Realistic thoughts on Arabians - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Realistic thoughts on Arabians

Hello all :)
So, I'm wanting to get into endurance riding but I'm a bit stuck on what's the best breed that'll fit me temperament wise and be a good endurance candidate. Currently I'm researching breeds, I know Arabians and Arab crosses are basically the king of that particular sport but hearing how hot they are which makes me a bit weary. I had a TB last year, that was HOT and it was nightmare handling him. I ended up finding him a better suited home. He was my first horse that I've owned, the whole situation on how I got him is in a whole story of itself, lets just say I was extremely misled and taken advantage of, saying he was a good horse for a first time owner, which obviously wasn't the case but you live and learn.

But anyway, I know that just like other animals certain breeds get a bad rap just from a few bad apples and things get twisted. Everything educational I've read about Arabians or Arab crosses is they're wonderful horses, intelligent, gentle, sweet natured, etc. but when you hear people talk about them they sound like their devil, snorty, flightly, dangerous to ride or just downright crazy.

I've been seriously considering a mustang for endurance, the way I look at it is being a prior feral animal stamina would be a bit better since if your the weakest one you get eaten. Also, supposedly they're just all around good horses. BUT in saying all that I'm not totally sold on just wanting a mustang.

I've never met an Arabian so I only can go by what I've read and heard. The ads I'm seeing for some arabs are a bit unnerving for me with some the descriptions. I found out what sounded like he was a good little dude. It states all these good things about him, then at the end says he needs a person that understands the Arabian way. What the heck does that mean? I'm not in a rush I know the right horse will show up when its time but I would like to narrow it down to a breed so I can be looking in the right place

Last edited by tinyliny; 06-25-2019 at 03:36 PM.
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post #2 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 10:36 AM
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I've owned and ridden Arabians and part breds that were maybe what some people would call 'hot' but I've worked with just as many that were very laid back and easy going
The first horse (14.2 so in UK terms she was strictly speaking a pony) that I broke by myself when I was 14 was mostly Arabian and TB with a bit of Connemara thrown in. She was level headed and had loads of self control. She wasn't a plod but she wasn't excitable or stupid. She wouldn't have been a pony suited to someone who wanted something that they had to kick on all the time to keep it going and on the whole that's how I find most Arabians and TB's unless they've been trained to race and run with a 'pack'
The part breds my son and I rode here one winter were all more on the lazy side of what I like.

I do find that Arabians can have too much 'mind' for some people. They aren't as easily convinced to do things they don't want to do, or see no point in doing, as some horses.

To me the big decider in any horse that you want to use for endurance, if you're a novice or nervous rider, is how its going to behave when it gets amongst a big group of strange horses that are all on the move
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post #3 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 11:09 AM
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I think that so much of this is self-fulfilling prophecy. Granted, I don't have much experience with Arabians, but I do have some experience with riding horses that, after being presented to me as "forward", "a handful", etc. turned out to be sweethearts. I think people who expect a snorty horse will end up making the horse snorty by being high-strung and anxious themselves, or even provoking the horse on purpose to show off. ("See what I have to deal with? But I always show him who the boss is!" - Lay audience: "Whoa, what a great rider! Dealing with such a devil!")

I am taking some "lessons" at an Arabian breeding farm near my home. (It's a breeding farm, so you know they don't really have "lesson" horses.) The horse I'm riding is a barely 7 year-old Arabian, currently for sale and described as "exciting, moving athlete". That's his description by Arabian standards, in a sales ad. With the help of his trainer (who accompanies me on a more experienced horse), I'm currently starting to ride him on the trail. He's never been out there. He's cautious, yes, but I have had one spook (in place) with him so far, and that was when a sparrow took off from a hedge we were riding past and surprised him. He feels anxious at times, especially in the beginning, but never out of control. I attribute this partially to my riding style: "safety" first, "no drama" second, "fun and excitement" third. I don't show him "who the boss is" when he gets a bit jittery. I don't force him to ride near something that scares him - he may scoot past it at a distance that feels safe for him. I don't micromanage his every step, and I give him as much rein as I can. (Trainer to me when I started riding him, during the warm-up: "Most people don't ride green horses on a loose rein!" - Well, I do. I have seen green horses flip over with riders that don't, because there was no way the horse saw to escape the pressure.) I never had a moment on that horse that'd make me reconsider swinging my leg over again, and I've been riding him once a week since April.

