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A Treasure from Arabia

30 Oct 2017

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A Treasure from Arabia

By Noelle Alyagout

The Arabian horse, known for his unsurpassed beauty, lively spirit, strong character, and great courage in battlefields, is a living treasure and integral part of Arabian history. The elegant features of this exceptional equine include his sculptured, refined head, his small pointed ears, his long, arched neck, his graceful stance, and his vibrant intelligent eyes.

The origins of the Arabian horse are difficult to confirm. Some historians trace the horse to northern Syria, southern Turkey, or the area along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent near the Euphrates in Iraq. Other historians offer evidence that the horse originated in the southwestern part of Arabia near three great river beds. Regardless of its beginnings, by 1500 B.C.  this mighty horse had been domesticated by the people of Eastern lands. The horse was harnessed by the Pharaohs for use with chariots, and by the Empires of the Babylonians, Hurrans, Hittites, Kassites, Persians, and Assyrians as instruments of war. They were also widely used throughout the East as a communication 'pony express'. Legends abound about this hot-blooded horse of great power and courage.

The Arabian horse is also known for his loyalty. The horse was an important part of the Bedouin people's survival in the desert and great care was provided to the animal. In return, the animal has demonstrated remarkable allegiance and devotion. The gentle, affectionate nature of the horse is now an inherited trait and Arabian foals show no fear of man.

The Bedouin established strict traditions of breeding to keep the breed 'asil' or pure. Five highly valued strains, or families, of the horse were bred, known as  'al-khamsa' or the five. In Arabia they are called the Kehilan, seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani, and Hadban. Each family can be recognized and identified by tis characteristics. Many Arabian horse pedigrees can be traced back to desert origins. Substrains developed as the horse was exported to Europe and the Far East. Cross breeding the pure Arabians with international strains has resulted in well-known horse breeds such as the Throughbred, the Lipizzaner, the Andalusia, and the American Quarter horse.

For horse enthusiasts interested in owning or viewing an Arabian horse, stud farms are located in Kuwait and throughout the Arabian Gulf. The Derrinstown Stud farm empire in Dubai, UAE (owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry) has made a name throughout the international breeding and racehorse world. The 1998 highest-rated race horse, Intikhab of Derrinstown stock, was also the 1999 Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner. Additionally, the Derrinstown horse Istabraq is a champion hurdler in Ireland.

Locally, in one of Kuwait's well-known stud farms, Ajmal Farms, is the magnificent horse known as Ansata Hejazi. This beautiful snow white stallion was brought to Kuwait at great expense in 1999 by Mohammed Al-Mazouk for the purpose of breeding. Presently, there are a number of stud farms and private breeders in Kuwait. To assist local breeders, the government is sponsoring a project known as 'The Arabian Horse Center' which has recently purchased the horse Ansata Sirius. Under this project and through the efforts of local breeders, the purebred Arabian horse will be restores to its native land.

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