Average Height: 14-15.2 hands Colors: any solid color including bay, black, chestnut, & grey. May also exhibit “rabicano” characteristics (“roaning” appearance, white hairs throughout coat and/or predominantly in flank and girth areas, as well as tail).

WH Carolina Blu, a 14 year old SE Arab mare owned by Martha & David Lucas of Whitehaven Plantation and loved by Alyssa Fix of Statesville, NC. Photo by The Summer House

Ask your average person about the Arabian horse, and they’ll usually describe a beautiful, yet hot & spirited steed – pretty to watch, but not something they’d want to ride every day. Yet, ask your average Arabian owner and they’ll tell you stories of never-ending loyalty, a “do-anything” attitude, and above average intelligence and sensitivity. Once someone has been enchanted by the Arabian horse, they rarely want to ride another breed!

The Arabian horse is 100% “pure in blood”, as it is the only breed in which no out-cross is permitted, or has ever been permitted in history. The Arab is actually considered a distinct sub-species rather than just another breed due to this. Arabians have been used to create nearly all of our recognized light horse breeds, from Morgans, to Thoroughbreds, to Quarter Horses and even gaited horses.

Cinderella Story, a 16 year old SE Arab mare working cows with then owner Trisha Dingle. “Daisy” is now proudly owned by an 11-year old girl who does pony club with her. Photo courtesy of the owner

There are many “types” of Arabians in the world, but the Egyptian is the rarest and generally thought of as the most beautiful. They can trace their heritage back to the desert origins of the Arabian Peninsula, back to the mares and stallions of Viceroy Mohammed Ali and his grandson Abbas Pasha I. They are considered pure of strain, having come in unbroken lines from Bedouin tribes in the Arabian deserts, who could recite their horses’ pedigree from memory. If you follow the pedigree back far enough of today’s Egyptian Arabian, you will finally come to a line that simply says “Desert Bred”.

Tum-dressage – WH Marengo, a 12 year old SE Arab stallion owned and shown in second level dressage by Trisha Dingle of Hickory, NC. Photo by Judy Robichaux

When Abbas Pasha was assassinated in 1854 his fabled stud was disbanded and his horses scattered. Many were exported to England and became part of Crabbet stud, owned by Lady Anne Blunt (descendents of these horses now known as “Crabbet Arabians”). Others ended up in Poland (“Polish Arabians”) and still others in Russia (“Russian Arabians”). While descending from the original desert-breds, these other types were bred for various characteristics and not necessarily staying true to the original Bedouin ideals. The true original “desert bred Arabian” was in danger of extinction, until the Royal Agricultural Society (R.A.S) was formed in Egypt in 1908 to assure the preservation of what was surely an historic national treasure. The R.A.S is now known as the Egyptian Agricultural Organization (E.A.O).

Desert Sword, a 24 year old SE Arab gelding with breeders/owners Martha & David Lucas of Whitehaven Plantation in Bishopville, SC. Photo circa age 14 – Sword has been successful in halter, flat track racing, and is an endurance champion as well as having been David’s personal riding horse. Photo courtesy of the owner

As a desert horse, the Egyptian Arabian was bred for strength, heart, and stamina. They were prized by the tribes that bred them, so beauty was also an important characteristic, as was loyalty. It is said that in the case of a sand storm Bedouin chiefs would leave their wives and children outside while their prized broodmares were kept in the tent for safety. Ask anyone who rides an Egyptian nowadays, and they will tell you this heart and loyalty is still very much present.

In the United States, The Pyramid Society was organized to help preserve this incredible horse in America. Every year in June the Egyptian Event is held at the KY Horse Park in Lexington, as a way to showcase the breed in halter and performance classes. Educational seminars for breeders, trainers, and prospective owners are held all week, and it is a wonderful way to learn more about the breed and to connect with other admirers.

WH Marengo, a 12 year old SE Arab stallion, schooling cross country with owner Trisha Dingle of Hickory. Photo by The Summer House

Although known primarily for their exquisite beauty – a large dark eye, “dished” profile, pronounced forehead (known as a “jibbah”) and long arched neck – like other types of Arabians the Egyptian excels at more than just halter classes. Because of their strength and stamina they make incredible endurance horses. Their athleticism helps them perform in dressage and other sport horse disciplines (yes, even jumping!), and their beauty makes them appealing western pleasure horses. Thanks to their high level of intelligence, many Egyptian Arabs are used for cutting and working cow horse classes, as well as general ranch work. And despite being considered “spirited” by some, they, in fact, are fabulous youth and family horses – as long as you respect his intelligence the Egyptian Arabian will try it’s heart out for you!

To learn more, visit The Pyramid Society at www.pyramidsociety.org.