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Arabian basic information

Arabian horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, with a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils and small, refined muzzles. Most display a distinctive profile that is concave, sometimes referred to as "dished." Many Arabians also have a slight bulge between their eyes, called the "jibbah" by the Bedouin, that added additional sinus capacity to help the Arabian horse cope with its native dry desert climate.

High-quality Arabians also have an arched neck with a large, well-set windpipe set on a fine clean throatlatch, which helps the horse breathe easily and allows greater endurance. The refined structure of the poll and throatlatch was called the "mitbah" by the Bedouin, and in the best Arabians is long and somewhat straight, allowing flexibility in the bridle and ample room for the windpipe.


This Arabian stallion exhibits the breed's "dish-faced" profile, arched neck and high-carried tail. foto: Hanka ?ertíkAnother breed characteristic is a compact body with a short back. Many, though not all, Arabians have 5 lumbar vertebrae instead of the usual 6. [1] Thus, in spite of their smaller size, Arabians can carry a heavy rider with ease. Other distinctive features are a relatively long, level croup and naturally high tail carriage.
Arabians are not large horses. The breed standard as stated by the United States Equestrian Federation describes the Arabians as standing between 14.1 and 15.1 hands tall, "with the occasional individual over or under." [2] Because many horse owners prefer larger animals, the Arabian has been bred for increased height, and many Arabians today are over 15 hands. However, they are always referred to as horses, not ponies, whatever their height.

The Arabian Horse Association recognizes purebred horses with the coat colors bay, gray, chestnut, black and roan.

Although many Arabians appear "white," this is the natural action of the gray gene. Gray horses are born bay, black or chestnut, then get progressively lighter as they age, until their hair coat eventually turns pure white or becomes "flea-bitten." Their skin is black and remains so throughout their life. Therefore, all "white" Arabians are actually grays.

Black Arabians are somewhat rare. One reason is that the black gene is genetically suppressed by the more dominant Agouti gene that creates the black points of a bay horse. Some breeding farms now use DNA testing to breed black Arabians.

Purebred Arabians never carry the dun gene, nor the cremello and perlino dilution genes found in many so-called "white" horses, nor do they carry any "lethal white" genes. (No living horse of any breed can be a true Albino, it is a lethal gene.) Because they do not carry any dilution genes, purebred Arabians are also never palomino or buckskin. They also do not possess genes for any spotting patterns, such as pinto or appaloosa, with the exception of the sabino gene (or gene-complex.) Therefore, people sometimes crossbreed to produce half-Arabians with spotted, dun or dilute colors.

While most breeders agree with the adage, "a good horse is never a bad color," scholars of the Arabian horse have heated debates over the cultural value the Bedouin placed upon various colors. For example, there is debate over whether the Bedouin considered black Arabians to be a bad omen or a rare treasure. Another debate surrounds white spotting patterns, which were thought by some to be a sign of "impure" blood. Until the development of DNA testing to verify parentage, an Arabian foal with blatant body spots or excessive white markings could not be registered. But it is now known that the Sabino color pattern does exist in purebred Arabians. (Sabino refers to "high white," small body spots, and possibly roaning over an underlying dark color, and should not be confused with a "flea-bitten" gray, which is a gray horse whose white hair coat also contains small red flecks.)

There is scientific debate over whether roan Arabians actually exist. There are few Arabians registered as "roan," and fewer, if any, have been DNA tested for the roan gene. Some geneticists suggest that roaning patterns on purebred Arabians are actually the action of the sabino or the rabicano genes. Also, some people confuse a young grey horse with a roan because of the intermixed hair colors common to both. However, a roan does not change color with age, while a gray does.

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Morgan Moyle Mule Mustang Murgese
National Show Horse New Forest Pony New Kirgiz Newfoundland Pony Noma
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Poitevin Polish Konik Pony of the Americas Pottok Przewalski
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Rocky Mountain Horse Russian Don Russian Heavy Draft Russian Trotter Sable Island Pony
Saddlebred Salerno Sandalwood Pony Sanhe Schleswiger Heavy Draft
Schwarzwälder Fuchs Selle Francais Shagya / Shagya Arabian Shetland Pony Shire
Single-Footing Horse Skyros Pony Somali Pony Sorraia Soviet Heavy Draft
Spanish Mustang Spanish-Barb Spanish-Norman Spiti Pony Spotted Saddle horse
Standardbred Sudan Country-Bred Suffolk / Suffolk Punch Sumba and Sumbawa Pony Swedish Ardennes
Swedish Warmblood Shagya Taishuh Tarpan Tawleed
Tennessee Walking Horse Tersky Thoroughbred Tiger Horse Timor Pony
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Viatka Vyatka Waler Walkaloosa Welara Pony
Welsh Pony and Cob Welsh mountain pony (Section A) Welsh Cob (Section D) Wielkopolski Xilingol
Yakut Yili Yonaguni Zebra Zemaituka (Zhumd)
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