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Arabian

Arabian


Additional
Arabian
Pictures
Breed Organization
Arabian Horse Association AHA
Website: http://www.arabianhorses.org
Native Country
See History Below
Other Names
Various Strains
Average Height
14.1 to 15.1h
Adult Weight
N/A
Rider Experience Level
It varies on level of training.

Breed Description
A beautiful, delicate head characterizes the Arabian, often with a "dished" or concave profile below large, prominent eyes; a high-set, arched neck; and a naturally high tail carriage. The back is short and straight; the withers are pronounced and long; the chest is muscular, deep and broad; the shoulders long and sloping; the legs muscular with broad strong joints and clearly defined tendons; and the hooves small with very tough horn, wide at the heel. These points of "type" give the Arabian its distinctive beauty. The ideal height for an Arabian is between 14.2 and 15 hands and may be chestnut, gray, bay, and black. White markings on the face and legs are common. The coat is fine and silky and the skin is invariably black. The mane and tail are full.

They are anatomically different from all other breeds of horse in that they have one less rib (17, as opposed to the usual 18), one less lumbar vertebra and one less tail bone than other horses.


History - Arabian Horse Association
Authorities are at odds about where the Arabian horse originated. The subject is hazardous, for archaeologists' spades and shifting sands of time are constantly unsettling previously established thinking. There are certain arguments for the ancestral Arabian having been a wild horse in northern Syria, southern Turkey and possibly the piedmont regions to the east as well. The area along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent comprising part of Iraq and running along the Euphrates and west across Sinai and along the coast to Egypt, offered a mild climate and enough rain to provide an ideal environment for horses. Other historians suggest this unique breed originated in the southwestern part of Arabia, offering supporting evidence that the three great river beds in this area provided natural wild pastures and were the centers in which Arabian horses appeared as undomesticated creatures to the early inhabitants of southwestern Arabia.

Because the interior of the Arabian peninsula has been dry for approximately 10,000 years, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for horses to exist in that arid land without the aid of man. The domestication of the camel in about 3500 B.C. provided the Bedouins (nomadic inhabitants of the middle east desert regions) with means of transport and sustenance needed to survive the perils of life in central Arabia, an area into which they ventured about 2500 B.C. At that time they took with them the prototype of the modern Arabian horse.

Neither sacred nor profane history tells us the country where the horse was first domesticated, or whether he was first used for work or riding. He probably was used for both purposes in very early times and in various parts of the world. We know that by 1500 B.C. the people of the east had obtained great mastery over their hot-blooded horses which were the forerunners of the breed which eventually became known as "Arabian."

About 3500 years ago the hot-blooded horse assumed the role of king-maker in the east, including the valley of the Nile and beyond, changing human history and the face of the world. Through him the Egyptians were made aware of the vast world beyond their own borders. The Pharaohs were able to extend the Egyptian empire by harnessing the horse to their chariots and relying on his power and courage. With his help, societies of such distant lands as the Indus Valley civilizations were united with Mesopotamian cultures. The empires of the Hurrians, Hittites, Kassites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and others rose and fell under his thundering hooves. His strength made possible the initial concepts of a cooperative universal society, such as the Roman empire. The Arabian "pony express" shrank space, accelerated communications and linked empires together throughout the eastern world.

This awe-inspiring horse of the east appears on seal rings, stone pillars and various monuments with regularity after the 16th century B.C. Egyptian hieroglyphics proclaim his value; Old Testament writings are filled with references to his might and strength. Other writings talk of the creation of the Arabian, "thou shallst fly without wings and conquer without swords." King Solomon some 900 years B.C. eulogized the beauty of "a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots," while in 490 B.C. the famous Greek horseman, Xinophon proclaimed: "A noble animal which exhibits itself in all its beauty is something so lovely and wonderful that it fascinates young and old alike." But whence came the "Arabian horse?" We have seen this same horse for many centuries before the word "Arab" was ever used or implied as a race of people or species of horse.

The origin of the word "Arab" is still obscure. A popular concept links the word with nomadism, connecting it with the Hebrew "Arabha," dark land or steppe land, also with the Hebrew "Erebh," mixed and hence organized as opposed to organized and ordered life of the sedentary communities, or with the root "Abhar"-to move or pass. "Arab" is a Semitic word meaning "desert" or the inhabitant thereof, with no reference to nationality. In the Koran a'rab is used for Bedouins (nomadic desert dwellers) and the first certain instance of its Biblical use as a proper name occurs in Jer. 25:24: "Kings of Arabia," Jeremiah having lived between 626 and 586 B.C. The Arabs themselves seem to have used the word at an early date to distinguish the Bedouin from the Arabic-speaking town dwellers.

This hot blooded horse which had flourished under the Semitic people of the east now reached its zenith of fame as the horse of the "Arabas." The Bedouin horse breeders were fanatic about keeping the blood of their desert steeds absolutely pure, and through line-breeding and inbreeding, celebrated strains evolved which were particularly prized for distinguishing characteristics and qualities.

