thanks to Sue Deutscher for the magnificent artwork. http://www.suedeutscher.com
The Arabian horse is one of the most majestic and at the same time delicate of God’s creations.It is difficult to find the appropriate words to describe the Arabian horse in motion, seeing the fluidity of the horse and the strong connection between the horse and its owner.The Arabian horse evolved from the desert as one of the known breeds of riding horse and in addition to retaining its popularity in the Middle East, it is also among the most popular horses in the United States as well.The Arabian horse is characterized as having incredible energy, intelligence and gentle disposition which allow its riders to excel in most equine sports and activities.
The Arabian Horse Association provides excellent information on the background and history of the Arabian horse.Select excerpts are provided below which capture pertinent details on the evolution of this magnificent creature leading to its continued popularity in today’s modern world.
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 evolved the Arabian with its large lung capacity and incredible endurance.
The prophet Mohammed, in the seventh century AD, 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 instructed that special attentions should be paid to the mares because they insure 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.
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.
Neither sacred nor profane history tells us the country where the horse was first domesticated, or whether he was first used for work or riding. He probably was used for both purposes in very early times and in various parts of the world. We know that by 1500 B.C. the people of the east had obtained great mastery over their hot-blooded horses which were the forerunners of the breed which eventually became known as “Arabian.”
“An Arabian will take care of its owner as no other horse will, for it has not only been raised to physical perfection, but has been instilled with a spirit of loyalty unparalleled by that of any other breed.”
To the Islamic people, he was considered a gift from Allah, to be revered, cherished and almost worshipped. Long before Europeans were to become aware of his existence, the horse of the desert had established himself as a necessity for survival of the Bedouin people. The head men of the tribes could relate the verbal histories of each family of horse in his tribe as well as he could each family of Bedouin. The mythology and romance of the breed grew with each passing century as stories of courage, endurance and wealth intermingled with the genealogies.
The very nature of the breed, its shape as well as its color, was influenced by religious belief, superstition and tradition. It was believed that the bulging forehead held the blessings of Allah. Therefore the greater the “Jibbah” the greater the blessings carried by the horse. The great arching neck with a high crest, the “Mitbah” was a sign of courage, while a gaily carried tail showed pride. These traits were held in high esteem and selectively bred for.
Due in part to the religious significance attached to the Arabian horse, as well as the contribution it made to the wealth and security of the tribe, the breed flourished in near isolation. Traditions of breeding and purity were established to keep the breed “Asil” or pure, in the form intended by Allah. Any mixture of foreign blood from the mountains or the cities surrounding the desert was strictly forbidden. While other, desert type breeds developed in North Africa and the periphery of the Great Desert, they were definitely not of the same blood as Arabians and were disdained by the proud Bedouin.
The Bedouins have generally been credited with the beginning of selective pure breeding of Arabian horses. These tribes, although their breeding records were kept by memory and passed down through the ages verbally, are also credited as the first to keep breeding records and maintaining the purity of the Arabian breed. To this date, many Arabian pedigrees can be traced to desert breeding meaning there is no written record but because of the importance of purity to the Bedouins, “desert bred” is accepted as an authentic verification of pure blood for those early imports.
Today the Arabian horse exists in far greater numbers outside of its land of origin than it ever did in the Great Desert. In the early part of the last century; greed, ambition, desire for prestige, as well as an honest interest in saving the breed from extinction was the driving force behind governments, royal families and adventuring private citizens alike in the acquisition and propagation of this great prize of the Bedouin people–the Arabian horse.
Where can one go in and around Riyadh to see firsthand the intelligence, beauty and power of the Arabian horse?Among the most well-known include the King Abdul Aziz Arabian Horse Center which serves as the Kingdom’s official authority for registration of Arabian horses and issued its inaugural stud book in December of 1991.This Center is home to over 200 purebred Arabian horses, the Center operates under the auspices of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture, and became home to the government stud of the Kingdom in 1964.The 750-acre facility is located in Dirab, an agricultural valley thirty-five kilometers outside the capital of Riyadh.
While not everyone may be able to easily access and view the horses at the King Abdul Aziz Arabian Horse Center, another place which is closer to the city center of Riyadh is the Equestrian Center of Riyadh.This is where, in season, one can see the magnificent Arabian horses in action.Due to the intense heat of Riyadh, the racing season is from late September until April.After April the racing is shifted to another track in Taif where the climate is more cooler.The King Abdulaziz Track, is located at Janadriyah 40Km. north east of Riyadh close to the King Khalid International Airport. This track has been recently completed and the facilities are to international standards with a grandstand accommodating 5,000 racegoers.
This post would not be complete however without concluding with two of my favorite videos of the Arabian horse in action.The first video in particular clearly illustrates the close bond that develops between an Arabian horse and its trainer.The video will allow you to see for yourself the closeness between the horse and its trainer as well as the distinctive and at times perhaps mischievous personality that the horse has as well!
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