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Arabian Race Horse
Purebred Arabian horses are remarkable and striking animals. With a long line of history, this breed is considered as one of the oldest horse bloodlines that is still existing up to this day. When you see an Arabian horse, you can distinguish it from the other breeds through its dished face, finely chiselled head, high tail carriage and long arching neck. The breed’s overall appearance reflects intelligence, energy, courage and nobility. Known for its “floating trot,” an Arabian race horse moves while flaunting its graceful yet proud nature.
Generally, Arabian horses possess a short, straight back, a deep chest, perfect balance and symmetry, strong legs with thick density, well-sprung ribs and a pelvic bone with a more horizontal position.
Modern-Day Arabian Horse Uses
Arabian horses are considered as versatile animals. They are known for competing in a number of equestrian events, including horse racing, cutting, dressage, reining, show jumping, endurance riding and equitation. They are also used for horse shows within the disciplines of hunt seat, saddle seat and Western pleasure. Other people use Arabian horses for trail riding, pleasure riding and for ranch work.
Arabian Horses in Endurance Riding
When people think about Arabian horse racing, the first thing that comes to mind is the sport of endurance riding. This breed is renowned across the globe for its remarkable endurance. It is true that Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses can conveniently outrun Arabians in shorter distances. However, due to latter’s genetic and physical makeup, it can go through incredible feats that require endurance. This breed leads competitions like the Tevis Cup which can cover up to 160km (100 miles) in a single day. Arabians also compete in FEI-regulated endurance events around the world, including the World Equestrian Games.
This breed is recognised for its high-strung attitude and spirited nature. Typically possessing a small stature, an Arabian does not fare well in a traditional flat race against Thoroughbreds who are known for their great stride. However, its agility and nimbleness pose as a great asset for the most unpredictable and treacherous trails. While it is true that any type of horse can compete in endurance races, an Arabian horse’s intelligence makes it a strong competitor in this field. Hence, when you are planning to bet on endurance races, make sure you keep an eye on the Arabians.
Arabian Horses in Other Competitions
In the United States and Canada, there are several USEF-sanctioned horse shows for Arabian, Anglo-Arabian and Half-Arabian horses. In North America, sport horse events specifically tailored for Arabians are widely appreciated. Their popularity grew in 2003 when the Arabian Horse Association started hosting separate Half-Arabian and Arabian Sport Horse National Championships. By 2004, there were about 2,000 entries in this discipline. In this competition, Arabian and part-Arabian horses are required to perform in jumper, sport horse under saddle, hunter, dressage, sport horse in hand and combined driving events.
There are also other countries which host major horse sporting events that particularly cater to purebred and part-bred Arabian horses. These nations include France, Great Britain, Spain, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.
Purebred Arabian horses have been known to excel in open events against other breeds. One of the well-known examples of this was the Ronteza, a mare who defeated 50 horses from all breeds to eventually win the 1961 Reined Cow Horse championship which was held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. In the 1950s, Arabian stallion Aaraf came out as the victor of the all-breed cutting horse event at the Quarter Horse Congress. A lot of Arabians have also successfully competed against other breeds in show jumping and show hunter events. Purebred Arabian Russian Roulette competed in many open circuits and won various jumping classes against horses from different breeds. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, as purebred Arabian horse joined the Brazilian team.
Even part-Arabians have been seen competing at open sport horse events as well as at the Olympics. In 1928 and 1932, Anglo-Arabian Linon won the Olympic silver medal in Dressage for France. This particular race horse also competed with the team that won the gold medal in 1932. Another French Anglo-Arabian horse, Harpagon, also won the team gold medal as well as a silver medal in dressage at the Olympics in 1948. During the 1952 Olympics, Anglo-Arabian Ali Baba competed with French rider Pierre d’Oriola and won the gold medal in individual show jumping. Anglo-Arabian Tamarillio was ridden by William Fix-Pitt when they competed for the United Kingdom in the Olympic and FEI competitions. They’ve won several awards, including the first place at the 2004 Badminton Horse Trials. Just recently, Theodore O’Connor, a 14.1 hand pony with Arabian, Thoroughbred and Shetland pony bloodline competed at the 2007 Pan American Games and won two medals. He also finished sixth at the 2007 and 2008 Rolex Kentucky Three Day CCI competition.
Other Activities Where Arabians are Involved
Aside from competing in horse races, Arabians have also been involved in a wide array of activities, including movies, parades, fairs and circuses, among many others. This breed has been a popular choice in movies as far back as the silent film era. It is worth noting the 1926 movie Son of the Sheik, Rudolph Valentino rode the Kellogg Arabian stallion Jadaan. Other movies which featured Arabians include The Black Stallion, The Young Black Stallion, Hidalgo, and Ben-Hur.
Arabians are also used as football teams’ mascots and they perform activities on the sidelines and the field to please the crowd. From 1993 to 2004, purebred Arabian stallion J B Kobask (also known as “Thunder”) served as the mascot for the Denver Broncos. At the annual Tournament of Roses Parade that is held every New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, Arabians are also a regular sight.
Occasionally, police units use Arabian horses for search and rescue operations. In the US and Europe, this breed is used in polo while in Turkey, it is used for Cirit, a traditional equestrian sport. Arabian horses have also been used in therapeutic horseback riding programs as well as on guest ranches.
History and Heritage of the Arabian Horse
Arabian horses have lived among the Arabian Peninsula’s desert tribes for thousands of years. They were bred by the Bedouins for the war purposes. Since these horses have a physical built that renders great endurance, they were utilised for long treks as well as for quick raids into enemy camps. Since they were subject to the harsh conditions of the Arabian deserts, these horses were able to develop a strong and huge lung capacity as well as remarkable endurance.
Arabian horses were ridden by famous historical figures, including Napoleon, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and George Washington. During the ancient times, an individual’s wealth was measured by how many Arabian horses he owned. Many believe that this breed was the original source for speed and quality. Even to this day, the Arabian horse breed still remains foremost in the fields of soundness and endurance. Hence, it has been concluded that this breed was directly or indirectly related to the development of almost all the modern horse breeds.
During the seventh century, prophet Mohammed was instrumental in spreading the influence of the Arabian horses across the globe. He gave his followers instructions to take care of these horses and to treat them with kindness. He also added that the mares should be given special attention because they ensure that the breed continues to exist. Mohammed proclaimed that it was Allah who created Arabian horses and that those who treated them well will receive a reward in the afterlife.
Since Arabians were exposed to the harsh desert environment, the nomads were required to share water and food, and sometimes even their tents with the horses. Consequently, this breed formed a close affinity to humans as well as a high intelligence.
Though centuries, the breed’s purity was zealously maintained by the Bedouin tribes. However, due to limited resources, breeding practices during that time were extremely selective. These practices were also the reason why Arabian horses were prized possessions and why the wonderful athletic breed we know today is marked by distinctive characteristics like lustrous, large and wide-set eyes on a broad forehead; small, curved ears and large yet efficient nostrils.
Up to this day, purebred Arabian horses is almost the same as those that were ridden during the ancient times. This breed is now known to display their athletic abilities in different disciplines, especially in endurance races. Needless to say, if you are looking for a horse that is ideal for adventures, long rides or endurance competitions, then the Arabian is the perfect breed for you.