Joined: 17-March 03
Member No.: 64
Shalom and greetings from Israel!
I have been lurking and reading quite carefully the BORN TO PERFORM discussion, and so well understand many of the points of view reflected there. Much of what, for example, both Hansi and Ralph say make sense - I know that Hansi doesn't mean that good type isn't necessary in a good Arabian - I don't think that Ralph wants Arabians that are purely typey head and neck and tail carriage and the ability to trot in a showring but are not fit to be using horses. ( Nor do I believe that this was the goal of the RAS/EAO with their goal of breeding classic horses.) Ralph is a rider. Hansi is a rider. Both love and breed the same breed with a singular passion.
The instructive comments in this thread reminded me that about a year ago, I looked all over the internet for a more or less universally accepted written breed standard for the Arabian horse and couldn't find one. I mean one that describes the standard from "head to foot" , correct conformation, action, charcter, etc - point by point. I was both fascinated and mortified. (I wanted to publish a translated breed standard for our Hebrew/Arabic Breeder's Cup show program. )
The thread about Sport Horse Championships and the commendable judging system used there, got me thinking even more....
So many things are subjective (the terms typey, classic, brilliance), or difficult to define, Where is our common ground? What can we agree upon about the Arabian horse? What can be crystallized about our breed, defined, and described sufficiently well in words? Each of us individually know what we are referring to when we refer to a good Arabian horse. Are we speaking the same language?
Seriously, Who has an Arabian breed standard of 5000 words or less that would be acceptable to us all? Or, perhaps to say the great majority rather than all of us. (Not looking for a fight, only for data).
Now obviously there are complete books on the subject - many of them in my library, but I am wondering whether it is possible to find a succinct, written breed standard that is of perhaps a few thousand words in length that would keep (almost) everyone happy. Seriously. Something that could be published in a show program for "neophytes" as to what are the hallmarks of the breed, or handed out to people who have no previous knowledge. And something to make available on the web - (perhaps even on this exceptional website) for anyone looking for basic information starting from "zero?"
20-25 years ago I used to see this type of information published in general horse magazines. I apologize if I am wrong here about it not being available currently on the web - please set me straight if anyone can find it.
And, please... Anyone with a written example of such a standard, please present it here. Also if there is a date tagged to the standard.
To think about....if there are examples of standards from, lets say 40 years ago and standards from 10 years ago.....what has, if anything, changed in terms of what appears in the accepted written standard? When, who, how modified?
Perhaps a logical place to start to look for a standard would be from the judges on this forum who study before being licensed.
Years ago there was an article in some printed mag - showing how the Gladys Brown Edwards' images of the breed standard (in America anyway) were changed and refined over the years to show a more "modern" type of Arabian. The picture was changed to a more upright, had a longer neck, and a more "modern" croup. Anyone remember ? Any comments? Can anyone post these images? Anyone willing to guess whether a 2003 image be modified in other ways?
So, this post is, I guess, asking three things:
Serious part -'this is my quest', in the immortal words of Don Quiote 1)Is there today a written (more or less) breed standard that we can agree upon ?
Curious part: 2) How is (or Is this) standard different from what that would have been (or was actually) published in, let's say, 1960.
Pragmatic part: 3) What is the acceptable written breed standard that judges study today?
Any takers? LIz, Alia....anyone?...What would you use (or how would you write) the breed standard for the Arabian horse today?
Thanks for listening. Sorry for the rambling. And, as always, all the best!
In Denmark we use this one : (Find it at www.dsah.dk)
About the Purebreed Arabian Horse
The versatile purebreed arabian takes up a special place in the world. As ancestor to practically all lighter horseraces, history has given it fame all over the world. Lots of chapters has been written, and many studies has been made to establish it's origin, but in spite of this, there is far from unanimity, so when and where it came into the existance is hidden somewhere in the past. Science however accepted that the arabian horse had it's current looks up to 20 centuries back.
What does it take to be a Purebreed Arabian ?
This issue has been discused a lot, mostly due to lack of information. Theese guidelines will hopefully avoid disappointments when buying a horse. The easyest way to make sure that you are facing a purebreed arabian is by using WAHO's definition.
A purebreed arabian is a horse listed in any studbook or register approved by WAHO.
