A complete guide to Arabian horses
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Known for its spirited disposition, high level of intelligence and exceptional stamina, the Arabian horse is one of the world's oldest recognized breeds. The bloodlines of virtually every breed of modern horse can be traced back to Arabian horses, given their widespread popularity in virtually every region of the world.
The history of the Arabian horse spans back at least 4,500 years. Over the millennia, the breed was spread around the world as the result of both war and trade. Arabian horses are believed to have originated in the desert and display one of the most versatile skill sets of any breed.
This breed is used for virtually everything from working ranches and pleasure riding to equestrian competitions and show jumping. Arabian horse racing is also very common, given the breed's strength and stamina.
Body Size: According to the Arabian Horse Association (AHA), adults should measure between 14.1 and 15.1 hands high (hh; a "hand" being a unit of equine measurement equivalent to approximately 4 inches), or 57 to 61 inches. Given this relatively narrow range, the AHA notes that individual animals may be slightly shorter or taller. A healthy weight range is 800 to 1,100 pounds.
Color and Patterns: Purebred members of the breed, according to the Arabian Horse Association, should be bay, gray, chestnut, roan or black in color. Chestnut, gray and bay coats occur most frequently, with roan and black being relatively rare. Appaloosa horse patterns are not seen in this breed, but milder sabino or rabicano spotting may occur.
Caring for an Arabian Horse
Feeding: A proper feeding regimen depends on the animal's intended use. Arabian horses with lower activity levels should do fine with two meals of horse feed per day and a salt lick or mineral lick, in addition to plenty of water. Horse treats are optional. Horses intended for competition should have professionally designed nutrition plans.
Grooming: It's essential to inspect hooves daily for injuries or signs of a potential infection. Show horses have much more intricate grooming needs than riding horses, so coat brushing, mane trimming and other grooming practices should be performed on an as-needed basis.
Health Problems: Arabian horses suffer from six known genetic diseases:
- Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Arabian horses with this condition are born with no immune systems and rarely survive longer than five months.
- Guttural pouch tympany (GPT). Horses with this disease have guttural pouch malformations that restrict breathing and require surgical correction.
- Equine juvenile epilepsy. This condition causes seizures, which usually resolve spontaneously when the animal reaches 12 to 18 months of age.
- Lavender foal syndrome (LFS). Named for the coat discolorations that signal its presence, LFS is also marked by seizures and an inability for the newborn foal to stand up. Most animals with LFS are put down a few days after birth.
- Cerebellar abiotrophy (CA). Foals with this disease are asymptomatic at birth, but around the age of six weeks, they begin to have severe coordination and gait problems. In mild cases, the horse can go on to have a normal, full life. More severe cases usually require the horse to be put down, though, since horses with CA are very accident-prone and can endanger both people and other horses.
- Occipital atlanto-axial malformation (OAAM). This disease is a malformation of the neck vertebrae, resulting in poorly coordinated motion in mild cases and paralysis in severe cases.
Life Expectancy: Healthy Arabians live approximately 20 to 25 years.
Find an Arabian Horse for Sale
Locating reputable local breeders is fairly easy with the help of an Arabian horse registry or the Arabian Horse Association. Vendors with Arabian horses for sale generally charge on a sliding scale according to the age of the animal, with foals being the least expensive, yearlings commanding a premium and two-year-olds fetching the most money.