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Arabian history

Arabians are one of the oldest breeds, if not the oldest breed, in the world. Horses with oriental characteristics similar to the modern Arabian horse appeared in rock paintings and inscriptions in the Arabian Peninsula as far back as 2,500 B.C. Likewise, horses with refined heads and high-carried tails were depicted in artwork throughout the Ancient Near East.

Desert origins
There are different theories about where the wild ancestor of the Arabian horse originally lived. Some suggest the horse came from the area along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent. Others argue for the southwestern corner of Arabia, where three now-dry riverbeds in this area suggest good natural pastures existed long ago.

The Arabian prototype was originally tamed by the tribes of the Arabian peninsula known today as the Bedouin, probably domesticated [6] shortly after the Bedouin learned to use the camel

Gladys Brown Edwards, a noted scholar of the Arabian horse, theorized that the Arabian came from a separate subspecies of horse, Equus agillis. However, other scholars believe that the "dry" oriental horse of the desert from which the modern Arabian developed was one of four basic subtypes of Equus caballus that developed specific characteristics based on the environments in which they lived. Other oriental-type breeds with similar physical characteristics include the Barb of North Africa and the Akhal-Teke of western Asia.

The desert environment produced a horse that had to cooperate with humans to survive. Weak individuals were weeded out of the breeding pool, and the animals that remained were honed by centuries of human warfare.

Likewise, humans needed horses: Arabians were bred by the nomadic Bedouin people as a warhorse with speed, endurance, soundness, and intelligence. A good disposition was also critical; prized war mares were often brought inside family tents to prevent theft or for protection from predators. The desert horse needed to thrive on very little food, and possess anatomical traits to compensate for life in a dry climate with temperature extremes from day to night. Though appearance alone was not a survival factor, the Bedouin prized refinement and beauty in their horses and bred for it as well as for more practical features.

As the Arabian horse developed, the Bedouin began to carefully track the ancestry of each horse through an oral history tradition. The first written pedigrees in the middle east that specifically used the term "Arabian" date to 1330 A.D. Horses of the purest blood were known as Asil and crossbreeding with non-Asil horses was forbidden. Mares were the most valued, both for riding and breeding, and pedigree families were traced through the female line. The Bedouin did not believe in gelding male horses, thus most stallions were sold to city-dwellers.

Over time, the Bedouin developed several sub-types, or strains of Arabian horse, each with unique characteristics. According to the Arabian Horse Association, the five primary strains were known as the Keheilan, Seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani and Hadban. There were also several lesser strains and sub-strains and some regional variations in names. Many Arabian horses were not only Asil, of pure blood, but also bred to be pure in strain as well, with crossbreeding between strains discouraged, though not forbidden, by some tribes.

This complex web of bloodline and strain was an integral part of Bedouin culture. Tribes people knew the pedigrees and history of the best war mares as well as their own family or tribal history.

The Arabian horse in the ancient world Fiery warhorses with dished faces and high-carried tails were popular artistic subjects in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, often depicted pulling chariots in war or for hunting. Horses with oriental characteristics appear in artwork as far north as that of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Bucephalus, the high-spirited war horse of Alexander the Great may have been an Arabian, though this claim is disputed.

Arabian horses in the Islamic world following the Hegira or Hijra in A.D. 622, the Arabian horse became intertwined with the history of Islam. Around A.D. 630, Muslim influence had begun to expand across the Middle East and North Africa. By 711, Muslim warriors had reached Spain, and controlled most of the Iberian peninsula by 720. The mounts of these Islamic invaders were of various oriental types, including Arabians and Barbs. The invaders' horses, crossed on heavier European breeds, created the Andalusian and other Iberian horses. The Conquistadors brought their Iberian horses, Arabians, and Barbs with them when they came to the "New World" of the Americas.

Battle of Higueruela, 1431. Spanish fighting the forces of Sultan Muhammed IX of GranadaMuslim invaders reached as far north as France, where they were stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. Arabian and other oriental horses captured in the wake of this defeat were crossed with local horses, adding agility to the heavier animals, and leading to the development of the Percheron breed. The Ottoman Empire rose in 1299, and came to control much of the Middle East, though it never fully dominated the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Nonetheless, this Turkish empire obtained many Arabian horses through trade and war, and through the Ottomans, many of these horses found their way to Europe.

Arabian horses in Europe. Muslim invasions were not the only source of Arabians in Europe. During the Crusades, beginning in 1095, European armies invaded Palestine and many returned home with Arabian horses as spoils of war.