So when you hear from people who describe them as "the devil", consider the rider. Are they the type that can provide leadership, reassurance, and guidance to a sensitive horse, at a level that the horse's prior training prepared them for? Are you such a rider?

In the end, however, look at the individual horse in front of you, and consider the breed a secondary factor. You don't have to work and get along with a breed, you have to work and get along with one horse.
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post #4 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 11:16 AM
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I can only go from personal experience but I have an Arabian (my first horse) and he is a very mellow horse and very forgiving of his novice owner's mistakes. After getting Jester I would never get another breed of horse.
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post #5 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 11:45 AM
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Arabs can indeed be flighty or hot, but some of them are more mellow and easy to handle. My neighbor does endurance with arabs and most of the horses she has had are pretty chill and laid back. However, I would not advise getting a mustang as they are EXTREMELY smart and not the best for someone who is still a little new to owning horses.
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post #6 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 12:09 PM
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To get a sense of how people with Arabs handle an endurance ride, I'd recommend going to some rides near you (look at the AERC wesbite if you're not sure where to find them: Volunteer to help with the vetting or timing, and you'll get to meet nearly every rider and watch how their horses act during a ride. Most people love bragging about all the reasons their horse is great if you ask them to tell you more about how that horse got into endurance That might help you find out who has experienced endurance horses for sale near you, regardless of breed. Pretty much anywhere in the country, Arabs are going to be the most common breed at a ride, particularly for those who are competitive. But it's not exclusively Arabs. For example, I'm in New England, and you'll also find a lot of Morgans and occasionally Standardbreds, TBs, Draft crosses, Kentucky Mountain Horses, or Connemaras at a ride.

Here are a couple of member journals on the Horse Forum with successful endurance riders who ride Arabs but also less common breeds (Paint, Arab/Percheron crosses, TBs):

So much of endurance is psychological, in my opinion it would be way better to be on a horse you trust and feel you can manage rather than a horse you have because it's the type that everyone else has. It's also helpful to know what your own goals are for a "good endurance candidate"- is it racing and winning at 50 or 100 miles, or is it a sense of success and accomplishment in completing a ride? The two don't have to be mutually exclusive, but they might be, and that answer could help you decide what kind of horse you need.
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post #7 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by mehgan6955 View Post
Hello all :)
Everything educational I've read about Arabians or Arab crosses is they're wonderful horses, intelligent, gentle, sweet natured, etc. but when you hear people talk about them they sound like their devil, snorty, flightly, dangerous to ride or just downright crazy. :
People who say these things are:
1) been outsmarted by an Arabian and are embarrassed about it
2) don't want to take the time to understand how Arabians think*
3) don't like their high energy (not crazy or flighty, think Energizer bunny)
4) don't like the high head and tail carriage
5) under estimate them and get beat in the show ring!

*Arabians don't forget ANYTHING! So you need to train them right the first time and if you are abusive in your training methods, they remember and will hold it against you!

They were bred to live in the tents of Bedouins and are very very people oriented and loyal. There are a lot of good older Arabian horses for sale that have been their and done that if you are apprehensive of a younger horse. I think I saw an Arabian win an endurance race at 27 yrs old.
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post #8 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 12:33 PM
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Ok so I have 2.5 Arabians and compete in distance riding so I'll give you my opinion.... I'm certainly no expert and hopefully @phantomhorse13 will chime in because she has ridden zillions (at least it seems!) of Endurance horses....

Chico (Lad's Switch Blade) is my almost 18 year old purebred Arabian. We bought him as a 15 year old who was kid safe/only liked to walk. On a whim (actually because we didn't have any other horses ready) we brought him to a novice distance ride (12.5 miles). Turns out he loves it! He's very fast and lives for the trail but ALWAYS has brakes/listens when you tell him to. The only time *knock on wood* anyone has fallen off of him was when he tripped and my husband went over his head.... He's Polish bred and very steady. He wants to go, don't get me wrong, but he listens. I would do anything for a clone of him.

Jake (TRJ Just Jake) is my 9 year old Egyptian Arabian. He was a halter horse in his younger days and came to us very spooky and used to life in a small paddock and indoor arena riding. We've had him a year and a half and he's done one novice distance ride and will hopefully be finishing his first 25 mile Limited Distance ride in the next month or so. It has taken him this long to get used to uncontrolled situations. He can get a little hot but is quickly learning that he can't do whatever he wants. He is very smart and a fast learner.

