Australian Arabs ("impure" Arabs) are quite often sold to Arabian countries because they need new genetics. I imagine that American and European Arab-breeders get to do the same thing. Inbreeding for hundreds of years is a very bad thing to do, and many modern-day "pure" Arabs cannot be used for endurance racing, for riding, for anything, really.
Thankfully many European countries established Arabian breeding lines, and these days you can get Polish Arabs, Egyptian Arabs and Australian Arabs. The Aussie Arabs came here during the settlement, since the vast distances and the extreme heat the horses had to suffer through were what they were bred for.
Other "versions" of the Arabian horse include the Anglo-Arab, which is a cross of the Arab and thoroughbred.
You cannot miss an Arab in a field of those less pure, more vile thoroughbreds or Andalusians. Arabs have a very distinct physical appearance. Their face appears dished, with large eyes and nostrils but a small muzzle. Their tail carriage is extremely high compared to most other horses, and they generally carry their head in a very arched position. The biological structure of their necks and heads allow for easy breathing during extreme exercise. They appear light-boned, but they are really stocky creatures hidden beneath silk and shine.
They are amazing creatures to work with. Their intelligence means they can learn something in a day, but they can also get incredibly bored and they always learn the wrong thing fastest. This can end up with a very frustrated owner, but it's hard to hate these horses for long. They aren't bred for jumping, but they still can. Many dressage people swear Arabs cannot manage to complete the more difficult movements. However, everything takes training and this doesn't mean they can't. Most dressage people are extremely prejudiced towards one or two breeds. However, it is important to note that Arabs can be seen in even the highest level of competition and purebreds have occasionally performed in Olympic Games. These horses can do pretty much anything.
Most often they are used for endurance racing, but really they can do most anything. This ranges from pleasure riding to western, to ten pegging and driving. In America the Arabian Horse Association hosts competitions that include hunter and jumping categories that are exclusively for Arabian horses.
Arabs are very friendly and warm natured. They like to please and are always, always easy to love. Of the Arabs I have experienced all of them would have broken themselves to make me happy. Everyone who loves horses should have an Arab at least once. Thoroughbreds are all good and well, but nothing is the same as an Arab.
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