Arab/Arabian the oldest and purest of all horse breeds. Believed to stem from the primitive wild horse of the Arabian Peninsula which comprises the modern countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of the equine races. The breed is known to the Arabs as Kehailan meaning pure or thoroughbred. Over the centuries great care has been taken to ensure the continued existence of the pure bred Arab (i.e. no blood other than Arabian) these are divided into several strains; Saglawi, Ubayer, Hamdain Managhi and Hadbar.
The Arab has aesthetically very distinctive features and paces. It has a small-refined head with a dished profile, large intelligent eyes set wide apart, as it has a very broad forehead. The ears are defined, small and shapely. A tapering muzzle, that is extremely soft to the touch, supports wide, thin edged nostrils that are mobile and flare on exertion or excitement. The jowl is deep, circular and well defined with the throat set into it in an arched curve supported by a graceful arched curved neck, well defined withers and a good long sloping shoulder. The body is deep and roomy with a deep girth and broad, deep chest. The back is short and level with a high set tail - It's unique shape is largely due to the formation of its skeleton which is different from other breeds; having only seventeen ribs (other horses have 18) and five lumber vertebrae (other horses have six) and sixteen tail vertebrae (other horses have eighteen). In spite of its small stature, it usually stands between 14.2 hh and 15 hh, it is capable of carrying a grown mans weight. Although there are some height exceptions, in particular those of up to 16 hh. of Lady Wentworth (well known Arab scholar and publicist.) The distinctive floating elegant paces make the Arab a comfortable ride and though normally high spirited it has a gentle temperament.
Arabian type horses feature on ancient Egyptian monuments as far back as 1300bc, and there is an earlier statuette dating back to 2000bc. Many years of living in harsh conditions has made this horse extremely hardy. It has great powers of endurance, soundness of wind and limb with good well shaped feet and hard legs. Dense, fine bones and the ability to thrive on meagre rations. It is often favoured as an endurance horse where at top level it will be expected to cover distances of 100 miles (161km) in a day.
The Arab has had an unrivalled influence on the development of the horse worldwide. Mohammed had a significant influence in raising the status of the Arab by making law, that as an article of faith, particular attention should be paid to the care of horses. When he died in AD 632 the warlike followers of Islam spread across and conquered much of North Africa and gained access into Spain and France. They took the far superior Arab horses with them and improved the stock of the native horses with Arab blood. This practice continued for many centuries.
Today Arab blood is still used to improve native breeds from our own little Welsh Mountain pony to the heavy draught horse. The founding fathers of the English thoroughbred are the Byerley Turk, the Godolphin Arabian and the Darley Arabian who were imported into Britain in the late 17th century and early eighteenth. All thoroughbreds have direct lines back to them though there is some dispute whether Byerley Turk is a pure bred Arabian the other two are most certainly pure bred Arabs. Today, the continuation of breeding the pure bred Arab carries on throughout the world and long may we continue.
The Arab Horse Society was founded in England in 1918 to promote the breeding and importation of pure-bred Arabs and to encourage the re-introduction of Arab blood into light horse breeding. The society holds an annual breed Show and publishes the Arab Horse Society News twice yearly. Furthermore it publishes three stud books for Arabs, Anglo Arabs and part-bred Arabs.
Anglo-Arab is the cross between an Arab and a Thoroughbred, with their subsequent re-crossing. The Arab horse society in Great Britain rules that they have no other blood in their pedigree other than Arab and Thoroughbred.