- but it can also be explained like this:
A purebreed arabian is a horse who's origin in all generations can be led back to an original arabian (OA), bred in the desert.
On top of that, certain bloodlines are regarded as more valuable than others, but it's always the mothers bloodlines that counts, so many purebreed arabians belongs to it's mothers family. Here are some of the most famous, EL KHAMSA wich mean "the five",: KOHEILAN who is usually rather big and powerfull, but not necassarily the most beautiful. SEGLAWI is considered the most noble and fast one of the five. ABEYAN is called the smallest and most beautiful. HAMDANI, rare but most wanted. HADBAN, not very numerous.
All purebreed arabians are said to descent from these five who has different side lines of breeding. Fables are numerous. One tells that Muhammed and his four most loyal men escaped, riding the five mares, from Mecca to Medina on July 15th the year 622 b.c. whereafter all five horses were marked by the thomb of the profet. That is why the beduins appreciates the neckvertebra.
How can it be used at present ?
Naturally such an old race were used differently from today. Yet, it's amazing how suitable it is as a family horse. It's kind of temper, intelligence and willingness makes it a pleasure to work with for all (grownups and children), and despite it's small size it easyly carries an adult. It's very suitable for pulling a carriage, and it's very enduring. It is also very good in long distance riding.
How much can it cost ?
Any potential buyer or seller must face this quistion. Normally the buyer has to trust the seller who sets the price. The studbook is of just as much value as the exterior of the horse. The upbringing, personality, age, sex and even colour plays a role, which is why a price can't be set so easyly. A potentiel buyer must seak advice from the organization.
The main impression is a small elegant and very noble horse, who is wellbalanced with a lightly curved neck and a high lifted tail.
The head is one of the special marks, that deserved special attention. It's rather small with a wide forhead and the eyes are low, big and alert, and far apart..
The ears are often longer on the mares, than the stallions and has inwards tips.
The cheekbones are big and round and well apart allowing to easyly place a fist between them.
The profile can be straight but the characteristic curved bridge of the nose is very wanted.
The nostrils are long, thin and expands strongly by exertion and increased attention.
The muzzle is very small and can be held in a half closed hand.
The overall impression of the head of the purebreed arabian should be a triangle by frontview. The beduin appreciated the jibbah and its placement, wich should be app. in the middle of the ears and nostrils.
The head combined with the neck is also an important issue. It's called mitbah and runs in a beautiful curve without bend, wich gives good space for windpipes and therefore breathing.
The neck has a good lenght and is beautifully curved.
The body is deep with a good ribvault.
The shoulder is long, sloping, flat and with good space for free movement. It's always higher than the highest point on the croup.
The back is short, straight and the loin is muscular. It goes up a bit where it meets the croup wich is fairly long and straight.
The tail is set right after the back, and it's important that it's held high and straight when the animal is moving.
The legs are cultivated, the upperarm is long, the pibes short, all joints are big and the knees flat.
The pastern is of suitable lenght and the hooves are rather small and hard.
The legs should be straight although many purebreed arabians don't have this.
The movement in walking is free, in trot it's floating and free of the shoulders, in canter it's soft and elastic. All paces are pleasant for the rider.
Serious foults: Untypical head, small highplaced eyes, glasseye, short shoulders, long back, lack of tail lead, crooked legs, pointed muscleless croup and protruding hip bone.
Smaller faults: Human eye (the white in the eye shows) and crooked tail lead.
Colour: The purebreed arabian can have all colours except multicolor. White marks are very common, but the very big ones are not wanted.
Size: Average size is 150 cm., from 146 - 158 cm.
Temper: The temper is just as important as the exterior. Beduins had a very close relationship with their horses and lived with them - often in the same tent. This build a trust between horse and man, that is also wanted today, although the reason is some what different. The stallion should be calm, attentive willing and lively yet dignified. The mare should be a caring mother, but never vicious to others offspring or in a herd. A bad temper is not typical for the race and obviosly the horses temper should never be confused with lack of upbringing, wich only the breeder or owner is responsible for.
