arabian horse

Arabian Horse

Arabian Horse

When it comes to the Arabian horse breed, it is easily one of the more recognizable breeds of horse, even for people who are not equestrians or are not familiar with horses on an intimate level.

The Arabian is easy to pick out of a lineup due to its arched tail and dished face, as well as its overall elegance. Arabians were also the cornerstone of most breeds of modern-day horses, as they were one of the first breeds of domesticated horses.

Other breeds of horse can thank the Arabian horse for their athleticism. The Arabian is a breed that has been romanticized over the years, especially in movies and literature. Read on to learn more about the Arabian horse, including features such as its physical characteristics and some of its common personality traits.

Arabian Horse Characteristics

First off, what are the characteristics of the Arabian horse ? There are many specific characteristics that make the breed, and we can thank the thousands of years of careful, selective breeding for this fact. One of the first features of the Arabian is its dished head and face, which is filled by large, wide set eyes. The Arabian also has large nostrils but a delicate muzzle.

This face is one of the defining features of the breed and what makes an Arabian horse an Arabian. In addition to this, the Arabian has an elegant neck, sloping shoulders, and a short back ending in an arched tail. Arabians also have clean legs ending in string hooves. 

Arabian Horse Size

The size of the Arabian horse can also be a distinguishing factor. According to the Arabian breed standard, this horse falls between 14.1 and 15.1 hands high. Arabian mares are usually a bit smaller, on average, than stallions or geldings. If a horse is not yet an adult, then its size is proportional to its age. This breed is one that is smaller compared to other breeds of horse, and there are even myths regarding this!

Arabians first originated as desert horses, so because of this, they were smaller due to the nutrition available there in the desert. The horses also needed to be smaller as they were expected to stay in tents.

The small size of the Arabian horse has an impact on their strength and balance, and it has allowed for great athleticism, too. Arabains can be found in all of the many equestrian disciplines, which is not always the norm with a breed of horse! 

Arabian Horse Weight

When it comes to the weight of the Arabian horse, this breed averages between 800 and 1000 pounds. Just like with height, female Arabians are usually smaller in weight than males. Horses that are not yet adults will have weights that are proportional to their age and height. A fun fact about Arabians is that they have 3 fewer bones in their bodies than other breeds of horses.

They have one less rib and one fewer vertebrae in the back and the tail. Due to this, the Arabian has a unique bone structure. The missing vertebrae is credited for the arched tail and short back that is telling of the Arabian breed. The missing rib is often said to be the reason for their strength and endurance in running long distances. 

Arabian Horse Colors

Another defining feature that can help to differentiate between different breeds of horses is their colorations. A horse’s color can set it apart from other breeds and can help you to determine whether or not the horse in question is an Arabian.

Arabian horses can come in chestnut, gray, bay, or black. Black is one of the least common colors of Arabian horse, though a famous black Arabian is The Black Stallion who is the star of the novel and movie Black Beauty. Half of the Arabians out there are gray horses, and chestnut and bay Arabians are about the same number.

Arabians may also come in roan, though this is not as common as the other colors that we have mentioned above. Roan is when a horse has white hairs that are evenly mixed in with darker hairs— roan Arabians are pretty rare. Purebred Arabians can have white markings on their head, as well as stockings or socks on their legs. All of the horses will have dark skin bases, but light skin bases underneath their white markings. 

Arabian Horse Temperament

The temperament of a breed of horse is also important. Their temperament can have an effect on what equestrian discipline they are best in, for example. Different breeds of horse will usually have similar temperament traits, though the exact temperament of a horse still comes down to the individual level. Arabian horses are known for being a gentle, calm breed.

The horses were bred by the Bedouins and shared tents with them and their families. Arabians have a reputation for being high string, but they are actually gentle, calm, and friendly.

In addition to this, they are very intelligent and will bond closely to their owners or handlers, as they are also a very loyal breed. The Arabian horse was considered to be a gift from God. 

Arabian Horse Care

Arabian horses do not have a particularly difficult care regime, at least not compared to other horses. They are no more high maintenance than other horse breeds. If your Arabian has its diet, shelter, social, health, and grooming requirements met, then it will be able to thrive.

We will go over these different care requirements in more detail further in the article. Like most other breeds of horses, the Arabian has an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years old if healthy and properly cared for. Things such as the horse’s workload, genetics, and diet will affect this lifespan.

Arabian Horse Diet and Nutrition

First, we come to the diet of the Arabian breed.

The most important is forage.

Forage is the name for a combination of grass, water, and hay. All breeds of horse require good quality forage, which will be a source of fiber for their growth and maintenance, as well as help with a horse’s digestive health.

