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Interesting Facts About Arabian Horses You Probably Never Knew

Donna writes frequently about animals, especially dogs. She is a real estate agent and published author.

Arabian horses are believed to be the oldest purebred horses in existence.

Arabian horses are believed to be the oldest purebred horses in existence.

The Arabian Horse: Majestic and Ancient

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 (AHA), "a beautiful breed...that excels at many activities.” Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics and details of this magnificent horse breed.

Arabians in Horse Racing

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.

Arabian 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:

  • Equitation
  • Halter
  • Working
  • Native Costume
  • Show Hack
  • Sidesaddle

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.

Genetic Disorders in Arabian Horses

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 by the AHA as when “the Purkinje cells in the brain’s cerebellum begin to die, resulting in a severe lack of coordination.” The animals are usually euthanized.
  • LFS: Lavender Foal Syndrome, or Coat Color Dilution Lethal (CCDL) 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. Additionally, the Arabian Rescue Mission rescues and re-homes these horses.

© 2012 Donna Cosmato


none ya on August 21, 2018:

They are really beutifull

Peggy on January 23, 2018:

I heard years ago that they are highly humanly engineered by breeding.Do they have an extra lung and an extra vertebrae that was bred into them thousands of Yeats sho gor endurance purposes?..Anyone?

jj on November 09, 2013:


Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 17, 2012:

Thanks, Ricky, I'm glad you liked this. They are really beautiful creatures, aren't they?

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on February 16, 2012:

Voted up, useful, and interesting. Very cool article Donna. You have listed some very important facts and this was very well written I may add. They are beautiful horses. Great history. Great article.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 11, 2012:

Hi Lisa42, thanks for reading and commenting on this. I'm a Derby fan myself (being a Kentuckian) but the Arabian races are awesome as well. I'm glad you found this useful.

lisa42 from Sacramento on February 11, 2012:

I learned a lot here. The only horse race I'm familiar with is the Kentucky Derby, so I had no idea that Arabians had their own race.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 09, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by to read this hub on Arabians, alwaysexploring. I always look forward to hearing your feedback on my work:)

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 09, 2012:

Hi Vellur, thanks for commenting - the dance was pretty impressive wasn't it? I knew Arabians could run like the wind but I had no idea that they had such an impressive high stepping gait.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 09, 2012:

Thanks for commenting, The Finance Hub. It's always fun to learn new facts, isn't it? I'm glad you enjoyed this.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 08, 2012:

The Arabian horse is very beautiful. I love to watch them dance. You have noted some interesting facts that i was unaware of. Thank you for sharing..

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 08, 2012:

A cool hub. Loved it. Lots of interesting information and loved the dance.Voted up.

Donna Cosmato (author) from USA on February 08, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your experiences with Arabian horses Mardi! I'm glad you enjoyed this hub on these marvelous and beautiful horses.

Mardi Winder-Adams from Western Canada and Texas on February 08, 2012:

Arabians are a terrific breed. I have an Arabian/Quarter horse paint mare that is absolutely lovely. Some Arabians are very high spirited and may not be suitable for novice riders. These are outstanding endurance horses too I might add. Small and agile but also as tough as nails! Great Hub!