Through wind-swept deserts to green-laden meadows, the Arabian horse has been prized for centuries from Egyptian royalty and Bedouin nomads to modern-day equestrians. Known as the ‘keheilan’, meaning ‘pure blood, through and through’, Arabian horses are one of the oldest pure horse breeds in the world.
Bred to be ‘war horses’ and originating from the Arabian Peninsula over 4,500 years ago, the Arabian horse has been the topic of myth and legend. Bedouin legend retells that Allah created the Arabian from the four winds; spirit from the North, strength from the South, speed from the East, and intelligence from the West. In the midst of creating the Arabian horse, Allah exclaimed, “I create thee, Oh Arabian. 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.”
In A.D. 1121, the first Arabian horse arrived in Britain when Alexander I, King of Scotland, presented an Arabian horse to the Church of St. Andrews. Years later, the breed was introduced by Charles II to British ponies to improve their speed, resulting in great popularity in Britain. Eventually, the Arabian horse landed on every shore across the globe. International trade increased in 1991 with the collapse of the former Soviet Union, greater Egyptian political stability, and the rise of the European Union. Today the Arabian horse is one of the top ten horse breeds in the world.
The Arabian horse is popular for its wide versatility; grace and speed – from cultured dressage dance to competitive endurance races. For hundreds of years the Arabian has been used to refine and improve other breeds. Distinctive features, such as their concave profile and arched neck, separate Arabians from other horse breeds. Their perfect symmetry, disposition, agility and influential conformation is showcased by their beauty, stamina and balance. Intelligent, refined and attractive, Arabian horses will continue to mesmerize the world and remain the horse of legends.
Gina McKnight, Equestrian & Freelance Writer, USA
October 30, 2011