Joined: 16-March 03
Member No.: 40
There are multicolored purebred Arabian horses. There is a Khemo son that is multicolored. Anyone think of his name? There are some with belly spots. Rumor has it that Khemosabi had a belly spot, removed. I read from a friend who witnessed Khemosabi's halter win at the Us Nationals one year, there was a major boo in the audience against his win because of his excessive whites. Here is a photo of Trabag, a purebred Arabian horse:
Joined: 17-March 03
Member No.: 64
Shalom from Israel. Thanks for responding, everyone.
Well, the spotted purebred Arab is interesting....thanks for posting the photo...but can we stick to the subject....what about a written standard?
Read the Danish standard carefully. Personally I don't find it nearly adequate- too much left unsaid and/or undefined - and although the information about history and strains is interesting, I don't mean that sort of information when I talk about a breed standard.
When I first open any general book on various horse breeds, I always look up Arabian and more often than not, I get irriated by both what I read, and by the photo that appears beside the breed description.
Show me please, oh ye lovers of the breed, how much better of a job we have done in describing our own beloved Arabian?
Joined: 21-March 03
Member No.: 192
But this is really not that difficult. When you look at some prominent breeds, such as the Tb, Belgian, Frisian, Shetland Pony, clydesdale etc you recognize such as a particular breed-and conformation does not come in at that point. Within these breeds one judges their conformation for what they were designed to do.
the same goes for the arabian horse. Even if some have a straighter face than others, there is still that tail carriage, the particular regality or presence. Once you enter the arabian among other reeds, in most all cases they are recognizeable as an Arabian horse. Here I refer to Asils and SEs or both.
when it comes to conformation, again we have to consider what we want the horse for. I am under the destinct impression, that the arab was wanted for its inheritated qualities of stamina, courage, sure footedness,easy keeper, intelligence and sensitivity, speed, etc.etc. This is why desertbreds were originally imported to europe etc to improve the coldbloods, which they did and with it created a number of new breeds including the successfull TB.
The calvalery used the Arab and crosses. Napoleon rode them, so did various other royalties, or they pulled carts etc. Paintings, Monuments- which were in most cases not exagerated, showed the Arabian horse in its glory.
In each case the Arabian was treasured BECAUSE oF WHAT IT COULD DO.
You speak of standards, and I outlined them. Of course due to the many diferent types within the Arabian breed, I am now talking of the Se's and Asils, you can not fit them into one clichee, but you can fit them into a particular look/presence, etc. which other breeds do not have.
when it comes to conformation, that should be very simple. All horses have good and bad conformation points,and considering the work they have to do, one pays great attention to it. And there is were the clue lies. Without testing for the qualities, how can anybody determine the value, thei abilities? Do you really think our ancestors bred from a stallion they have not thoroughly tested? That would be suicidle and NOT common sense.
Of course breeders of the past were few and apparently highly experienced. Most all were riders/drivers and knew exactly what to look for. So why should this be different today? When I look at a horse I ask myself this" "If my life was depending on a get-away horse, which one would I take!" Can we do this today? I doubt it by enlarge.
A neck is important. Even a short neck, provided there is enough room in the ganashes. A back is important, provided it is not too soft. And the angulation of the rearend is important, because there is where the power comes from. A proportional shoulder is important, because it dictates the length of the stride. The hoofs are important, you dont want platoons, but also not hoofs so small, the horse cant carry itself and you over any terrain. And the legs, tendons,joints are important, to ensure that they dont break down by just a trip around the corner. The attitude also plays a great role and then is the talent, which comes. And then there has to be balance, in appearance and gaits.
As you can see, these qualities are also demanded from other breeds, for what ever they are designed or have to do workwise.
At the end, you again look at the overall picture of a horse to determine its breed.
Joined: 16-March 03
From: Barnesville, GA USA
Member No.: 15
What a question you have asked... really makes one think!! Can we really put the Arabian into one breed standard.. I know that dog breeds do it, and there are differences in size and color, some difference in shape, but all the same breed and usually easily recognizeable as that breed. For instance, German Shepherd, Collie, Chihauhau, Beagle, etc. Long hair or short, one can normally tell what they are with little trouble.
