Exploring equine breeds: The Arabian

Follow the “Exploring equine breed series” to learn more about the variety of horse breeds available to horse enthusiasts!

Arabian horse MSU Cadee poses for a picture at the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center. Photo credit: Wendy Peterson | MSU Extension

Arabian horse MSU Cadee poses for a picture at the MSU Horse Teaching and Research Center. Photo credit: Wendy Peterson | MSU Extension

This is the second article in a Michigan State University Extension series that explores the large variety of horse breeds available to horse enthusiasts! In Part 1, we learned about the American Quarter Horse. Here in Part 2, we’ll learn about one of the most popular equine breeds in both the nation and around the world: the Arabian! In addition to exploring this breed, we’ll discuss its deep roots in the Michigan State University (MSU) Horse Program.

The Arabian breed dates back to 5000 B.C., making it one of the oldest known breeds of horse. Although they are now found throughout the world, the Arabian horse originated in the desert climate of the Middle East.  Arabians are easily recognizable with their distinct concave head, large dark eyes, somewhat small stature and high tail carriage. The average height is between 14.1 to 15.1 hands (a hand is 4 inches). The temperament of Arabians can be described as alert, sensitive and intelligent. They have been successful in nearly every discipline, including trail riding, dressage, hunter, saddle seat, equitation, western pleasure, racing and much more. Although a breed of much versatility and talent, Arabian horses may be best known for their endurance.

The Arabian horse has long been popular at MSU, which is home to one of the oldest continuous Arabian horse breeding programs in the United States. The MSU Arabian breeding program began in the 1940’s with the W. K. Kellogg donation of the Arabian stallion Amidore. Later, the importation of the Egyptian stallion *Ghalii in the 1960’s and the purchase of the Crabbett mare *Silfretta (the 1956 champion yearling filly of England) set the standard for the breeding program which continues to this day.

Today this legacy continues on at the MSU Horse Teaching & Research Center, which has the primary mission of educating the next generation of Michigan horse persons and solving industry problems through applied scientific research. For those purposes, it has always been the philosophy at MSU to maintain the highest quality livestock on our farms. Current or prospective students interested in research, breeding, teaching, training, coaching and farm management will find MSU Horse Programs offer many hands-on opportunities and the Arabian horse provides a wonderful versatility for these learning opportunities. Want to learn more? Check out this great video highlighting the MSU Horse Programs, or this great video tribute to the program’s importance!

Stay tuned for more exciting articles about common horse breeds.

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