For thousands of years, Arabians lived among the desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula, bred by the Bedouins as war mounts for long treks and quick forays into enemy camps. In these harsh desert conditions, the Arabian evolved with its large lung capacity and incredible endurance.
Historical figures like Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Alexander The Great and George Washington rode Arabians. Even today, one finds descendants of the earliest Arabian horses of antiquity. Then, a man’s wealth was measured in his holdings of these fine animals. Given that the Arabian was the original source of quality and speed and remains foremost in the fields of endurance and soundness, he still either directly or indirectly contributed to the formation of virtually all the modern breeds of horses.
The prophet Mohammed, in the seventh century A.D., was instrumental in spreading the Arabian’s influence around the world. He instructed his followers to look after Arabians and treat them with kindness. He said that special attention should be paid to the mares because they ensure the continuity of the breed. He also proclaimed that Allah had created the Arabian and that those who treated the horse well would be rewarded in the afterlife.
The severe climate required the nomads to share food and water, and sometimes even their tents with their horses. As a result, Arabians developed a close affinity to man and a high intelligence.
Over the centuries, the Bedouin tribes zealously maintained the purity of the breed. Because of their limited resources, breeding practices were extremely selective. Such practices, which eventually helped the Arabian become a prized possession throughout the world, have led to the beautiful athletic breed we know today, which is marked by a distinctive dished profile; large, lustrous, wide-set eyes on a broad forehead; small, curved ears; and large, efficient nostrils.
Even today the purebred Arabian is virtually the same as that ridden in ancient Arabia. Arabians now display their athletic talents in a variety of disciplines from English to Western, with the Arabian positioned as the undisputed champion of endurance events.
If you’re looking for a companion who’ll be your partner in adventure or competition – and your friend for life – then an Arabian may be the horse for you.
Origin of the Arabian Horse
When we first encounter the Arabian or the prototype of what is known today as the Arabian, he is somewhat smaller than his counterpart today. Otherwise, he has essentially remained unchanged throughout the centuries.
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 riverbeds 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.