Last Updated on March 30, 2022
Arabian horses are recognizable to horse lovers around the world, notable for their floating, elegant gait, and refined, delicate features. However, did you know that there are also different types of Arabian horses? Each type has its own characteristics and traits, and many people prefer one type of Arabian horse.
If you’re a fan of Arabian horses, you’ll know that this breed has a long and interesting history. Let’s take a look at the Arabian horse and the different Arabian horse types.
What Is An Arabian Horse?
Originating from the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian breed of horse is one of the world’s oldest horse breeds. Unlike other breeds of horses, the Arabian has changed little over the centuries, with breeding programs aimed at maintaining the characteristics of the breed rather than modifying them. Arabian horses are also known as Arab horses.
The hot-blooded Arab horse is a fine, light breed which is easily recognizable. The Arabian horse breed has retained traits which were bred into them thousands of years ago. They are light-footed, swift, and athletic, and have an intelligent and lively nature. Used to go into battle in hot desert conditions, Arab horses are tough and rugged – despite their fine and dainty appearance!
What Are The Different Arabian Horse Types?
The types of Arabian horses are all classified as the same breed. The type is determined by the area in which they are bred. Each different type has its own breed register.
There are six types of Arabian horses: Egyptian, Russian, Polish, Spanish, Crabbet, and Shagya. Each type of Arabian horse has their own unique characteristics and history, although they all possess the traits of the Arabian that we know and love.
Considered to be the purest of all the types of Arabian horses, the Egyptian Arabian can trace its bloodlines back to the Bedouin tribes of Arabia. The purity of this bloodline has been maintained to this day, unlike the other types of Arabian horses on our list. This is because no interbreeding with other types of Arabian horses has taken place.
This Arabian horse type is elegant and refined; therefore, they are greatly sought after by fans of this breed. It tends to be smaller than other Arabian horse types and has a pronounced dished face and a high tail carriage.
Sadly, despite the efforts of breeders of Egyptian Arabians, they now account for just 2% of the overall Arabian horse population.
Arabian horses were introduced to Eastern Europe in the 17th century. They quickly became popular with Russian nobility, who established an intensive breeding program. This involved crossing different types of Arabian horses to get the characteristics they desired.
The Russian Arabian horse originated from about 30 horses brought from the Middle East. These original horses were crossed with the Polish and Crabbet Arabians, creating the Russian Arabian type. They almost became extinct after various conflicts, including the Russian Revolution and the Second World War. Luckily some Russian Arabian horses survived, helping breeders to reinstate a successful breeding program.
This beautiful horse is calmer than its desert counterparts and is also larger in size. Solid and athletic, the Russian Arabian type was bred to be the ideal racehorse.
Many different countries invaded Poland during the mid-16th century. Some of these invaders rode Arabian horses, and the Polish would capture these horses as prizes of war. They quickly established a breeding program to build their own population of these highly-admired horses.
Polish Arabians are elegant horses, with arched necks and high set tails. They are easy to train and are more level-headed than some other types of Arabian horses. Polish Arabians are highly sought after and are particularly admired in America.
The Crabbet Arabian is an English line of breeding, originating from the 18th century. The Crabbet Park Stud began by breeding from the best Egyptian Arabian horses to be found in the Middle East. This stud maintained the purity of the Egyptian type for many years. However, in recent years the breeding program began to diversify, resulting in a sturdier type of Arabian horse. This became known as the Crabbet Arabian.
The Spanish Arabian is the rarest of all the different types of Arabian horse. Just 1% of all remaining Arabian horses are of the Spanish Arabian type. This type has huge, alert eyes and an athletic physique.
Organizations are currently working to increase the numbers of this beautiful type of Arabian horse. In the past, the Spanish Arabian has won several equestrian sports championships and breeders are hoping to boost the popularity of this type of Arabian horse.
In the mid-1700s by the Hungarian military developed the Shagya Arabian type. Because of intensive crossbreeding, the Shagya Arab is the least pure type of Arabian horse. The Hungarian military crossbred imported Arabian horses with other types of horse, aiming to create the perfect cavalry horse. This type is larger and has a greater jumping ability than other types of Arabian horse.