Hay can be a part of the horse’s diet, but should be tested to understand its nutritional value. It is also better to give horses smaller meals and do so at a higher frequency instead. Grain can be another part of a horse’s diet, and many horses eat grain, including the Arabian breed.

Grain is another thing that should be fed to your horse carefully, though, so that the nutritional requirements of the horse’s diet are met, but health problems from too much grain are avoided. Stick to grains that are low carbohydrates and low glycemic index. Another thing to note is that the Arabian breed is not going to eat as much as other breeds of horse, due to this breed’s smaller size. 

Arabian Horse Health Issues

Every breed of horse does have a few common health issues or complications, and the Arabian horse is no different. These are often due to improper diet or nutrition. Some of these health issues may include laminitis, colic, and metabolic issues. Luckily, these issues can be prevented by owners providing their horses with the proper diet and nutrition.

This includes avoiding high carbohydrate and glycemic index grains, maintaining the healthy weight of the horse, and also maintaining a consistent amount of feed for the horse. The common genetic problems of the Arabian horse breed are few, but can be dangerous. First is one that causes lethargy and death in Arabian foals.

Another of these issues causes neurological problems, and there is also a lethal coat color dilution in foals that is called “lavender foals”. The final genetic issue in Arabian horses is compression and cracking of the cervical cord. Luckily, there is testing available for all four of these genetic issues.

Arabian Horse Grooming

Grooming is important to a horse’s health, and this is certainly no different for the Arabian horse. Your Arabian should be groomed daily, and this is not only important for their health, but can be great for bonding with your Arabian horse as well. The social aspect of grooming can help the two of you strengthen your bond! First, use a curry comb to groom your Arabian.

Curry combs stimulate the hair and skin of the horse with both their stiff and soft brush options. Then, you should work on cleaning your Arabian hooves, and make sure to do this daily, too. Regular farrier care is also important for your horse and its hooves.

When it comes to the mane and tail of an Arabian horse, you should pick through them, rather than brush them, and give them patient and gentle care. This will help to maintain the mane and tail’s full, lush look.

Arabian Horse History

As we mentioned previously, the Arabian is one of the first domesticated horses, and in fact, is one of the first domesticated animals! Over the thousands of years that the breed has been domesticated, there are many historical happenings, such as wars, travel, and exploration. We will go over more of this further in the article!

Records show that the Bedouin tribes from the Arabian peninsula were the ones who domesticated Arabian horses. The lineage of the horses can be traced all the way back to 3000 BC. Not only were the horses considered to be a status symbol, but they were also family and a form of currency!

Arabian Horse Origin

So, where did the Arabian horses originate, anyway? This is a breed that hails from the Middle East and from the desert. The desert has a climate where only the strongest are able to survive, and there is limited water and nutrition to be found. The Bedouin lineage can be traced all the way back 4500 years, which proves that the Arabian is the oldest purebred breed of horse.

Before the Bedouin records, the Arabian breed is unknown, so it is not clear how the Arabian horse appears in Egyptian art, too. Arabians were first bred as war horses so that the Bedouins could ride fast horses and raid neighbouring tribes.  

Arabian Horse Historic Development

The selective breeding of the Arabian horse breed was taken very seriously by the Bedouin people. They carefully guarded the purebred Arabian’s bloodlines and passed down the breeding programs through generations of their family members.

They bred the horses to be as fast as possible since their purpose was warfare. Selective breeding involved breeding for the highest levels of stamina and endurance. It was common for the Bedouins to hold races and contests to prove the superiority of their horses.

On raids, they would often steal the other tribe’s horses, especially if the horses were known to have amazing bloodlines. The Arabian horse began to expand outside of the Middle East. It was used to then develop and strengthen other breeds of horses since the breed has many favorable characteristics and traits. 

Famous Arabian Horses

There are many notable Arabian horses throughout history and records. Arabians have been movie stars, have founded new breeds of horse, and have carried military leads, as they were a breed primarily meant to be warhorses. There are even Arabians that are sports mascots, like Thunder of the Denver Broncos football team. We will go over some of these famous and notable Arabians below. 

Cass Ole

Cass Ole is the star of an equestrian film that we all know, at least by name— even if we have not watched the movie. Cass Ole was the horse in The Black Stallion, as well as in the sequel, The Black Stallion Returns. The Black Stallion is one of the highest-rated horse movies of all time! Cass Ole, the Arabian horse, was born in Texas in 1969. Prior to the films, he also had a successful show career and was the sire of 130 foals.

