Thursday, September 15, 2011

Arabian Horses

The Arabian or Arab horse (Arabic: الحصان العربي ‎ [ ħisˤaːn ʕarabiː], DMG ḥiṣān ʿarabī) is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.
The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people, often being brought inside the family tent for shelter and protection from theft. Selective breeding for traits including an ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.
Arabian horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. Most display a distinctive concave or "dished" profile. Many Arabians also have a slight forehead bulge between their eyes, called the jibbahby the Bedouin, that adds additional sinus capacity, believed to have helped the Arabian horse in its native dry desert climate. Another breed characteristic is an arched neck with a large, well-set windpipe set on a refined, clean throatlatch. This structure of the poll and throatlatch was called the mitbah or mitbeh by the Bedouin. In the best Arabians it is long, allowing flexibility in the bridle and room for the windpipe.

The Arabian is a versatile breed. Arabians dominate the discipline of endurance riding, and compete today in many other fields of equestrianactivity. They are one of the top ten most popular horse breeds in the world. They are now found worldwide, including the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, continental Europe, South America (especially Brazil), and its land of origin, the Middle East.The breed standard stated by the United States Equestrian Federation, describes Arabians as standing between 14.1 to 15.1 hands (57 to 61 inches, 145 to 155 cm) tall, "with the occasional individual over or under." Thus, all Arabians, regardless of height, are classified as "horses", even though 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) is the traditional cutoff height between a horse and a pony. A common myth is that Arabians are not strong because they are relatively small and refined. However, the Arabian horse is noted for a greater density of bone than other breeds, short cannons, sound feet, and a broad, short back,all of which give the breed physical strength comparable to many taller animals.Thus, even a smaller Arabian can carry a heavy rider. For tasks where the sheer weight of the horse matters, such as farm work done by a draft horse, any lighter-weight horse is at a disadvantage. However, for most purposes, the Arabian is a strong and hardy light horse breed able to carry any type of rider in most equestrian pursuits.For centuries, Arabian horses lived in the desert in close association with humans.For shelter and protection from theft, prized war mareswere sometimes kept in their owner's tent, close to children and everyday family life. Only horses with a naturally good disposition were allowed to reproduce, with the result that Arabians today have a good temperament that, among other examples, makes them one of the few breeds where the United States Equestrian Federation rules allow children to exhibit stallions in nearly all show ring classes, including those limited to riders under 18.
Other distinctive features are a relatively long, level croup, or top of the hindquarters, and naturally high tail carriage. The USEF breed standard requires Arabians have solid bone and standard correct equine conformation. Well-bred Arabians have a deep, well-angled hip and well laid-back shoulder. Within the breed, there are variations. Some individuals have wider, more powerfully muscled hindquarters suitable for intense bursts of activity in events such as reining, while others have longer, leaner muscling better suited for long stretches of flat work such as endurance riding or horse racing. Most have a compact body with a short back. Arabians usually have dense, strong bone, and good hoof walls. They are especially noted for their endurance, and the superiority of the breed in Endurance riding competition demonstrates that well-bred Arabians are strong, sound horses with superior stamina. At international FEI-sponsored endurance events, Arabians and half-Arabians are the dominant performers in distance competition.
The Arabian Horse Association registers purebred horses with the coat colors bay, gray, chestnut, black, and roan.Bay, gray and chestnut are the most common, black is less common. The classic roan gene does not appear to exist in Arabians;rather, Arabians registered by breeders as "roan" are usually expressing rabicano or, sometimes, sabino patterns with roan features.All Arabians, no matter their coat color, have black skin, except under white markings. Black skin provided protection from the intense desert sun.
Purebred Arabians never carry dilution genes. Therefore, purebreds cannot be colors such as dun, cremello, palomino or buckskin.However, there is pictorial evidence from pottery and tombs in Ancient Egypt suggesting that spotting patterns may have existed on ancestral Arabian-type horses in antiquity.Nonetheless, purebred Arabians today do not carry genes for pinto or Appaloosa spotting patterns, except for sabino.
Spotting or excess white was believed by many breeders to be a mark of impurity until DNA testing for verification of parentage became standard. For a time, horses with belly spots and other white markings deemed excessive were discouraged from registration and excess white was sometimes penalized in the show ring.
Arabians are versatile horses that compete in many equestrian fields, including horse racing, the horse show disciplines of saddle seat, Western pleasure, and hunt seat, as well asdressage, cutting, reining, endurance riding, show jumping, even ting, youth events such as equitation, and others. They are used as pleasure riding, trail riding, and working ranch horses for those who are not interested in competition.

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