Interested in low level dressage and trail riding…Can anyone tell me about Arabians that are bred for Endurance as opposed to the “show” and “halter” bred Arabians? Typical temperament, trainability, good brain???, soundness, and ability to do other disciplines, such as dressage and leisurely trail riding? Thanks!
They’re probably much better mind-wise than halter-bred Arabs, which strike me as flakey. I like Arabians anyway and have had a lot of fun with them. I prefer working-type Arabs, something bred to do a job & not just look pretty.
A good Arab has a good brain, is smart (sometimes too smart), trainable, and versatile. My last Arab did Second Level dressage, evented (low stuff – I was getting old!) and worked cattle. He was a good boy.
Are you looking at horses from a specific breeding program that is focused on endurance? Or a bloodline group associated with endurance?
Are you just looking for “endurance-bred” Arabians or are you also interested in looking at ones bred for sport discipline (dressage, jumpers, etc.) ones, too?
Not specificially endurance-bred, but I have a half arab mare out of an Arabian racing-bred mare who was later sold on to be an endurance prospect.
I wasn’t aware there were too many specific endurance lines being bred in this country, but I do know there is a lot of overlap between the breeding of both Arabian endurance horses and flat track runners.
I don’t find the temperament of racing arbs to be much different than any arabian: inquisitve, smart, more likely to trend towards hotter/spookier, but not in a way that is unmanagable for the amateur to handle. They tend to be less typey than their main ring halter-bred relatives, which means you often get a better loin/croup/hind end for dressage and general riding. All in all they have above average soundness, but stifle injuries always seem to be more common in arabs than other breeds.
One of the best things about arabians in dressage is that they have “big” gaits for small horses, but those gaits are very rideable. Another great thing about arabs is that while they aren’t necessarily built uphill, you rare have one with truly downhill movement like you might encounter in other breeds. They have a natural self carriage that lends itself well to dressage.
Yeah. there are only a few endurance specific breeders (Asgard and Belesemo) are two of the best known. There are a few others. As you mentioned, flat-racing programs are another common source of excellent endurance horses.
For sound, sane Arabians suitable for lower level dressage and trail riding there are a variety of sources. I’m most familiar with CMK bloodlines because those are the horses that I was attracted to starting in the mid-90s. Those lines have produced both good endurance horses and good dressage horses, and are generally too “old-fashioned” to be considered for “halter” or modern “show” type, though they have been successful in the sport disciplines both in all-breed and breed-restricted competitions.
I’ve only had experience with one full Arabian, and then also a little Quarab pony. The Quarab was well behaved and a nice ride, even if he was a bit mischievous at times. The Arabian was owned by an older woman and was an absolute gentleman and a pleasure to have in the barn. I’ve never really been partial to the Arabian-type, and I’ve got no idea what his breeding was, but if I had the disposable income, I’d snatch another one like him up in an instant.
The owner of the Arabian once told me the stereotypical “hot-headed, flighty, little Arabian horse” was just a trope, and not really an accurate representation of what the ideal temperament is. Originally bred by nomadic tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, they wouldn’t have tolerated dangerous horses around their children. Additionally, since they were bred as war mounts, they really would have had to be quite brave as well. There have obviously been many generations since then that might not have prioritized those traits, but if I had to find a breeder who did still prioritize those things, I’d image the endurance lines are where you’d find them.
I started my dressage career on a purebred Arabian. After that, my daughter and I were quite involved in Arabians for several years; she with Western Pleasure and Horsemanship; me with dressage. While my initial horse was not particularly suited in temperament, he was sound. I also think that temperament can be a huge factor. I have met literally many, many sane Arabs and soundness is generally super.
The endurance bred Arabs will be a little on the lean side, with not big muscle mass, but dressage can help build more topline. Half Arabs can also be super: my half Arab was National Top Ten at 4th Level Dressage and went on to garner USDF Silver Medals for at least 6 riders. At 26, he is still sound and in lighter work (not doing PSG). He was my first FEI level horse and I would take another like him in a second.
I still love the Arabs, but my main focus is now on the PRE’s and Lusitanos, given their proclivity for collection and somewhat bigger size available.
Just look at the individual in front of you. Make sure they have a good gas pedal. Smart is a given, but you have to be able to direct that smartness. Soundness is usually fairly dependable. For lower level dressage, make sure the horse will lower its poll a little and move over its back, tracking up at the trot and overtracking at the walk…
Some of us are still breeding this temperament. In addition to the soundness and athleticism, the stellar partnership and friendly personalities are what made me fall in love with the breed. When I sent my homebred stallion to the 70 day stallion performance test, he earned a 10 for character and 9-9.5s in the other interior scores (rideability, willingness, temperament, etc.)
I just leased one of mine to a 12 year old for dressage and to start jumping in Pony Club. I sold a green broke 3 year old to an adult amateur who was seeking a sane sound partner. The “Steady Eddie” type is very common in the lines I am breeding. They are a joy to handle and train. As I am getting older and less brave, I appreciate their wonderful temperaments and trainability more and more.
Same horse with an amateur over fences:
Definitely capable at dressage:
I looked. My heart skipped. I was into the Davenports, the foundation mares of a lot of the foundation of Kellogg mare lines (along with the Hamadie desert bred lines), then came the wonderful Crabbet horses that were crossed with them.
