All About the Arabian Horse: Breed Profile, History, Characteristics, & Facts

The Arabian Horse’s ancestry is as far-reaching as civilization itself, as it is one of the oldest and purest breeds of horses in the world. Available archeological evidence suggests that the history of Arabian Horses dates back at least 4,500 years ago. Eventually European horses were introduced to the ancient Arabian blood through extensive infusion when sturdy medieval war horses were replaced by agile cavalry mounts containing great endurance.

Arabian Horse Breed Profile

History and Origins

The Arabian breed has been meticulously traced by the Bedouin tribes since 3000 B.C., as they kept an ancient form of what we now call pedigrees. Arabians are short-coupled, medium-sized horses designed for efficiency and longevity, as is also evidenced by their lean muscle mass. Thanks to their large lung capacity and efficient metabolism, they are able to carry heavy loads over great distances in extreme heat and with little water. The breed either directly or indirectly contributed to the formation of virtually all modern breeds of horses. Today, the Arabian remains one of the most popular and exceptionally versatile breeds in America.

Arabian Horse Breed Statistics

Height and Weight

The Arabian horse breed averages between 14 and 16 hands, weighing anywhere from 800 – 1,000 pounds. This makes them small compared to most horse breeds. Breeding over the years has slowly made Arabian horses more robust, but they still very much maintain their graceful appearance.

Color and Markings

The Arabian Horse Association recognizes the coat colors of roan, gray, black, chestnut, and bay for this breed. They also sometimes have white stockings or socks on their legs and white markings on their faces. They never come in the colors of palomino, dun, buckskin, or cremello, since purebreds don’t have dilutions genes. Interestingly enough, there is only one spotted pattern that can be found on pureblood Arabians, and that is the Sabino pattern.


Arabian horses have lithe, compact bodies with small, wedge-shaped heads and long, arched necks, thus accounting for their graceful appearance. They have high tail carriages, and their eyes are set very far apart on the head. Everything about them says that they are smooth and graceful, and there should be no “rough edges” visible on a purebred.

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Unique Characteristics of the Arabian Horse

Arabians are known for their long, arched necks and high tail carriage. They have floating gaits and are smooth to ride for their size. Here are a few characteristics, unique only to the Arabian horse.

The first unique characteristic is known as a Jibbah, which is simply a name for an Arabian’s bulging forehead that the Bedouins considered to be a blessing from God. They believed that the larger an Arabian’s forehead was, the more blessings the horse would bring to them. Next is their Mitbah, which is the area where the head attaches to the neck behind the ears along the topline of the neck and the throatlatch. To the Bedouins, the Mitbah symbolized courage. Finally, the Arabian was also prized for a petite, refined muzzle that could “fit into a teacup.”

Arabian Foal

Arabian Horse Temperament 

Arabians are generally social with people, but they are very intelligent and sensitive. Easily able to develop bad habits, they won’t cooperate with inept training or with the wrong handler. They are typically great to work with and easy for experienced riders.

Grooming the Arabian Horse

Like most breeds, typical grooming, especially after exercise, will help keep their coat and skin healthy. However, if you are intending to use your Arabian horse for show then it is important to protect their manes and tails through careful grooming and bathing.

Nutrition for the Arabian Horse

Arabian horses require a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water in their diet. With ancestors coming from the desert, however, this breed may not need as much feed as others in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Common Health Issues for the Arabian Horse

Unfortunately, Arabians are prone to several genetic disorders, ranging in seriousness from treatable to fatal. A few of them include severe combined immunodeficiency, lavender foal syndrome, and cerebellar abiotrophy. Severe combined immunodeficiency is a disorder in which a foal is born with no immune system and typically dies quickly from an infection. Lavender foal syndrome is a disease in which a foal has several neurological issues that are usually fatal. Finally, cerebellar abiotrophy is an often-fatal neurological disorder that affects balance and coordination in foals.

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Arabian Horse Common Uses and Talents

Arabians are the dominating breed worldwide in the disciplines of competitive trail and endurance. They are also popular in English and Western pleasure, driving, dressage, cutting, jumping, polo, and reining. As previously mentioned, in historical times they were used as war horses and were extremely popular all across Europe.

Facts About the Arabian Horse

There are ancient superstitious or religious beliefs attached to many of the Arabians’ characteristics. These traits were highly sought after and became the focus of the Bedouins’ selective breeding practices.

The Bedouins purposefully selected Arabian horses in their horse breeding programs for their unique ability to bond with humans. This explains why the Arabians are especially cooperative and quick to form partnerships with humans.

Famous Arabian Horses

Arabians have played prominent roles in history in that they were used to carry important people in war, performed starring roles in books and movies, and won races. For example, Napoleon Bonaparte’s favored mount was an Arabian named Marengo. Cass Cole was an Arabian that starred in the 1979 movie “The Black Stallion,” which also starred Mickey Rooney and was based off of Walter Farley’s novel of the same name. Finally, an ancient Arabian by the name of Skowronek is known for passing down his genes to generations of North American Arabian horses.

Is the Arabian Horse Right for You?

There are a couple of things to consider when looking at if you’d like to own an Arabian horse. While it is true that Arabians can be amazingly loving and loyal companions, they do require an owner with a good amount of equine experience to train them as they are highly intelligent hot-blooded horses. This breed also remains fairly active well into their golden years, so you should expect to deal with a high-energy horse for roughly twenty years.

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How to Adopt or Buy an Arabian Horse

With the Arabian breed being quite popular, they are easy to find for sale or adoption. When looking to buy a well-bred Arabian, however, it can be very expensive as they are usually easy to train and work with despite their hot-blooded nature. A simple Google search can easily show numerous options for adopting an Arabian, which can be much cheaper than the former option.

Arabian Horse FAQs

How much does an Arabian horse cost?

An Arabian horse averages between $5,000 and $20,000, with horses from prized bloodlines sometimes costing considerably more.

How big do Arabian horses get?

Arabians mature to be between 14 and 16 hands tall, making them one of the smaller breeds. 

Where do Arabian horses come from?

Arabian horses were first known to be in Europe, around the Bedouin tribes. 

Are Arabian horses good for beginner riders?

No, these horses require more experienced owners and riders due to their high intelligence and hot-blooded nature.

How rare is an Arabian horse?

This breed is not rare at all and is actually quite popular due to its trainability and availability. 

What is the most common color of an Arabian?

Arabians are most commonly found to be gray, though they can also often be found often with chestnut or bay-colored coats. 


With a history as far-reaching as civilization itself, the Arabian horse is a popular breed in America. Known to be active in their lifestyle, those with experience as owners and riders will find this breed to be a good match, especially if they are looking for a good horse to be used for many varieties of disciplines. They may have some potential health issues and be occasionally difficult to work with due to their high intelligence, but the versatility and lovable nature of the Arabian horse easily makes up for any difficulty a new owner may encounter. 

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer
    December 9, 2022 / 4:47 am

    Cass Ole was the name of the horse used in the Black Stallion movie.

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