Have you considered an Arab as your next horse? Tips on how to find the right one

  • Whether you’re looking to buy an Arab horse, or had never even considered the breed before, then this advice might be helpful.

    Would an Arab horse be suitable for me?

    The Arab horse is one of the world’s most distinctive breeds of horse. It’s arguably one of the oldest breeds still in existence and it is recognised by key traits such as a dished head, high tail carriage and extravagant movement. While pure-bred Arab breeding is still thriving among dedicated enthusiasts in the UK and overseas, the bloodlines have contributed to nearly every modern light horse breed. The part-bred Arab is a hugely popular cross, too, and horses and ponies with Arab blood can be found in many competitive disciplines.

    Arab horses typically stand between 14.1hh – 15.1hh but are compact and strong in stature. They are known for being quite highly-strung animals that enjoy work, but the temperament largely depends on the individual animal. While they can be a good choice for a competitive rider with performance ambitions, those horses with a quiet disposition can make ideal mounts for leisure riders.

    What can I do with an Arab horse?

    Arabs have their own classes within the show ring, with finals for pure-breds being held at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and Royal International. The Arab Horse Society of Great Britain also holds shows for in-hand and ridden Arabs, and many breeders and enthusiasts use these shows as a lead up to the global stage, with many opting to travel to Europe and the Middle East with their horses to compete for international titles.

    Arabs are popular endurance horses due to their stamina and ability. Due to the harsh environment they were bred to survive in, the Arab horse has strong endurance capabilities making them ideally suited to this challenging discipline.

    Arabs are definitely not one-trick horses and they are capable of performing multiple jobs, including jumping and dressage.

    The part-bred Arab is an equally popular choice that is capable of being enjoyed in many different spheres, with the Arab adding refined qualities, endurance and athleticism to the other parent. The showing of part-bred Arabs is also a popular sector, and classes specifically for this cross-bred are found at all major shows.

    What should I look for in a ridden Arab horse?

    Sian Warman has ridden and produced pure-bred Arab horses at top level for many years. She is a regular face in the pure-bred ridden Arab final at HOYS, and she has also won the supreme of show at the Arab National Show and supreme ridden title at the British Arab championships during her career.

    She describes what she’d be looking for in a prospect for the show ring and beyond: “First and foremost, I’m looking for a good base. Everyone has their own opinion on type, but I am not a lover of the taller, more sporty types and I prefer the more compact types that have a leg at each corner. I need to be able to look at the horse and see where the saddle will sit. I’m looking for all the features of a good Arab which include a set of strong, big side eyes and expressive nostrils that lead into the dished head. I’d be assessing the head carriage and neck line as well as the tail set, which should be high. We want nice, sound bone, well proportioned feet, long, sloping pasterns and sturdiness of the croup.

    “Movement-wise, they must be straight. I do like a big mover, but their step must come through the shoulder. It’s this action that gives them that long, elegant stride. Personally, I like to think of my ridden Arab as a mini hack. I am looking for elegance combined with beautiful movement, a rhythmical canter and evidence that they can carry the rider.

    “Upbringing is important, too. I like all of my horses to do other things, such as hacking and pole work, so it’s important that they have been raised well and have seen a bit of the world.”

    Where should I buy an Arab horse from?

    If you want to buy an Arab horse, they will be advertised at various times in the season on online platforms, including with Horse & Hound, powered by Whickr.

    “I would suggest going to a breeder with a good record,” says Sian. “Do your research into a breeder’s history to see what they’ve bred over the years, and possibly get into a discussion with them to see what they have available.

    “I would also look at certain lines and see which sire’s stock you favour. For example, the stallion Emerald J has produced many top ridden horses currently out and about on the circuit. There are also consultants in the Arab world who do a lot of selling.”

    How much should I expect to pay?

    “The prices of horses can vary massively, as in any type,” Sian says. “Many top horses with show ring CVs can be priced in the double figures. A horse that has been shown to a good level, or a promising novice, can easily fetch between £6,000 and £10,000. The bloodlines can also determine prices and breeding stock with successful in-hand records can go for really good money.

    “A proven in-hand horse, though, that has been successful in the Middle East or aboard might not make a mega ridden horse for the UK circuit.”

    I’ve agreed to buy an Arab horse, what now?

    It’s strongly recommended to arrange a pre-purchase vetting when you have found the right horse.

    The vet will assess the horse with the specific job you want it for in mind. It’s important to let the vet know prior to the vetting what you hope to do with the horse. The vet should pay close attention to any conformational faults which could impact its future in any sphere, even if they don’t affect soundness or performance.

    “It is always recommended that you get a horse put through a vetting, especially if you are spending a certain amount of money,” says Sian. “I would always get the basic assessments done, and then you can take what you want from that.”

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