Lilo is my 1/2 Arab 1/2 Paint. She's only 4 and is just going to the trainer this weekend for under saddle training but I can't wait until she's ready to start competing. We bought her a year ago as a basically wild untouched not even halter broke filly. She has been the calmest/fastest learning horse I've ever met. The only time to my knowledge she had ever been in a trailer was when we brought her to our farm last year and it took 4 people and closing her in with cattle panels to get her shoved in the trailer. Last night I decided I better start working on trailer training so she can go to the trainer so I walked her up to the trailer and she jumped right in. She has been exposed to tractors/4 wheelers/cars/trucks/chickens/dogs/ducks/deer/etc and takes everything in stride. The first time she had ever had a saddle on she acted like it was an every day occurrence.

I rode my APHA mare almost 300 miles in Limited Distance rides (and would still be riding her this year except she seems to have tweaked something in her back so I'm letting her heal). She has great recoveries and is as steady as they come but she doesn't have the speed that my other horses have. However she has more heart and loves competing more than anything. She never gets hot, never races, never wants to chase down the horse in front of her..... Just wants to do her job and finish.

My DH just finished his first 25 mile ride on his Rocky Mountain Horse. Comet was fantastic and even pulsed in faster than Chico at the finish. We finished in the top 3rd of riders that day and they didn't seem tired at all. Comet is a little hot and spooky still but I'm sure after a few more miles he will get over that pretty quickly.

Finally, I do most rides with my good friend and her 6 year old TWH. Major is a fantastic competitor but does get a little hot as well.

Anyway, long story short try out a bunch of horses and see what you think! Even between Arabian's their personalities are very different.

Also, I agree with @egrogan we need more information on your goals. I only aim to finish, currently we are at 25 mile distances but I'm *fingers crossed* hoping to do a 50 at our next ride. Wanting to finish vs. wanting to win can make a big difference as well.

Obviously you need some pictures of my kids (HAHAHA):

Chico (Bay Arab in Green)
Jake (Chestnut Arab in purple)
Comet (Chocolate Rocky in Blue/Green)
Stitch (Solid Chestnut Paint in Pink)
Lilo (White/Chestnut Paint looking half arab)
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post #9 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 01:52 PM
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My first and second horses were Arabians and I was NOT a confident or experienced rider. My first horse was actually very lazy and he took very good care of me. He was smart and kind. My second one that I bought about a year later was all "go" but he was not spooky or hard to control. He just couldn't stand still and couldn't hardly stay at a walk! But he was actually pretty easy to ride. Because I had NO lessons and no experience riding when I got these two. All I had ridden was nose-to-tail rental horses.

I trail rode everywhere on mountain preserves in Phoenix (so had to ride through city streets to get to the mountains) and I rode alone at least 50% of the time. We did great! Yes, there was a learning curve, but I think I was blessed with the right horses. If I had gotten spooky horses I most certainly would have failed.

I only have experience with one BLM Mustang and I bought him already trained. But he was the most honest, reliable, beginner friendly horse you would ever want to meet. I had friends who would borrow him when they had guests and needed a guest horse. He was probably the best horse I ever owned. I don't think he would have made an endurance mount though.....he was built like a chunky little Haflinger. But that was okay, because I am chunky too and just wanted a horse for pleasure trail riding.

So.......I guess my point is it's about getting the right horse, not the breed. Make sure you are comfortable with the horse you pick out, weather it's an Arabian, a Mustang, or anything else. You can't go by the breeds reputation, you have to go by the individual. I'm sure there are a lot of Quarter Horses out there that area spooky and dangerous.

I don't have any experience with endurance, but I would imagine endurance Arabians are among the best Arabians out there because they have seen everything and get a lot of miles. Those two ingredients make for reliable horses.
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There's a lot of stupid out there!

Last edited by trailhorserider; 06-25-2019 at 02:00 PM.
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post #10 of 51 Old 06-25-2019, 02:39 PM
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It might be that Arabians have acquired their "hot and crazy" reputation from the show competitions where "fieriness" (just this side of hysteria) is bred for, trained for, and rewarded highly. The same thing is true of Morgans and I dare say the other breeds shown that way. Indeed to an outsider, the differences between a park style Arabian, Morgan, or Saddlebred are fairly slim and probably getting slimmer all the time.

The few purebred Arabian horses I've been around were trail horses. A lot of go, but perfectly sane. Polish lines in particular seem solid.

Short horse lover
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