The Arabian Has Influenced So Many Other Breeds

Arabians aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. They have a reputation of being hot, deserved or not depending on the individual. They’re too small for some people and some sports. They have a tendency to jump without considering that they also have to land, so it takes a lot of work to make an Arabian shine in the hunter ring. Take an Arabian into any western ring and you might hear snide remarks about your A-rahb. In fact, ride an Arabian and you’ll probably run into your fair share of ‘haters’ and critics.

But these hardy little horses deserve more respect. Hardy? Yes, they may look delicate, but one place this breeds outshines all others is in long distance riding. Carrying full grown men with all their tack, Arabians consistently cover distances of a hundred miles or more over very challenging terrain within 24 hours. But that’s not the only reason they deserve more respect. Chances are, those making snide remarks about Arabians are sitting on a horse that has some percentage of Arabian blood in its pedigree. The breed itself is the oldest in the world, with the purest bloodlines. A horse that has any other breed in its pedigree is always a partbred, no matter how distant the outcross.

Before Arabians were brought to Europe, horses were either draft-type cold bloods or ponies. It wasn’t until the first Arabians were bred to these native horses, to introduce more refinement, that light horses as we know them came into existence. Since then, almost every light horse breed has been influenced by the Arabian. Most notable is, of course, the Thoroughbred, whose ancestors included the Godolphin and Darley Arabians.

Ask an American Quarter Horse rider if they want to ride your Arabian, and you’ll probably get a look of horror. The Quarter Horse and Arabian may seem like opposites when it comes to temperament, but today’s Quarter Horse has a good sprinkling of Arabian. The ancestors of the modern Quarter Horse were brought by colonists from Europe that would have had Arabian ancestors, and the horses of the first nations people, most notably the Chickasaws, who rode horses descended from the Spanish horses brought by the conquistadors many decades before.

The Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and other light horses we ride are descendants of the Arabian. Some heavy horses too, have Arabian ancestry. The Percheron, one of North America’s favorite draft horse breeds, is thought to have Arabians in their pedigree. Friesians, a Dutch breed, is thought to have Arabian bloodlines. Anytime a breeder wished to imbue elegance, refinement and hardiness into a breed, the Arabian has been the likeliest choice.

Pony breeds too, have been influenced by the Arabian. Welsh Ponies and Cobs are most likely a combination of native pony breeds and Arabians. New Forest Ponies are descendents if the grandson of the Darely Arabian. Even the diminutive Falabella and the sturdy Dales Ponies have been influenced by the Arabian. Some breeds, like the Trakehner, Oldenburg, and Selle Francais have open studbooks, and continue to allow Arabians to help refine the breed.

So critics, have a little respect. Without the Arabian, most of us wouldn’t have the horses we ride.