Horse anatomy 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 jibbah by the Bedouin , that adds additional sinus capacity, believed to have helped the Arabian horse in its native dry desert climate.
This structure of the poll and throatlatch was called the mitbah or mitbeh by the Bedouin. In the ideal Arabian it is long, allowing flexibility in the bridle and room for the windpipe. 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.
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. This specimen also has only 5 lumbar vertebrae.
Some Arabians, though not all, have 5 lumbar vertebrae instead of the usual 6, and 17 pairs of ribs rather than However, the croup is formed by the sacral vertebrae. The hip angle is determined by the attachment of the ilium to the spine, the structure and length of the femur , and other aspects of hindquarter anatomy, which is not correlated to the topline of the sacrum.
Thus, the Arabian has conformation typical of other horse breeds built for speed and distance, such as the Thoroughbred , where the angle of the ilium is more oblique than that of the croup. Horses bred to gallop need a good length of croup and good length of hip for proper attachment of muscles, and so unlike angle, length of hip and croup do go together as a rule.
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.
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. Like other hot-bloods, Arabians' sensitivity and intelligence enable quick learning and greater communication with their riders; however, their intelligence also allows them to learn bad habits as quickly as good ones,  and they do not tolerate inept or abusive training practices.
Equine coat color and Equine coat color genetics The Arabian Horse Association registers purebred horses with the coat colors bay , gray , chestnut , black , and roan.
Black skin provided protection from the intense desert sun. This color is usually created by the natural action of the gray gene , and virtually all white-looking Arabians are actually grays.
These animals are believed to manifest a new form of dominant white , a result of a nonsense mutation in DNA tracing to a single stallion foaled in Sabino horse One spotting pattern, sabino , does exist in purebred Arabians. Sabino coloring is characterized by white markings such as "high white" above the knees and hocks , irregular spotting on the legs, belly and face, white markings that extend beyond the eyes or under the chin and jaw, and sometimes lacy or roaned edges.
The inheritance patterns observed in sabino-like Arabians also do not follow the same mode of inheritance as sabino 1. Rabicano There are very few Arabians registered as roan , and according to researcher D.
Phillip Sponenberg, roaning in purebred Arabians is actually the action of rabicano genetics. However, a roan does not consistently lighten with age, while a gray does. A tobiano patterned National Show Horse , a type of partbred Arabian 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.
Because purebred Arabians cannot produce LWS foals , Arabian mares were used as a non-affected population in some of the studies seeking the gene that caused the condition in other breeds. Two are inevitably fatal, two are not inherently fatal but are disabling and usually result in euthanasia of the affected animal; the remaining conditions can usually be treated.
Three are thought to be autosomal recessive conditions, which means that the flawed gene is not sex-linked and has to come from both parents for an affected foal to be born; the others currently lack sufficient research data to determine the precise mode of inheritance. Recessive disorder, fatal when homozygous , carriers heterozygotes show no signs. Similar to the " bubble boy " condition in humans, an affected foal is born with a complete lack of an immune system, and thus generally dies of an opportunistic infection, usually before the age of three months.
Recessive disorder, fatal when homozygous, carriers show no signs. The condition has its name because most affected foals are born with a coat color dilution that lightens the tips of the coat hairs, or even the entire hair shaft. Foals with LFS are unable to stand at birth, often have seizures, and are usually euthanized within a few days of birth.
Recessive disorder, homozygous horses are affected, carriers show no signs. An affected foal is usually born without clinical signs, but at some stage, usually after six weeks of age, develops severe incoordination, a head tremor, wide-legged stance and other symptoms related to the death of the purkinje cells in the cerebellum.
Such foals are frequently diagnosed only after they have crashed into a fence or fallen over backwards, and often are misdiagnosed as suffering from a head injury caused by an accident. Severity varies, with some foals having fast onset of severe coordination problems, others showing milder signs. Mildly affected horses can live a full lifespan, but most are euthanized before adulthood because they are so accident-prone as to be dangerous.
As of , there is a genetic test that uses DNA markers associated with CA to detect both carriers and affected animals. This is a condition where the occiput, atlas and axis vertebrae in the neck and at the base of the skull are fused or malformed. Symptoms range from mild incoordination to the paralysis of both front and rear legs. Some affected foals cannot stand to nurse, in others the symptoms may not be seen for several weeks.
There is no genetic test for OAAM, and the hereditary component of this condition is not well researched at present. It is thought to be genetic in Arabians, possibly polygenic in inheritance, but more study is needed.
The affected guttural pouch is distended with air and forms a characteristic nonpainful swelling. Breathing is noisy in severely affected animals.
