The Desert Arabian Horse

The original Desert Arabian

The original Desert Arabian horse was developed by the Bedouin, the semi-nomadic peoples who survived in the harsh conditions of Arabian Deserta. This area includes much of today’s countries of Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Yemen. The Bedouin treasured their horses and developed an oral tradition, passing stories about famous mares and battles from generation to generation.

Arabian horses were taken from the desert to Egypt, Europe, the UK, and North America, especially in the 18th-19th centuries, where they were used to develop other breeds of horse and the contemporary Arabian breed. Horse breeding in the area of origin declined substantially as the Bedouin became more settled. Today there remain a few families and breeders that maintain traditional breeding.

In the West, there have been efforts to retain the characteristics and breeding traditions of the Bedouin by breeding only horses that can be traced entirely back to desert origins. By the 1950s, fewer than 2 percent of registered Arabians met this criteria. Concerned breeders formed organizations to try to perpetuate various heritage groups.

The number of Desert Arabians peaked in the mid-1980s, but breeding has declined dramatically during the past 25 years. Both the decline in breeding and the loss of genetic diversity threaten the future of the Desert Arabian horse, a situation that led to the founding of the Institute for the Desert Arabian Horse.

Today, the Institute conducts historical and scientific research, conservation, and education projects around the world to assure a future for the Desert Arabian Horse.

Read more about the unique Desert Arabian and the critical need for conservation action. Check our Library for additional articles.

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