Interesting Facts About Arabian Horses You Probably Never Knew
While the exact origins of the Arabian horse are unknown, there is anecdotal and archaeological evidence of this oldest-of-breeds dating to 490 B.C.
Arabians were used as war horses and for pulling Egyptian chariots because of their speed and endurance. In fact, their speed earned them the nickname "Drinkers of the Wind". Available evidence pinpoints their origin to the Middle East.
Regardless of where the breed originated, the Arabian is, in the words of the Arabian Horse Association, “not only a beautiful breed, but one that excels at many activities.” 1 Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics and details of this magnificent horse breed.
Although Arabian horse racing has existed in the United States since 1959, the sport has only gained popularity during the last ten years. If you're interested in racing one, the Arabian Jockey Club is a good source for information.
Whether you decide to buy, lease or partner with someone on an Arabian, you can find the answers to all your frequently asked questions (FAQs) on their website. However, here's a brief snapshot of some basic information about this type of racing:
- The average race is six furlongs (0.75 miles, or 1.207008 kilometers)
- The horses compete against other Arabians
- The average racehorse costs between $5,000 to $20,000
- The top awards—for the best of the best—are the Darley Awards. These are presented to horses, jockeys, breeders and trainers.
- The Super Bowl of Arabian horse racing is the Arabian Cup Championship
Horse Show Awards and Prizes
If you're interested in showing your Arabian at a horse show, there are over 500 AHA competitions yearly. The AHA works in conjunction with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to sanction these shows and license judges. Horses may compete in events like dressage, competitive driving, or show hunter, or in classes like:
- Native Costume
- Show Hack
The horses accumulate points to earn achievement awards like these:
- Legion of Honor
- Legion of Supreme Honor
- Legion of Excellence
- Legion of Merit
- Legion of Supreme Merit
- Legion of Masters
- High-Point Awards
- Milestone Awards
- Horse Performance Records
- Dressage Rider Award
- Ambassador Award
Prize money is awarded in the following programs:
- Breeders Sweepstake Program
- Halter Futurities
- Performance Futurities/Maturity
These competitions are open to Arabians, Half-Arabians and Anglo-Arabians.
Arabians suffer from the following genetic disorders:
- SCID: Severe combined immunodeficiency disorder results in Arabians being born with a compromised immune system. Either an infection kills the foal, or they are euthanized.
- CA: Arabians are susceptible to cerebellar abiotrophy. This disease is defined thus by the Arabian Horse Association: “The Purkinje cells in the brain’s cerebellum begin to die, resulting in a severe lack of coordination.”2 The animals are usually euthanized.
- LFS: “Lavender Foal Syndrome, or Coat Color Dilution Lethal (CCDL)” 3 as it is also known, is a neurological disorder which causes seizures. Foals are born with a dull lavender color coat and are usually euthanized.
- JES: Juvenile epilepsy or Idiopathic Epilepsy (IE) causes the foals to have seizures. This condition is usually self-limiting.
- Wobbler’s syndrome causes compression of the spinal cord. Wobbler’s syndrome and CA are often confused, and it is important for owners to get professional help to distinguish between the two conditions.
- GPT: When Arabians have guttural pouch tympany, the pharyngeal opening is deformed. Air comes in, but is not breathed out.
- OAAM: Occipito atlantoaxial malformation is another neurological disorder that causes spinal compression in Arabians.
The Arabian is one of the most popular horse breeds because of its intelligence, affectionate nature, and willingness to please. They are quick learners, high-spirited and alert.
Some of their distinguishing features are their compact bodies, short backs, and strong solid dense bone structures. They have a horizontal croup—the area across the hindquarters—an arched neck, and their tails are carried high. Their heads are sculptured, form a wedge and are slightly concave.
The Arabian Horse Association (AHA) recognizes five colors for Arabians: bay, gray, chestnut, black and roan. Their average lifespan is 20 to 25 years, and when full-grown, they weigh about 800 to 1,000 pounds, and stand 14.1 to 15.1 (57 to 61 inches) hands high.
Now that you know some basics about Arabian horses, you may be interested in obtaining one. The AHA is a good place to start when looking for information on breeders; the Arabian Rescue Mission rescues and re-homes these horses.