Medical management with NSAID and antimicrobial therapy can treat upper respiratory tract inflammation. Surgical intervention is needed to correct the malformation of the guttural pouch opening, to provide a route for air in the abnormal guttural pouch to pass to the normal side and be expelled into the pharynx.
Foals that are successfully treated may grow up to have fully useful lives. Fight Off Arabian Lethals is a clearinghouse for information on these conditions. Antoine-Jean Gros , c. One origin story tells how Muhammad chose his foundation mares by a test of their courage and loyalty. While there are several variants on the tale, a common version states that after a long journey through the desert, Muhammad turned his herd of horses loose to race to an oasis for a desperately needed drink of water.
Before the herd reached the water, Muhammad called for the horses to return to him. Only five mares responded.
Because they faithfully returned to their master, though desperate with thirst, these mares became his favorites and were called Al Khamsa , meaning, the five.
These mares became the legendary founders of the five "strains" of the Arabian horse. This legendary stallion was said to be faster than the zebra and the gazelle, and every hunt with him was successful, thus when he was put to stud, he became a founding sire of legend. 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. To thy forelock, I bind Victory in battle. On thy back, I set a rich spoil and a Treasure in thy loins. I establish thee as one of the Glories of the Earth I give thee flight without wings.
Men shall follow you wherever you go; you shall be as good for flight as for pursuit; you shall fly without wings; riches shall be on your back and fortune shall come through your meditation. Horses with these features appeared in rock paintings and inscriptions in the Arabian Peninsula dating back years.
The modern concept of breed purity in the modern population cannot be traced beyond years. Most evidence suggests the proto-Arabian came from the area along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent. Where there was no pasture or water, the Bedouin fed their horses dates and camel's milk. Weak individuals were weeded out of the breeding pool, and the animals that remained were also honed by centuries of human warfare.
Arabians were bred to be war horses with speed, endurance, soundness, and intelligence. Horses of the purest blood were known as Asil and crossbreeding with non-Asil horses was forbidden. Mares were the most valued, both for riding and breeding, and pedigree families were traced through the female line.
The Bedouin did not believe in gelding male horses, and considered stallions too intractable to be good war horses, thus they kept very few colts , selling most, and culling those of poor quality.
Raswan felt that these strains represented body "types" of the breed, with the Kehilan being "masculine", the Seglawi being "feminine" and the Muniqi being "speedy". Purity of bloodline was very important to the Bedouin, and they also believed in telegony , believing if a mare was ever bred to a stallion of "impure" blood, the mare herself and all future offspring would be "contaminated" by the stallion and hence no longer Asil.
Horses with oriental characteristics appear in later artwork as far north as that of Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. While this type of horse was not called an "Arabian" in the Ancient Near East until later, the word "Arabia" or "Arabaya" first appeared in writing in Ancient Persia , c. For example, a horse skeleton unearthed in the Sinai peninsula, dated to BC and probably brought by the Hyksos invaders, is considered the earliest physical evidence of the horse in Ancient Egypt.
This horse had a wedge-shaped head, large eye sockets and small muzzle, all characteristics of the Arabian horse. By , Muslim influence expanded across the Middle East and North Africa, by Muslim warriors had reached Spain, and they controlled most of the Iberian Peninsula by Their war horses were of various oriental types, including both Arabians and the Barb horse of North Africa.
Though it never fully dominated the heart of the Arabian Peninsula , this Turkish empire obtained many Arabian horses through trade, diplomacy and war. A stud farm record was made of his purchases describing many of the horses as well as their abilities, and was deposited in his library, becoming a source for later study. One of the most famous was Muhammad Ali of Egypt , also known as Muhammad Ali Pasha, who established an extensive stud farm in the 19th century.
However, after Abbas Pasha was assassinated in , his heir, El Hami Pasha, sold most of his horses, often for crossbreeding, and gave away many others as diplomatic gifts. At its peak, the stud of Ali Pasha Sherif had over purebred Arabians. After his death, Lady Anne was also able to gather many remaining horses at her Sheykh Obeyd stud.
Note the differences in tail carriage of the various horses in the painting. The Arabian's high-carried tail is a distinctive trait that is seen even in part-blooded offspring. Arrival in Europe[ edit ] Probably the earliest horses with Arabian bloodlines to enter Europe came indirectly, through Spain and France. Others would have arrived with returning Crusaders  —beginning in , European armies invaded Palestine and many knights returned home with Arabian horses as spoils of war.
Later, as knights and the heavy, armored war horses who carried them became obsolete, Arabian horses and their descendants were used to develop faster, agile light cavalry horses that were used in warfare into the 20th century. By , the Ottomans reached Vienna , where they were stopped by the Polish and Hungarian armies, who captured these horses from the defeated Ottoman cavalry.
Some of these animals provided foundation bloodstock for the major studs of eastern Europe.