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Pride of the Desert: Arabian horses

The Myth: Many creation myths surround this breed of horse. One of them puts the origin of the Arabian in the time of Ishmael, the son of Abraham. In this story, the Angel Gabriel descended from Heaven and awakened Ishmael with a "wind-spout" that whirled toward him. The Angel then commanded the thundercloud to stop scattering dust and rain, and so it gathered itself into a prancing, handsome creature – a horse – that seemed to swallow up the ground. Hence, the Bedouins bestowed the title "Drinker of the Wind" to the first Arabian horse, a stallion named Kuhaylah.Origin: The very beginnings of the Arabian horse may very well be hidden in the desert sands. Experts theorise the area north of the Fertile Crescent running along the Euphrates, across Sinai and along the coast to Egypt, offered a mild climate and enough rain for an ideal environment for horses. Other historians suggest the breed originated southwest of Arabia, with the three great river beds providing natural wild pastures.

Prized bloodline: For centuries, the genetic strength of the Arabian has been passed on as it is the original source of quality and speed. The founding sires of the Thoroughbred (best known for horse racing) were the Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian, and the Byerley Turk. Directly or indirectly, the Arabian bloodline has influenced the development of virtually every modern horse breed including the Orlov Trotter, Morgan, Saddlebred, Quarter Horse, Trakehner, Welsh Pony, Stock Horse, Percheron Draft Horse, Appaloosa, and more. Today, owners still cross Arabians with other breeds to add refinement, endurance, and beauty.

Competitive: One of the main reasons why the Arabian is so sought after is because of its versatility. Arabians also compete in other equestrian fields like horse show disciplines of Saddle Seat, Western Pleasure, and Hunt Seat, as well as Dressage, Cutting, Reining, Show Jumping, Eventing and more. They also make reliable pleasure, trail riding, and working ranch horses for those not interested in competition.

Note: Comparison on the right is not of maximum speeds. It is only to give an idea how fast the Arabian can run. Car speed is based on the 60-120 kph range in which vehicles travel in major Dubai roads. The horse speed is from record times in the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club races held between 1996 - 2008. The Dubai Metro is capable of travelling faster, but its average speed is listed at 45 kph.

Breeding: For centuries, the Bedouin tracked the ancestry of each horse through an oral tradition. Horses of the purest blood were known as Asil and crossbreeding with non-Asil horses was forbidden. Mares were most valued for riding and breeding, and pedigree families were traced through the female line. The Bedouin did not believe in gelding male horses. They considered stallions too intractable to be good war horses thus they kept only few male foals (colts).

Today, Arabian horses are found all over the world. They are no longer distinguished by Bedouin strain, but are informally classified by the nation of origin of famed horses in a given pedigree.


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