Godolphin Arabian

Another famous Arabian horse is Godolphin Arabian. This horse was one of three horses that are credited with founding the Thoroughbred horse breed, the other two being Darley Arabian and Byerly Turk. Godolphin Arabian was born in Yemen and then presented as a gift to the king of France. Later, the horse was shipped to England. Godolphin Arabaian was known for creating foals that have a lot of speed.


Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous French military leader, rode an Arabian horse. His was an Arabian stallion named Marengo. Marengo was imported for Napoleon from Egypt, and was a brave and loyal partner. He was injured and wounded eight times in battle, and yet he never threw his rider, Napoleon, off of his back. After the French lost the Battle of Waterloo, Marengo entered a new profession— he was exported to England and stood there at stud.

Arabian Horse Legends

Arabian horses were thought to be gifts from God and have a long, complex history. After all, the breed dates back all the way to 3000 BC, and can even be seen in Egyptian art. This is plenty of time for myths and legends to be created surrounding the Arabisn horse breed, and we will go over some of these myths below!

Creation Legend

First, we have the creation legend. This is the one that says these horses were a gift from God. In the legend, God took a handful of the south wind and blew on it to create the Arabian horses. Success is said to be in their forelock, wealth on their back, and treasures on their flank.

Loyalty Legend

Another Arabian horse legend regards loyalty. Muhammed was a spiritual leader who said that he brought his herd of horses to an oasis. When the horses ran to drink, he called them back, and only five mares obeyed him. Those five mares became the founders of the first breed strains, as well as becoming the favorites of Muhammed.

Stamina Legend

One of the Bedouin chiefs was named Ahmed. In the stamina legend, he was riding his pregnant mare when an enemy tribe began to give chase. They shot him, and he slumped over on his horse, who carried him all the way home. A bloody mark remained on the horse, and when she gave birth that night, her foal was born with the same mark on his shoulder. Arabian horses with that blood mark are believed to be rare living legends. 

Modern Arabian Horses 

The Arabian horse is one of the most popular horses on the planet, and with good reason! The bloodlines of the Arabian horse can also be found in just about any other breed of horse. It is a breed found in more than 62 countries across the globe, where breeding continues as well. These days, there are six major types of Arabian horses. These six types are as follows— the Russian, Polish, Egyptian, Spanish, Crabbet, and Shagya. The Egyptian type is the one that is considered to be the purest of the six. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Arabian horse so special?

The Arabian breed of horse is one that has a special brand of respect, in part due to its status as being one of the oldest breeds of horse. In fact, the Arabian is one of the oldest of any domesticated animals! They are known for having graceful movement and athletic endurance. The Arabian comes from the Middle East, originally, and this means that the horse is able to thrive in arid environments that are hot and dry. Plus, on top of all of this, they are a gorgeous horse.

How much do Arabian horses cost?

The price of an Arabian horse can vary greatly. This is true for other breeds of horses, and other domesticated animals in general. The cost of an animal will depend on some factors such as its purpose or its bloodline. The Arabian is a particularly distinguished breed of horse, recognizable for its natural beauty, gracefulness, and fantastic athletic endurance.

The dollar amount, then, is going to be priced accordingly! This is not going to be a cheap breed of horse to get your hands on. The cost of an Arabian horse can easily range between $5,000 and $30,000. If you are after a stallion, an Arabian with a rare bloodline to its name, or a competing Arabian participating in very high-level competitions, then the cost can come all the way up to $150,000!

Are Arabian horses friendly?

Arabian horses are beautiful and graceful, but another reason that they have such a reputation is that they are one of the oldest domesticated animals. As they have been domesticated for several thousands of years, they have grown well accustomed to humans and can work very well with us, as long as they are being treated well and kindly.

In fact, this goes further than simply a tolerance of humans. Arabian horses are very friendly with humans and enjoy pleasing their owners, so they do strive to do so! Since Arabians are so friendly to humans, their foals are not easily startled by sudden noises as you can see in many other breeds of horses.

Why are Arabian horses so strong?

The Arabian horse is a breed that is graceful and beautiful to boot. Some people may assume that this is not a strong breed of horse because they have small and refined bodies. Those who have worked with an Arabian, though, know that this is not true! Arabian horses are a very strong breed and are actually surprisingly strong when given their size and stature.

They may seem that they are stronger than they should be able to be. This largely comes down to the bone density of the horse. Arabian horses have a greater bone density than other horses, as well as sound feet, short cannons, and a broad, short back. All of these different features come together and contribute to the surprising strength of the Arabian breed of horse.