Beginning in the 15th century, the development of firearms made Knights and the heavy, armored war horses who carried them obsolete. Arabians were used to develop faster, agile cavalry horses that were used on battlefields into the 20th century.

One major infusion of Arabian horses into Europe occurred in 1522 when the Ottoman Turks sent 300,000 horsemen into Hungary. Many Turks were mounted on pure-blooded Arabians captured during raids into Arabia. By 1529, the Ottomans had reached Vienna, where they were stopped by the Polish and Hungarian armies, who captured Arabians from the defeated Ottoman cavalry. These horses provided foundation stock for the major studs of eastern Europe.

Eustachy Sanguszko (1768-1844), as painted by Juliusz KossakThe stamina and agility of horses with Arabian blood gave an enormous military advantage to any cavalry who possessed them. Thus, many European monarchs began to support large breeding establishments that crossed Arabians on local stock. One example was the Imperial Russian Stud of Peter the Great, and another was Knyszyna, the royal stud of Polish king Zygmunt II August.

Royal support led European horse breeders to seek out additional Arabian stock directly from the desert. Notable imports from Arabia included those of Prince Hieronymous Sanguszko (1743-1812) of Poland. Count Alexey Orlov of Russia also obtained many Arabians, including Smetanka, an Arabian stallion who was a foundation sire of the Orlov Trotter. Orlov also provided Arabian horses to Catherine the Great, who in 1772 owned 12 pure Arabian stallions and 10 mares.

The Darley ArabianMany more Arabian breeding operations were established. The Babolna Stud of Hungary was set up in 1789. By 1850, major Arabian studs included Weil in Germany; Antoniny, owned by the Polish Count Potocki (who had married into the Sanguszko family), and Poland's first state-run Arabian stud farm, Janow Podlaski, established by the decree of Alexander I of Russia. Arabians were also introduced into European racehorse breeding, most notably via the Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk, and Godolphin Arabian, the three foundation stallions of the modern Thoroughbred breed, who were brought to England in the 1700s.

The rise of the modern Arabian.
Perhaps the most famous of all Arabian breeding operations founded in Europe, with the most profound impact on the modern Arabian horse, was the Crabbet Park Stud of England.

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and Lady Anne Blunt journeyed to Egypt, the Nejd, and throughout the Middle East starting in 1877, importing the best Arabians they could find to England. Lady Anne simultaneously maintained the Sheykh Obeyd stud farm in Egypt, exporting the best stock to Crabbet Park. Upon Lady Anne's death in 1917, the Blunt's daughter and heir, Judith, Lady Wentworth, ran the Crabbet Stud, exporting Arabian horses worldwide. Upon Lady Wentworth's death in 1957, the stud passed to her manager, Cecil Covey, who ran Crabbet until 1971, when a freeway was cut through the property, forcing the sale of the land and dispersal of the horses.

Arabians in Modern Egypt
The government of Egypt formed the Royal Agricultural Society in 1908. Other than a group of horses purchased by Henry Babson for importation to the United States in the 1930's, relatively few Egyptian-bred Arabian horses were exported until the overthrow of King Farouk I in 1952. Then, in the 1950s and 1960s, more Arabian horses were exported, notably to the former Soviet Union, then an ally of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Egyptians also sold some Arabian horses to breeders in Germany and the United States. Egyptian-bred Arabians were exported in increasing numbers to the west following the death of Nasser in 1970. Today, the designation "Straight Egyptian" is very popular with some Arabian breeders, and the distinct look of the Egyptian-bred Arabian is an outcross used to add refinement in some breeding programs.

20th Century Warfare and its impact on the Arabian
Following the end of World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the historic European stud farms that survived the war re-established their breeding operations and added to their studs with new imports of desert-bred Arabian horses. Notable among these was the Janow Podlaski Stud of Poland, the Veruga Stud of Spain, and the Tersk Stud of the then-Soviet Union.

World War II also had a devastating impact on horse breeding throughout Europe, though studs such as Crabbet Park and Janow Podlaski survived. In addition, both the Soviet Union (now Russia) as well as the United States obtained valuable Arabian bloodlines as spoils of war, which they used to strengthened their breeding programs at the Soviet Union's Tersk Stud, and the Kellogg U.S. Army Remount station, the former W.K. Kellogg Ranch in California.

