Horses have been admired for thousands of years in cultural artwork and literature. They were even idolized as gods in some indigenous cultures! Generally, they exist over 600 horse breeds globally, each with its distinct charm and personality.
Although all horses are beautiful in their own way, certain breeds in particular capture the human imagination.
However, the Arab warmblood horse breeds are among the stunning horse breeds in the world. See their characteristic traits below to learn more about their origin, height, physique, and other facts.
Table of Contents (Horspedia)
- 1 Arab Warmblood Horse Breed | Remarkable and Stunning Horse Breed
- 2 Anglo-Arab | An English Evolution of Arab Warmblood Horse Breed | Origin Story
- 3 Shagya Arab | Hungarian Version of the Arab Warmblood Horse Breed
Arab Warmblood Horse Breed | Remarkable and Stunning Horse Breed
Origin: Arabia. Now widespread throughout the world, many countries have produced separate strains.
Height: Roughly 14.2-15.1hh, but can be smaller and occasionally a trifle larger according to the severity of climate and richness of pasture.
Color: Gray, bay, chestnut; occasionally black. Character: Remarkably spirited horse, fiery and airy: possessed of great intelligence; bold, loyal, and enduring.
Physique: Exquisite head, short and fine, with concave face, wide nostrils on an elegant muzzle, large, dark eyes and small, prick ears; carried nobly on a gracefully arched neck, set into good shoulders.
Body compact and well-muscled with strong hindquarters; legs at once delicate and strong; feet small and hard. The whole effect is one of symmetry and grace, carried with pride and full of life, and the action straight, free and airy.
Hungarian Arab Origin Story – The Mohammedan Belief
Allah said to the South Wind:
“Become solid flesh, for I will make a new creature of thee, to the honor of My Holy One, and the abasement of Mine enemies, and for a servant to them that are subject to Me.” And the South Wind said: “Lord, do Thou so.“
Then Allah took a handful of the South Wind and he breathed thereon, creating the horse and saying:
“Thy name shall be Arabian, and virtue bound into the hair of thy forelock, and plunder on thy back. I have preferred thee above all beasts of burden, inasmuch as I have made thy master thy friend. I have given thee the power of flight without wings, be it in onslaught or in retreat. I will set men on thy back, hat shall honor and praise Me and sing Hallelujah to My name.”according to the Bedouin legend about Arab Horse origin
The Arab horse has been selectively bred for more than 1,000 years longer than any other breed, and there are those who claim that he has run wild in the deserts of Arabia for many millennia.
Others disagree on the grounds that no prehistoric horse bones have ever been found in the desert, and they are supported by the fact that the Arab was not one of the 12 breeds mentioned by the Romans; nor is there any mention of him in pre-Roman history.
The Mohammedans Believe vs the Mundane truth | The Arab Horse Origin
The Mohammedans believed, literally, that Allah created him out of a handful of the south wind; but the mundane truth of it must be that like all other breeds of horse and pony, the Arab evolved over many centuries from the prehistoric wild horses who roamed the plateaux and steppes of Europe and Asia before man was civilized, and who looked very much like the Tarpan and the Asiatic Wild Horse of today.
Selective breeding of the Arab by the Bedouin has been going on since at least the time of Mohammed (7th century AD). And there is evidence to suggest that it was practiced for as long as a thousand years before ‘the Bedouins’ ruthless attention to the purity of line, so absolute that, unless a horse was known to be asil (pure) he could never be bred into the asil line.
No matter how perfect his confirmation plus the exceptional hardships of the desert climate are; the two factors that have produced the most graceful and individual horse in the world.
Food was scarce in the desert. Grass grew only in winter and early spring, and for the rest of the year the horses lived off camel’s milk, dried dates, locusts, and dried camel’s meat. Only the strong could endure it.
So convinced was Mohammed of the military importance of these tough desert horses, which he bought from the wandering tribes and paid for with human slaves, that he wrote into the Koran an irresistible injunction to men to feed their horses well: “As many grains of barley as thou givest thy horse, so many sins shall be forgiven thee.“
How passion protected the stunning Arab Warmblood Horse Breed
Religious commandment reinforced by an extraordinary passion for their horses led the Bedouin into a man-to-horse relationship unequaled to this day. It was to last for 13 centuries.
Not only did a man share his food with his horse, but even slept with him; and this, too, was on the instruction of Mohammed (“The Evil One dare not enter into a tent in which a pure-bred horse is kept“).
The mares, and not the stallions, were the most highly prized and were the mounts that were used for war and plunder.
Purity of bloodline was treated with fanatical seriousness, and horses were generally inbred to reinforce good qualities, an entirely foreign concept to the Western breeder, whose school of thought has it that inbreeding produces congenital weaknesses.
The several hundred “families” of the Arabian horse are divided into three main types, which are still to be seen today.