Different Strains Of Arabian Horse
There are also 5 different strains of Arabian horses. A strain is a family or bloodline within a particular breed of horse, and traditional Arabian horse breeders often value the strain over the type of horse. Horses within a strain often all originate from one common ancestor.
The 5 recognized strains of Arabian horse are:
- Keheilan – This strain is usually grey or chestnut and is deep-chested with a broadhead.
- Abeyan – A long-backed and high-tailed strain, with a unique coloring which is a blend of grey and white.
- Hadban – A medium sized strain of Arabian with a strong and sporty body shape.
- Seglawi – Normally bay in color, and smaller than other strains with a chiseled bone structure.
- Hamdani – A sporty and muscular strain of Arabian, larger in size and grey or bay in color.
The Arabian horse is an ancient breed, famous for its fiery temperament and delicate appearance. This breed consists of 6 different types, each with its own distinctive features. Horse fans around the world love the Arabian horse breed. However, their lively and unpredictable nature can make them unsuitable for some equestrian disciplines or novice riders.
We would love to hear your thoughts about Arabian horses. Have you ever owned or ridden one? Perhaps you have a favorite type of Arabian horse? Add a comment below this post and we’ll get back to you!
How many types of Arabian horses are there?
There are many ancient horse breeds, but Arabian horses are thought to be one of the oldest on the planet. These horses have been originally used by the Arab people for work and war. But with time, the horses were traded and moved to different countries around the world where they were bred to adapt to their new environment. Eventually they developed their unique traits, different from horses living in other countries and environment, even though they were all the same Arabian breed. This led to the development of different types of Arabian horses as we know them today. Nowadays there are six types of purebred Arabian horses: Egyptian, Russian, Polish, Spanish, Crabbet, and Shagya. Though they all share same main characteristics of the Arabian breed, each type have their unique traits and history.
Are Arabian horses friendly?
The Arabian Horse is a very intelligent horse with excellent manners. It is the most versatile of all horse breeds and can be used for many different jobs. They have been selectively bred for generations to develop a perfect balance of power, athleticism and grace. They are generally good natured, but can be unpredictable. They have a reputation of often being impulsive and sometimes temperamental, especially when they feel their position is threatened. They may also be hot-headed and high strung. But the character really depends on an individual horse and if you spend some time with them, you’ll find out that their behavior largely depends on how you treat them and how safe and comfortable they feel around you.
How do I know if my horse is Arabian?
The Arabian horse is more refined than any other breed of horse. It has a refined head, finely sculpted face, long arched neck, large eyes, large nostrils, small muzzles, and high tail carriage. Those features are the reason that the Arabian horse is often described as the most beautiful horse in the world. The entire appearance of this horse breed exudes energy, intelligence, courage and nobility. The best thing about the Arabian horse is that he gives off a graceful, noble impression even when moving at a trot. The Arabian horses are the epitome of grace and elegance, especially when they perform their well-known floating trot.
Are Arabians good trail horses?
Arabians are well known for their versatility and their stamina which makes them one of the best breeds for endurance races. For the same reasons they are also very popular as trail horses. Trail riding demands a lot of strength, agility and balance which are all the qualities that Arabian horses posses. They have a great ability to adapt and to train for different types of riding and they have the hardiness to do well on any terrain.
What are Arabians used for?
The Arabian horse is a versatile breed that can do many things. It’s perfect for dressage, trail riding, and any other use where you want a small, athletic horse. The use of this horse breed expanded from its original purpose of being a war horse to other uses including endurance racing, polo, dressage, western cutting, and trail riding.
Arabian horses became famous as warhorses during the Crusades. They were a very effective fighting animal because of their speed, stamina, and power. Arabians are also used for breeding but they were never used as draft horses. They were not strong enough to pull loads over long distances. That duty was left to mules and donkeys.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse
care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since
she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local
stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She
has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in
various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the
patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went
on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in
the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of
horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for
educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN REVN RVN A1