In the postwar era, nations such as Spain, The Netherlands, Sweden and Germany developed or re-established many well-respected Arabian stud farms. Poland and Russia became particularly world-renowned for their quality Arabian horses, which were tested rigorously by racing and other performance standards.

Arabians in the Post-Cold War Era
While only a few Arabians were exported from behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, the horses who did come to the west caught the eye of breeders worldwide. Steadily improving relations between eastern Europe and the west led to increased imports of Polish and Russian-bred Arabian horses to western Europe and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. The collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1989, greater political stability in Egypt, and the rise of the European Union all contributed to an international trade in Arabian horses. The increased sophistication of organizations such as the World Arabian Horse Association (WAHO) created consistent standards for transferring the registration of Arabian horses between different nations. Thus today, it is much easier for Arabian horses to be traded all over the world.

The Arabian horse in America
Coronado Sets out to the North. Frederic Remington, 1861-1909.The first horses in the American mainland since the end of the Ice Age arrived with the Spanish Conquistadors. Hernán Cortés brought 16 Andalusian and Arabian horses with him to Mexico in 1519. Others followed, such as Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who brought 250 horses to America in 1540. Many horses escaped, becoming the foundation stock of the Mustang. American colonists from England also brought horses of Arabian breeding to the eastern seaboard, such as Nathaniel Harrison, who imported a horse of Arabian, Barb and Turkish ancestry to America in 1747.

Washington Taking Control of the American Army, at Cambridge, Mass. July 1775. Copy of lithograph by Currier & Ives, 1876.George Washington rode a gray horse during the Revolutionary War that was a half-Arabian. The horse was sired by the stallion Ranger, also known as Lindsay's Arabian, said to have been obtained from the Sultan of Morocco. Other Presidents are linked to ownership of Arabian horses. In 1840, President Martin Van Buren received two Arabians from the Sultan of Oman, and in 1877, President Ulysses S. Grant obtained two Arabian stallions, Leopard and Linden Tree, as diplomatic gifts from the Sultan of Turkey.

A. Keene Richard was the first American to specifically breed Arabian horses. He traveled to the desert in 1853 and 1856 to obtain Arabians for breeding stock. Unfortunately, his horses were lost during the Civil War and have no known descendants today.

Leopard is the only one of the early Arabian imports who left purebred descendants in America. Randolph Huntington imported the desert-bred Arabian mare *Naomi in 1888, and bred her to Leopard, producing Leopard's only purebred Arabian son, Anazeh. Anazeh sired eight purebred Arabian foals, and four of them still appear in pedigrees today. Leopard is also considered a foundation sire in the Appaloosa breed.

In 1893, the World Fair in Chicago exhibited 45 Arabian horses, some of whom remained in the United States. Breeders in America became interested in these Arabians and traveled abroad to obtain more. As a result, the Arabian Horse Registry of America was established in 1908, recording 71 animals. By 1994, the number had reached half a million. There are now more Arabians registered in North America than in the rest of the world put together.

Major Arabian importations to the United States from the Middle East and from European studs were made by breeders such as Homer Davenport and Peter Hingham of the Hingham Stock Farm, who purchased several stallions and mares directly from the Bedouin tribes and imported them to America in 1906; Spencer Borden of the Interlachen Stud, who made several importations between 1898 and 1911; and W.R. Brown of the Maynesboro Stud, who had a particular interest in the Arabian as a cavalry mount and imported many Arabians starting in 1918. Another wave of imports came in the 1920s and 30s when breeders such as W.K. Kellogg, Henry Babson, Roger Selby, James Draper, and others imported Arabian bloodstock from Crabbet Park Stud in England, as well as from Poland, Spain and Egypt. Several Arabians, mostly of Polish breeding, were captured from Nazi Germany and imported to the U.S.A. following World War II. As the tensions of the Cold War eased, more Arabians were imported to America from Poland. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as political issues were resolved surrounding import regulations and the recognition of stud books, Arabian horses were also imported in greater numbers from Spain and Russia.

In the 1980s, popularity of the Arabian horse soared to unsustainable heights. Arabian horses became a popular status symbol for celebrities and other wealthy people, many of whom were inexperienced with horses and considered them "living art." Prices skyrocketed, especially in the United States, including a record-setting public auction price for a mare named NH Love Potion, who sold for $2.55 million in 1984, and the largest syndication in history for an Arabian stallion, *Padron, at $11,000,000. This led to over-breeding and inbreeding of the Arabian, especially an ultra-refined type that sometimes was not even trained for riding. When tax laws related to the horse industry changed in 1986, drastically curtailing the ability of horse farms to be used as tax shelters, the Arabian market was particularly vulnerable due to over-saturation and artificially inflated prices, and thus the market collapsed, forcing many breeders into bankruptcy. The Arabian market recovered slowly, with modern breeders moving away from producing "living art" towards a quieter, athletic horse, producing horses suitable for amateur owners in many different riding disciplines.