It needs to be that way for the Arabian too... not easily mistaken for Morgan or Thoroughbred, or anything else. When I see Arabian in my mind's eye, I see a horse with an intelligent head... maybe dishy and beautiful, maybe plainer profile...but the large nostrils, dark skin, large dark eyes... not a long head as in some breeds.... and well set on the neck with a pretty nice throatlatch. Hooky neck is great, long neck is great, but even a bit thicker and of medium length works for me, if everything else fits... I have noticed that long necks have longer bodies and the more compact horse may not have such a long snaky neck, but the overall look will be definitely pleasing and Arabian... so that I could stand by an Arabian and a nice Morgan (for example) and not make a mistake in which is what! There is a distinction to the Arabian horse that is almost hard to describe. The build should lend itself to athletic ability without losing the overall beauty of the horse... The high set tail is a given. Not interested in low set tails and a dull look to the horse. Some of the brilliance is in the overall impression one gets when in the presence of an Arabian. I know that my little description is much less than you are looking for... but its what I see in my mind's eye and what I depend on when I am looking for horses...
Some examples of Arabian type and build... on different horses... but pleasing for me to look at and acceptable if I am buying... (mostly not professional pictures)
Joined: 18-June 03
Member No.: 548
I recognize what you are looking for and it is available. Unfortunately, I cannot make it available here. Gladys Brown Edwards published a series of articles in Arabian Horse World about Arabian Horse conformation, which also appeared, in a somewhat condensed form in the marketing literature that was distributed for free by IAHA in the past. Arabian Horse World has taken her articles and published them, along with photography of some of the most beautiful contemporary Arabian Horses of all bloodlines, on a CD that is available for sale, through Arabian Horse World. People who have been involved with Arabians for a long time will recognize the illustration that was used as the breed standard in all of the literature distributed by IAHA.
Joined: 21-March 03
From: Calgary, Alberta Canada
Member No.: 193
I have the CD you're referring to and it was and is an excellent resource. The only problem is it is rather "long winded".
Personally, I think Idan has an extremely good point. I am not aware of a "short and concise" (as in a page long) definition of what the breed standard is. As a newcomer to the breed I found this to be a bit disconcerting when I first began watching the halter classes at major shows. What were they judging? I'll dig up my program from Nationals and find that small explanation they put into the program to describe the various classes.
I also bought a copy of the Youth Nationals Judging guide put out by IAHA. I'll see what it says too as I found it to be quite well written. It does leave some unanswered questions though.
For me - the definition of a breed standard begins with the physical characteristics that set the Arabian apart from other breeds. Higher tail carriage, one less vertabrae in the back hence a shorter back, a slightly dished profile in the head. Those are the ones people readily see at first glance.
Anyone care to continue the list..................
Joined: 17-March 03
From: Texas USA
Member No.: 94
When a class comes into the ring in front of me, the first thing I want to assess is Arabian type. To me this means five things—the head, the short back, the tail carriage, movement and presence. I am so sick of going to the ringside in the US and not knowing unless there is a Palomino or Pinto in there, whether I'm looking at a Purebred or Partbred class. Very often the Purebreds will look like bad Partbreds. Most of the class will be bay with an occasional chestnut or grey !!
Let me elaborate a bit on type. For me, the head should be short—triangular shaped with huge well set eyes, with a good width between them. Large soup plate cheek bones, a small muzzle with large nostrils. The degree of the dish is not so important if everything else is as stated. I have seen lovely heads with a fairly straight profile. The back should be short, although I will forgive it being slightly longer in a mare. The tail must be well set and carried straight and high. When moving I like to see a good overstride at the walk. At the trot, a freedom in the shoulder, engagement in the rear and that snorty presence, which is so typical of the breed, resulting in a reachy, ground covering stride with some elevation—and I don't mean high knee action.
A horse that passes my ideal on type and can move well and freely at the walk and trot, then has to pass my scrutiny on conformation. I'm very hot on good legs and feet, and being a riding person, I want a good front—length of rein with a good shoulder, plus a strong well muscled hindquarter. Club feet, calf knees and offset cannons are my pet peeve, as is a straight shoulder, and short croup/hip. The horse should be balanced in conformation, dividing equally into thirds from the head to the highest point of the whithers, and from the whithers to the hip.
