Pearls of the desert Arabian Horse


The people in the Middle East are popularly called Arabs. But for horse lovers, the word Arab refers to the Arabian Horse, a beautiful elegant horse breed with a good temperament and extremely loyal character.

arabian horse (by

Arabian horses in the United Arab Emirates

The Arabian Horse

The Arabian or Arab Horse originates from the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula (now Yemen) or South-West Saudi Arabia. The current breed, in Arabic known as Hyssaan Arabi, is almost 5000 years old. According to the legend prophet Mohamed galloped through the desert for hours to flee to Medina. When he let his horses drink water only five mares returned. These mares (Al Khamsa) are assumed the five mothers of the Arabian breed.

Meanwhile, the Arabian Horse has spread all over the world, firstly during tribal wars in the Middle East. Later through trade and to ennoble other horse breeds. Their blood flows in almost all horses in the world, from the Dutch Friesian Horse and the English Thoroughbred to the Australian Brumby.


The Bedouins and the dry climate in which the horses needed to survive developed the Arabian breed. The horses had to be fast, strong and silent to entrain for wars. They only had little food and water. Therefore, the horses were fed camel milk and dates in times of scarcity. Only the strongest horses remained standing. These were stalled in the Bedouins tents, to protect them against theft, the harsh climate, and predators.

Graceful and elegant

Arabian horses are graceful and cute at the same time. The Arab has a small head with big bright eyes, small pointed ears and a finely shaped nose with wide nostrils. It is especially recognizable by its concave nose line, a kind of dent or concavity on the front of the head. Europeans love it. Bedouins and horse breeders, on the other hand, appreciate a big ‘jibbah’, the space between the eyes, because it increases the capacity of the sinus. Horses with a strong concave profile are seen as nervous wrecks, probably because they are less adapted to the dry and warm air than their fellow horses. A striking feature of Arabs is that they have 17 pairs of ribs, one pair less than other breeds.

Arabian horse

Arabian horse (painting by William Barraud,1844)

Arabs are just elegant. They do not walk; they parade with flexibility, especially in trot. With their tails lifted and their necks gracefully arched when galloping through the desert they catch the eye. Because of their graceful movements, Bedouins affectionately refer to their mares as “Daughters of the wind”. But despite their small and delicate stature, they are incredibly strong. They are fast and have an unbeatable endurance. This combined with their ‘hot-blooded’ nature, intelligence and loyalty make the Arabian horses one of the best breeds to ride, train or compete with. As a result of their stamina, they dominate in various equestrian fields, including the most favorite ones of the Middle East, horse racing, and endurance riding.

Endurance race

More information about endurance riding can be found here or in my story about the endurance race where I ended up between honking cars that were following the horses like wolves in a pack.