They are Kehylan – masculine type, a symbol of power and endurance, Seglawi – feminine type, a symbol of beauty and elegance, Muniqi – angular type, the symbol of speed and racing. The breeding of one Arabian type with another is not always desirable, since the offspring is sometimes of lesser quality than either parent.
Arabs were probably first introduced into Europe during the Moorish invasions of the western Mediterranean. Incidental breeding with local mares must have occurred, but there is little evidence to suggest that the Arab was thought of as anything more than perhaps a decorative parade mount.
During the Crusades, captured Arab horses seem again to have acquired some stature as fit mounts for kings and princes on state occasions, though as cavalry chargers they never entered into consideration because the heavy armor of the times required horses of enormous size and power to carry it. Light arms and armor changed all that.
The growth of the Arab warmblood horse breed in Europe
From the Renaissance through the Napoleonic wars the superiority of the Turkish mounts, in fleetness of foot and movement and in endurance, was obvious, and the demand for Arab blood began to grow in Europe.
Following the disastrous retreat from Moscow in the bitter winter of 1812, Napoleon’s aide-de-camp wrote to his superior officer:
The Arab horse withstood the exertions and privations better than the European horse. After the cruel campaign in Russia, almost all the horses the Emperor had left were his Arabs. General Hubert… was only able to bring back to France one horse out of his five, and that was an Arab. Captain Simonneau, of the General Staff, had only his Arab left at the end, and so it was with me also.
Given such proofs as these, Arabians were wanted wherever courage and stamina were at a premium. So it came about that during the Crimean War vital news of the Russian defeat was entrusted to an Arab-mounted messenger.
The bay stallion Omar Pasha galloped the 93 miles from Silistra to Varna in one day. His rider died of exhaustion, but Omar Pasha seemed fresh as ever. Arab horses are sometimes known as Drinkers of the Wind.
Today the Arabian is bred in many countries, showing slight differences of the type according to national preference and variations in height and build according to the climate and the pasture (obviously a horse bred on rich temperate-zone pasture will be bigger and softer than his dry, desert-bred cousin).
Though his cavalry days are over, his dash and spirit as a riding horse ensure his future and his prepotency as a sire will endure, as in so many cases in the past wherever a new breed of quality and fire is evolved.
Anglo-Arab | An English Evolution of Arab Warmblood Horse Breed | Origin Story
Origin: Evolved in several countries by inbreeding Thoroughbreds with Arabs. Principal countries of Anglo-Arab development are Britain, France, and Poland.
Height: Usually around 16hh, or just under, but can be smaller or larger.
Color: Any of the common solid colors. Bay chestnuts are the most common.
Character: Brave, gay, sweet-natured, intelligent.
Physique: Varies; the qualities of Thoroughbred and Arab being displayed in differing measures. An elegant lightweight saddle horse with a delicate head, usually a straight face, and large, expressive eyes.
Neck long and arched. Prominent withers, good shoulder, and chest, pleasing depth of girth. Short back; tail set on high and gaily carried. Legs long and slender, with good quality bone.
How the Anglo-Arab warmblood horse breed emerged
The Anglo-Arab, obviously a younger breed than the Thoroughbred, arose independently in various parts of Europe wherever there were breeders who admired the Thoroughbred horse breeds and the Arab horse breeds and wanted to combine the qualities of both.
Studs in south-western France and the Polish government stud at Janów produce particularly good Anglo-Arabs.
Depending on individual height and scope, Anglo-Arabs have excelled at dressage, eventing, jumping, hunting, and hacks.
Shagya Arab | Hungarian Version of the Arab Warmblood Horse Breed
Height: Roughly 15hh. Color: Gray (almost always).
Character: Extremely versatile, alert, intelligent, and enduring.
Physique: Typical Arabian of the Seglawi type.
How the Shagya Arab warmblood horse breed emerged
The Shagya is not a purebred Arab in the strictest sense, since some of the early foundation mares were not Arabian.
It has its origins at the Bábolna stud, where, in 1816 an army order was issued that all Bábolna mares should be covered by Oriental stallions.
During the 1830s, following a catastrophic outbreak of venereal disease at the stud, the Bábolna commandant, Major Freiherr von Herbert, imported from the desert 5 Arab mares and 9 stallions, the best of which, a gray called Shagya, was to prove a sire of great prepotency.
The descendants of Shagya are now at stud in the United States, Poland, Germany, Austria, Romania, former Yugoslavia, and former Czechoslovakia, and are still bred at Bábolna. Stallions take the name Shagya followed by a Roman numeral indicating the number of generations separating them from the foundation sire.
The Shagya Arab warmblood horse breeds have been used for all kinds of work.
Though they are primarily cavalry and general saddle horses, they have worked successfully as draught animals and go well in harness.