Basic differences between Arabian Horse Strains
by Samantha Kroese
This is an example of the ‘ideal’ Arabian conformation as posted by the American Arabian Horse Association: http://www.arabianhorses.org/home/faq/AskExpert4.asp (scroll down to diagram)
(which as you can see is quite different than the profile of the typical halter horse these days)
You can see their discussion of the important parts of Arabian conformation here: http://www.arabianhorses.org/home/faq/AskExpert4.asp
Although the Arabian is known for some pretty obvious things. They’re a compact short backed horse with an arched neck, small muzzle (teacup muzzle means they fit in a teacup) with large nostrils, a pronounced ‘dish’ in the face between the forehead and the muzzle, and small elegant ears. They are also known for their large expressive eyes.
While there are exceptions to every rule I’ll try to quickly discuss the main conformation points of the strains as I’ve learned them over many years of research. This is of course my opinion and may differ from others.
Generally strain refers to where the lines came from originally. Straight Egyptian are considered to be the purest originally coming from the deserts in Arabia and some can trace all the way back to the desert. Most other strains formed when these horses were imported and bred by state studs in different countries.
Straight Egyptian –
Straight Egyptian horses tend to be smaller. They can have a range of head types but most tend to lean toward exotic with a defined dish. Large eyes, small muzzle with large nostrils, small elegant ears. Neck and back should not be too long. They are generally dainty in appearance. They are known for their stamina and are used a lot of times for Endurance racing. Well known Example: Morafic - http://www.majezticarabians.com/Morafic.html
Polish Arabian –
Polish Arabians in general are bigger horses for the breed (meaning taller and heavier). They are exceptionally gifted for Park and performance because they can have very high animated action when they move. Well known example – Bask: http://www.arabs-iowa.com/AFH-Bask.htm
Russian Arabian –
Russian Arabians are generally sporty and have more of a Thoroughbred look to them. They excel at flat racing. Well known example: Pietuszok - http://hrarabianhorses.com/pietuszok.html
Crabbet/CMK/Old English –
English Arabians tend to look very much like a welsh pony with an Arabian head as that’s the look their breeder encouraged. They are small and pony-like with beautiful heads. Well known example: Raffles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raffles_%28horse%29
This is usually what it’s called when you mix a bunch of the other strains together. They can look pretty much like any of the other strains, or a mix of them. Well known example: Khemosabi - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khemosabi
Spanish Arabians have a DEFINITE Iberian look to them but still very much an Arabian. They usually look like someone crossed an Andalusian with an Arabian (though they are still purebred Arab). They tend to have shorter necks than some of the others, but very flashy moving with long thick manes/tails. Examples from the Spanish Arabian Society’s Stallion page: http://www.spanisharabianhorsesociety.org/Stallions.html
I just wanted to give everyone a very basic idea of how the strains differ. Obviously an Arabian is an Arabian is an Arabian, they all are very similar and of course should all LOOK Arabian first. The strains developed generally from breeders want to breed pure horses for a specific type/purpose.
*Note: I don’t claim to be THE expert on Arabians. I will admit to being mostly into Egyptians so they are what I know best (even though my boy is Egyptian x Polish in breeding).