The Arabian horse is one of the best known and highest esteemed breeds. Out of all the breeds of horses we have today, the Arabian is among the oldest, meaning that it was one of the first modern breeds to come into existence. These horses come from the Arabian Peninsula, which is where they got their name.
Arabians are very graceful and unique looking horses, making them easy for even beginning horse people to recognize. The Arabian horse typically has a very slender, delicately boned head and face. The narrow nose, flared nostrils, and aristocratic concave profile are extremely recognizable. Arabians also tend to be smaller than many other breeds, averaging about 14 or 15 hands when measured at the withers, the bony ridge along the horse’s backbone where the mane ends. A hand equals four inches, so the average Arabian is no more than five feet tall at the withers.
Although the Arabian horse is on the small side, it is also known for its speed, agility, and endurance. Because Arabians are hot-blooded horses, meaning that they are smaller and more lightly muscled than cold-blooded horses such as draft horses, their muscles are able to cool faster. As a result, Arabians get fatigued less easily and are often raced over very long distances. This quality has caused this horse to become a very popular choice for experienced horse people.
Another quality that contributes to the Arabian’s popularity is its personality. Although Arabians are often known as high-strung horses, they are also kind and intelligent. Their intelligence makes them easy to train, while their gentle, personable natures make them bond more easily with their owners and handlers. The result is a horse that learns quickly and is eager to please.
The star of Walter Farley’s book The Black Stallion is probably the best-known Arabian horse in popular culture. The Black Stallion is a children’s novel about a boy who is stranded on a desert island where he befriends a wild Arabian stallion, and when he is rescued, brings the horse home with him. The book became wildly popular after it was published in 1941, and inspired an entire series of books about this popular Arabian and his progeny.
The Arabian horse has been so influential on the breeding of horses over the centuries that many other breeds, such as the Thoroughbred and the Missouri Fox Trotter, were created by mixing Arabians with other breeds. To this day, the Arabian horse remains many horse people’s favorite breed of horse.