I looked at the pictures, I saw the expressive faces and horses with SUBSTANCE, almost everything I fell in love with in the Davenports (who are now, sadly, just too inbred, SOB!)
If I was thirty years younger and a lot richer I’d be buying a horse from you. Good work!
@DawnJL Such beautiful horses and my goodness, look how tight those knees are over fences!!! I love it! Maybe you’ll make an Arabian lover out of me yet. They really are such sweet horses and I’m happy to hear that some breeders are still prioritizing those temperaments.
If you don’t mind me asking, how tall do yours (or similarly nice tempered lines) end up? We’re hoping to buy a small ranch in the next couple of years and for now I’ve just been “window shopping” for a horse for my husband. He’s not really a “horse person” per say, but does enjoy some adventurous trail riding and wouldn’t be happy thrown on some dead-broke packer. The challenge is that he’s 6’4", which would certainly mean I need something on the taller end of the spectrum. I think he’d really enjoy the temperament if I could find one that he wouldn’t just absolutely dwarf. Not to mention, I would enjoy the peace of mind.
Hi DawnJL. What bloodlines do you breed? Do you have any horses for sale? Where are you located? Thanks!!
Dr Hilary Clayton has done marvelous things with Arabs and dressage. Not breeding but training and riding. As a kid I rode nationally for a woman who bred Polish Arabs. We/she had Synbadson, a son of Synbad, a grandson of Raffles. VERY athletic horses.
Good eye, Jackie. I have CMK bloodlines (Crabbet, Maynesboro, Kellogg) --“CMK” also includes Hamidie and Davenport lines; it’s a bloodline group based on a network of early breeding programs in the US. I’ve got a good blend of many of the core CMK foundation programs. These “old-fashioned” lines are still wonderful for producing sound sane horses.
These bloodlines mostly produce 14H-15.1H. When crossbred for Anglo-Arabs, Shagya-Arabs, or WBs you can get more height (16H+) and retain the temperament.
autumn50, I’m in Vermont. I’m hoping to get stuff organized to get some of the greenies back under saddle and start the next ones soon. I’m working on getting some help here at the farm so I can be ready to offer a few horses for sale. (We are still getting re-oriented from pandemic shut-down.)
My website is down for a redesign, so for now my horses can be seen on the farm’s Facebook page: Faerie Court Farm and the stallion’s page: FCF Oberons Vanity
Here’s Synbadson’s pedigree There’s a blend of Crabbet with some Egyptian. Skowronek in this pedigree counts as both Polish (because he was bred/born there) and Crabbet (because he was used at Crabbet stud)
I absolutely treasure the Raffles lines – they give balance and wonderful character --even generations removed-- and quite often make good jumpers.
I have taken two main ring, halter-bred horses and turned them into endurance horses. So, I actually wouldn’t be too scared to look at a horse that is athletic but had a halter career.
These are smart horses, and can transition to a sport horse career at the lower levels. It’s not unheard of to go higher, just unfashionable right now.
As the owner of the sole dressage Arab boarded at a main ring Arab barn, I’m going to be a bit of a contrarian here. My horse’s sire is as main ring, English pleasure as could be, but he puts an incredible mind on his babies. Mine just happened to be the one who didn’t get saddle seat motion, but he is smart, kind, and sensible. His three full brothers are super English horses, but again, smart and sensible. And, of the horses currently with the Arab trainer, all but one are amateur friendly and could easily be retrained to dressage.
One of my local Arab buddies has a purebred horse showing at PSG, training for GP, who places extremely well at open dressage shows. He’s main ring, English pleasure bred.
Soooo, as has been said many times on COTH, take a look at the horse in front of you. Be willing to take a look at the ones who washed out of main ring or who are never going to make it there at all. Look past a lot of the behavior that is man made (and may be able to be undone) and take a look at the horse underneath. Until Arabs are widely bred for sport, you gotta be willing to go looking in places that don’t initially seemed like good sources for sport types.
And this is said somewhat tongue in cheek, but take horses advertised as endurance prospects with a grain of salt. Realize that a horse advertised as an endurance prospect may be crazy - endurance is often thought of as the outlet for the really nutsy ones. Whether that’s fair or not, and it probably isn’t any fairer than assuming that all english pleasure horses or all halter horses are nuts, it isn’t unusual to see “endurance” as a suggestion for hot, hot, hot horses.
Bloodlines tell you something, but they don’t tell you everything!
@oldernewbie I definitely agree. I grew up with main ring Arabians (also a lot of Crabbet blood), showing halter and riding English pleasure. Arabians don’t get their reputation for versatility for no reason; there is no reason to exclude an Arab on paper just because of its breeding. The breed on the whole is so darn versatile.
And until @DawnJL pointed out there is some endurance breeding in this country, I also thought many Arabs advertised that way were “crazy” wash outs. It’s one of those disciplines that gets thrown around in advertising when someone has a horse that isn’t going nicely in the arena for whatever reason… like barrel racing for western horses.
I’m also a believer in evaluate the horse as an individual so would not rule out prospects from halter or rail class show lines.
That said, there is also value in encouraging support for people interested in riding and breeding Arabians from outside the shrinking gene pool of main ring bloodlines.