The mare evolved as the Bedouin's most treasured possession. The harsh desert environment ensured that only the strongest and keenest horse survived, and it was responsible for many of the physical characteristics distinguishing the breed to this day.


Behavior
For centuries, Arabian horses lived in the desert in close association with humans. Prized war mares were sometimes kept in the family tent, along with small children. This gave rise to an inborn tendency of the horse to try to cooperate with and please humans. Because only horses with a naturally good disposition were allowed to breed on, Arabians today are one of the few breeds where the United States Equestrian Federation allows children to exhibit stallions in show ring classes limited to riders under 18.

On the other hand, the Arabian is also classified as a "hot-blooded" breed, a category that includes refined, spirited horses bred for speed, such as the Thoroughbred and the Barb. Like other hot-bloods, Arabians' sensitivity and intelligence enable quick learning and greater communication with their riders. However, their intelligence also allows them to learn bad habits as quickly as good ones. Because of this, they also can quickly lose trust in a poor rider and do not tolerate inept or abusive training practices.


Health
Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID): Recessive disorder, fatal when homozygous, carriers (heterozygotes) show no signs. Similar to the "bubble boy" condition in humans, an affected foal is born with a complete lack of an immune system, and thus generally dies of an opportunistic infection, usually before the age of three months. There is a DNA test that can detect healthy horses who are carriers of the gene causing SCID, thus testing and careful, planned matings can now eliminate the possibility of an affected foal ever being born.

Lavender Foal Syndrome (LFS): Also called Coat Color Dilution Lethal (CCDL). Recessive disorder, fatal when homozygous, carriers show no signs. The condition has its name because most affected foals are born with a coat color dilution that lightens the tips of the coat hairs, or even the entire hair shaft. Foals with LFS are unable to stand at birth, often have seizures, and are usually euthanized within a few days of birth.

Cerebellar abiotrophy (CA or CCA): Recessive disorder, homozygous horses are affected, carriers show no signs. An affected foal is usually born without clinical signs, but at some stage, usually after six weeks of age, develops severe incoordination, a head tremor, wide-legged stance and other symptoms related to the death of the purkinje cells in the cerebellum. Such foals are frequently diagnosed only after they have crashed into a fence or fallen over backwards, and often are misdiagnosed as suffering from a head injury caused by an accident. Severity varies, with some foals having fast onset of severe coordination problems, others showing milder signs. Mildly affected horses can live a full lifespan, but most are euthanized before adulthood because they are so accident-prone as to be dangerous. As of 2008, there is a genetic test that uses DNA markers associated with CA to detect both carriers and affected animals. Clinical signs are distinguishable from other neurological conditions, and a diagnosis of CA can be verified by examining the brain after euthanasia.

Occipital Atlanto-Axial Malformation (OAAM): This is a condition where the occiput, atlas and axis vertebrae in the neck and at the base of the skull are fused or malformed. Symptoms range from mild incoordination to the paralysis of both front and rear legs. Some affected foals cannot stand to nurse, in others the symptoms may not be seen for several weeks. This is the only cervical spinal cord disease seen in horses less than 1 month of age, and a radiograph can diagnose the condition. There is no genetic test for OAAM, and the hereditary component of this condition is not well researched at present.

Equine juvenile epilepsy, or Juvenile Idiopathic Epilepsy: Sometimes referred to as "benign" epilepsy, is not usually fatal. Foals appear normal between epileptic seizures, and seizures usually stop occurring between 12 and 18 months. Affected foals may show signs of epilepsy anywhere from two days to six months from birth. Seizures can be treated with traditional anti-seizure medications, which may reduce their severity. Though the condition has been studied since 1985 at the University of California, Davis, the genetic mode of inheritance is unclear, though the cases studied were all of one general bloodline group. Recent research updates suggest that a dominant mode of inheritance is involved in transmission of this trait. One researcher hypothesized that epilepsy may be linked in some fashion to Lavender Foal Syndrome due to the fact that it occurs in similar bloodlines and some horses have produced foals with both conditions.

Guttural Pouch Tympany (GPT): Occurs in horses ranging from birth to 1 year of age and is more common in fillies than in colts. It is thought to be genetic in Arabians, possibly polygenic in inheritance, but more study is needed. Foals are born with a defect that causes the pharyngeal opening of the eustachian tube to act like a one-way valve – air can get in, but it cannot get out. The affected guttural pouch is distended with air and forms a characteristic nonpainful swelling. Breathing is noisy in severely affected animals. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and radiographic examination of the skull. Medical management with NSAID and antimicrobial therapy can treat upper respiratory tract inflammation. Surgical intervention is needed to correct the malformation of the guttural pouch opening, to provide a route for air in the abnormal guttural pouch to pass to the normal side and be expelled into the pharynx. Foals that are successfully treated may grow up to have fully useful lives.


Function
Arabians are versatile horses that compete in many equestrian fields, including horse racing, the horse show disciplines of saddle seat, Western pleasure, and hunt seat, as well as dressage, cutting, reining, endurance riding, show jumping, eventing, youth events such as equitation, and others. They are used as pleasure riding, trail riding, and working ranch horses for those who are not interested in competition.