Arabians today
The Arabian is among the top ten most popular horse breeds in the world, found in nations including the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, throughout Europe and the Middle East. Arabians today are also found in South America where they have become particularly popular in rapidly-developing nations such as Brazil.

Arabian horses are no longer classified by strain, but instead are informally classified by the nation of origin of famed horses in a given pedigree. Popular types of Arabians are labeled "Polish," "Spanish," "Crabbet," "Russian," "Egyptian" and "Domestic" (describing horses whose ancestors were imported to the United States prior to World War II). In the USA, a specific mixture of Crabbet, Maynesboro and Kellogg bloodlines has acquired the copyrighted designation "CMK."

Each set of bloodlines has its own devoted followers, with the virtues of each hotly debated within the industry. Most debates are between those who value the Arabian most for its refined beauty and those who value the horse for its stamina and athleticism.

Complete List
Aegidienberger Akhal Teke Albanian Altai Alter Real
American Cream Draft American Creme and White American Paint Horse American Quarter Horse American Saddlebred
American Walking Pony Andalusian Andravida Anglo-Arabian Anglo-Kabarda
Appaloosa Appendix Araappaloosa Arabian Ardennes
Argentine Criollo Ariegeois Asturian Australian Brumby Australian Stock Horse
Avelignese Pony Azteca Balearic Bali Pony Baluchi
Banker Ban-ei Barb Bardigiano Pony Bashkir
Bashkir Curly Basotho Pony / Basuto Pony Basque Pony Batak Pony Belgian
Bhotia Pony Black Forest Boer Bosnian Pony Boulonnais
Brandenburg Breton Brumby Buckskin Budyonny
Burmese Pony Byelorussian Harness Camargue Campolina Canadian
Carpathian Pony Carthusian Caspian horse Cayuse Cheju
Chilean Corralero Chincoteague Pony Chinese Guoxia Cleveland Bay Clydesdale
Colorado Ranger Horse Connemara Pony Criollo (Uruguay) Crioulo Dales Pony
Danube Dartmoor Pony Deliboz Dole Trotter or Dole Gudbrandsdal Don, Russian Don
Dongola Dülmen Pony Dutch Draft Dutch Warmblood Egyptian
Eriskay Pony Estonian Native Exmoor Pony Falabella Fell Pony
Finnhorse Finnish Fjord horse Florida Cracker Frederiksborg
French Trotter Friesian Galician Pony Galiceno Garrano
Gelderlander Gidran Gotland Pony Groningen Gypsy Vanner horse
Hackney Hackney pony Haflinger Hanoverian Highland Pony
Hokkaido Holsteiner Hucul pony Iberian, encompassing the Andalusian, Alter Real, Lusitano and crosses Icelandic
Irish Draught Irish Horse Java Pony Jutland Kabardian or Kabardin
Karabair Karabakh Kathiawari Kazakh Pony Kentucky Mountain Saddle Horse
Kiger Mustang Kiso Kladruber Knabstrup Konik
Kustanair Landais Pony Latvian Harness Horse (Standard and Light Type) Lithuanian Heavy Draft Lipizzan / Lippizzaner
Lusitano Mangalarga / Mangalarga Marchador Manipuri Pony Marwari Maremmana
Misaki Missouri Fox Trotting Horse / Missouri Foxtrotter Miyako Mongolian Morab
Morgan Moyle Mule Mustang Murgese
National Show Horse New Forest Pony New Kirgiz Newfoundland Pony Noma
Noma pony Nonius Horse Nooitgedacht Pony Noriker Noric
Northlands Pony Norwegian Fjord Ob Oldenburg Orlov Trotter
Padang Pony Paint Paso Fino Percheron Peruvian Paso
Pindos Pony Pinia Pintabian Pinto Pleven
Poitevin Polish Konik Pony of the Americas Pottok Przewalski
Pyrenean Tarpan Quarab Quarter Horse Quarter Pony Racking Horse
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
Tokara Tori Trakehner Ukrainian Saddle Vladimir Heavy Draft
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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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Arabian".
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