An ultra long neck is sometimes very unbalanced and detrimental, having ridden some of these long, thin necked wonders, it is somewhat akin to being attached to a hosepipe !! Some Americans seem to think that these necks are somehow advantageous for athletic ability—maybe they have never seen the Spanish Riding School perform, or the Schoolof Equestrian Art in Jerez. The shape and set of the neck is more important in my experience.
FYI for comparison purposes, below is the Arabian breed standard as listed in the USAE Rulebook. Listed below that is part of the FAQ list from the AHA site. Although we've discussed this before here, just to clarify, since the AHA info erronously includes the "less vertebrae" comment - Arabians, as a breed, do not consistently have less vertebrae than other breeds.
USAE Rulebook Article 1602. Breed Standards. Comparatively small head, profile of head straight or preferably slightly concave below the eyes; small muzzle, large nostrils, extended when in action; large, round, expressive, dark eyes set well apart (glass eyes shall be penalized in Breeding classes); comparatively short distance between eye and muzzle; deep jowls, wide between the branches; small ears (smaller in stallions than mares), thin and well shaped, tips curved slightly inward; long arched neck, set on high and running well back into moderately high withers; long sloping shoulder well laid over with muscle; ribs well sprung; long, broad forearm; short cannon bone with large sinew; short back; loins broad and strong; croup comparatively horizontal; natural high tail carriage. Viewed from rear, tail should be carried straight; hips strong and round; well muscled thigh and gaskin; straight, sound, flat bone; large joints, strong and well defined; sloping pasterns of good length; round feet of proportionate size. Height from 14.1 to 15.1 hands, with an occasional individual over or under. Fine coat in varying colors of bay, chestnut, grey and black. Dark skin, except under white markings. Stallions especially should have an abundance of natural vitality, animation, spirit, suppleness and balance.
From the AHA site:
Frequently Asked Questions
What is "type" and how can I identify good conformation for an Arabian?
Arabian Type, Color and Conformation
The Arabian's conformation and "type" have been selectively bred for longer than any other breed. Records reflecting desert-bred animals still connect today's Arabian horse's traits with particular traits prized many hundreds of years past. Such documentation makes it possible to retrospectively study heredity, to then predict what good and bad characteristics will be likely to pass from a given stallion and mare into the next generation.The Bedouins of the Arabian desert were dependent for survival on their Arabian horses. While they valued the beauty of their horses, they were equally adamant that their horses were strong, with deep chests, straight legs, large joints and good lungs to carry them across large stretches of their desert homeland.
The Arabian's distinctly eloquent head has been represented artistically for literally thousands of years, to this day appearing in nearly all horse related advertisements for every conceivable equine related commodity. Referred to as "type," defined, described, and judged for centuries, the shape and beauty of the Arabian head remains its most distinctive and sought after quality.In general, Arabians have a short, straight back (usually 23 vertebra as compared to 24 with most other equine breeds), perfect balance and symmetry, a deep chest, well-sprung ribs, deep girth and strong legs of thick density. An Arabian can most readily be identified by its finely chiseled head with a dished face, long arching neck, and high tail carriage.
Although no individual animal will possess all of the qualities described below, the composite, nevertheless, epitomizes the finest specimens observed:
His skeleton is characterized by a relative shortness of skull, a slenderness of the lower jaw, a larger size of brain case. Also to be noted are fewer vertebrae in the back and tail, and more horizontal pelvic bone position.
The Arabian's head is a real thing of beauty, the upper half being larger in proportion to the whole size of the horse, especially in the depth across the jowls.
The head has a triangular shape which diminishes rapidly to a small and fine muzzle, which is so small that it can be enclosed in the palm of the hand. The lips are fine and thin. The nostrils are long, thin, delicately curled, running upward, and projecting outward. In action or when the horse is excited, the nostrils may become greatly dilated.
The eyes are set far apart and are large, lustrous, and , when aroused, extremely attentive. They are set more nearly in the middle of the head.
It is interesting to note that the distance from the top of the head to the top of the eyes is often within one inch of the distance from the lower eyelid to the top of the nostril. The overall appearance of the Arabian head is frequently enhanced by a slight protrusion over the forehead and extending to just below the eyes, called the "Jibbah" by the Arabs, and greatly prized.
The cheek bones spread wide apart at the throat, often between five or six inches, enabling the muzzle to be drawn in without compressing the windpipe, and permitting the animal to breathe easily when running.
The ears, smaller in stallions and of good size in mares, are pointed, set evenly together in an upright position, and of great flexibility.
Generally speaking, the head should be lean, somewhat well chiseled, and showing energy, intelligence, courage, and nobility. The neck is long and arched, set on high, and run well back into the withers.
In height, the Arabian horse generally measures 14.1 to 15.1 hands at the withers, although there are horses which measure above or below this height.
The animal's coat is thick, close, fine, soft, and silky. The mane and tail are long, and very fine in texture.
In weight, the Arab may be from 800 to 1,100 pounds, according to his size, but there are individuals who exceed this weight occasionally.
In color, Arabians are bay, gray, chestnut and black, with an occasional roan. Common markings are stars, strips or blaze faces, as are also snip noses, a white foot or more, or white stockings.
Arabians that appear white are actually gray, since white looking Arabians have black skin. White hair on horses grows out of pink skin as can be found under an Arabian's white markings.
Joined: 17-March 03
Member No.: 64
Liz, thanks so much for responding. Nice to see through the eyes of a judge - and to hear about both your pet peeves and the first things you look for in the judging ring. Are there written descriptions among the materials you studied when studying for your judging card that you can post here?
Beth.....you are a God send - thanks for taking the time to posting and crediting the rule book and AHA material. This is getting closer to what I mean as a breed standard. Well done.
Joined: 17-March 03
From: Texas USA
Member No.: 94
I meant to also add that my impression of type is when the horses first enter the ring, and therefore it is at a distance. The conformation comes with the close up inspection when each horse is presented. Liz Salmon
Joined: 21-March 03
Member No.: 192
Hi tzvia and all
All is well said and a number of points were actually adopted through Gladys Brown Edwards.
Gladys was an old buddy of mine, and while I often did not agree with her, just the same we respected each other. while she was once our Guest of Honour, she admitted that she always wanted a "Horse" but only got a "Wooden rockinghorse" and never once was on a living horse. Her perceptions, she furthered on, were in some cases from the earlier Polish horses. She was never that fond of SE's but did give credit. She adored Serenity sonbolah.
Indeed, SE's have different head chapes, for instance in various lines the length from cheekbone to start of the mouth is much longer than in other types. You find these often in the Hadban Enzahis and also in the Saklawias and some Kuhaylans. the Dahman Shahwans,if a great percentage is in their pedigree, do have a shorter distance between the cheekbone and jawl. At least, this is what I noticed over the years.
Looking at older photos from Raswan and others, also in it are the longer cheekbones, which I personally have always preferred. I did not see mumpsy heads with bulging cheeks, but a man's fist would fit into it. Invariable, such heads as mentioned, fitted the overal bodytype of the Arabian horse. One cant have a pony size head on a horse 15,1 and more. And also does not want a large one on an Arabian 14,2 and under. All has to be in balance.
What I noticed frequently is the dimension of the hocks. Instead of clear,clean large, they are swimmy and lack dimension. At the same time I see gaskins poorly muscled, by birth, not due to lack of exercise alone. the same goes for the forearms infront. Not always is a huge V-shape form seen and in many cases the cannon bone does not fit 2,5 times into it. Sometimes knees are meaty, rather than flat and tendons not as clean and clear as a mountain stream. In most breakdowns, it appears in the hocks and front tendons (bogs, bows) which then can lead to breakdown of the ankles, if these also are not good.Of course, tight ins and offsets, too small feet or clubfeet are a nono. And a a very wide chest fits at best on "Waggon pulling horses". I look at the depth of the girth area, where lunges and heart sit- they dont sit sideways-
Often I see galls, even in the hock areas and around or above the ankels. that spells trouble, it is painful in most cases and can render a horse lame. Galls can occur through overworking. They can be treated.
I can forego a bit of a shorter croup, provided hip/buttock/stifle are long/deep with good angulation.
Most al SE's and Asils I have seen, have flat knees, while other bloodlines did not. One does not want a flat knee in warmblood, I guess.
So each to its own, and all horses have a build for a particular purpose. We simply cant make a jeep into a Ferrari and visa versa. So we must look for the type of conformation to suit our riding purposes best. And then there are always those exception which stunn us