Wednesday, 12 August 2009

ARABIAN and LUSITANO Horses

ARABIAN

The Arabian horse is a breed of horse that originated in the Middle East. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is one of the oldest horse breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses from the Middle East spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and good bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.

The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people, often being brought inside the family tent for shelter and protection. This close relationship with humans has created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. But the Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.

"The Versatile Arabian" is a slogan of the breed. Arabians dominate the discipline of
endurance riding, and compete today in many other fields of equestrian activity. They are one of the top ten most popular horse breeds in the world. Arabian horses are now found worldwide, including the United States and Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, continental Europe, South America (especially Brazil), and its land of origin, the Middle East.

Arabian horses have refined, wedge-shaped heads, a broad forehead, large eyes, large nostrils, and small muzzles. Most display a distinctive concave or "dished" profile. Many Arabians also have a slight forehead bulge between their eyes, called the "jibbah" by the Bedouin, that adds additional sinus capacity, believed to have helped the Arabian horse in its native dry desert climate. Another breed characteristic is an arched neck with a large, well-set windpipe set on a refined, clean throatlatch. This structure of the poll and throatlatch was called the mitbah or mitbeh by the Bedouin, and in the best Arabians is long, allowing flexibility in the bridle and room for the windpipe.

Other distinctive features are a relatively long, level croup and naturally high tail carriage. Well-bred Arabians have a deep, well-angled hip and well laid-back shoulder. Most have a compact body with a short back. Some, though not all, have 5 lumbar vertebrae instead of the usual 6, and 17 rather than 18 pairs of ribs. Thus, even a small Arabian can carry a heavy rider with ease. Arabians usually have dense, strong bone, sound feet, and good hoof walls. They are especially noted for endurance.

Some people confuse the refinement of Arabians with having weak or too-light bone. However, the USEF breed standard requires Arabians have solid bone and correct conformation, and the superiority of the breed in endurance competition clearly demonstrates that well-bred Arabians are strong, sound horses with good bone and superior stamina. At international levels of FEI-sponsored endurance events, Arabians and half-Arabians are the dominant performers in distance competition worldwide.

Another misconception confuses the skeletal structure of the sacrum with the angle of the "hip" (the pelvis or ilium), leading some to assert that the comparatively horizontal croup and high-carried tail of Arabians correlates to a flat pelvis and thus they cannot use their hindquarters properly. However, the croup is formed by the sacral vertebrae. The hip angle is determined by the attachment of the ilium to the spine, the structure and length of the femur, and other aspects of hindquarter anatomy, not necessarily the angle of the sacrum. Thus, the Arabian has conformation typical of other horse breeds built for speed and distance, such as the Thoroughbred, which properly includes the angle of the ilium being more oblique than that of the croup, the hip at approximately 35 degrees to a croup angle of 25 degrees. The proper comparison of sacrum and hip is in length, not angle. All horses bred to gallop need a good length of croup and good length of hip for proper attachment of muscles, and the two do go together as a rule. The hip angle, on the other hand, is not necessarily correlated to the line of the croup. Thus, a good-quality Arabian has both a relatively horizontal croup and a properly angled pelvis with good length of croup and depth of hip (length of pelvis) to allow agility and impulsion. Within the breed, there are variations. Some individuals have wider, more powerfully muscled hindquarters suitable for intense bursts of activity in events such as reining, while others have longer, leaner muscling better suited for long stretches of flat work such as endurance riding or horse racing.

The breed standard for Arabian horses, as stated by the United States Equestrian Federation, describes the Arabians as standing between 14.1 and 15.1 hands (57 to 61 inches (145 to 155 cm)) tall, "with the occasional individual over or under." Thus, all Arabians, regardless of height, are classified as "horses," even though 14.2 hands (58 inches (147 cm)) is the traditional cutoff height between a horse and a pony. A common myth is that Arabians are not strong because of their size. However, the Arabian horse is noted for a greater density of bone than other breeds, short cannons, sound feet, and a broad, short back; all of which give the breed physical strength comparable to many taller animals. Clearly, for tasks where the sheer weight of the horse matters, such as farm work done by a draft horse, or team roping, any lighter-weight horse is at a disadvantage, but for most purposes, the Arabian is a strong and hardy breed of light horse able to carry any type of rider in most equestrian pursuits.

Arabians are noted for both intelligence and a spirited disposition.

For centuries, Arabian horses lived in the desert in close association with humans. For shelter and protection from theft, prized war mares were sometimes kept in their owner's tent, close to children and everyday family life. Only horses with a naturally good disposition were allowed to reproduce. The result is that Arabians today have a temperament that, among other examples, makes them one of the few breeds for which the United States Equestrian Federation allows children to exhibit stallions in nearly all show ring classes, including those limited to riders under 18.

On the other hand, the Arabian is also classified as a "hot-blooded" breed, a category that includes other refined, spirited horses bred for speed, such as the Thoroughbred and the Barb. Like other hot-bloods, Arabians' sensitivity and intelligence enable quick learning and greater communication with their riders. However, their intelligence also allows them to learn bad habits as quickly as good ones, and do not tolerate inept or abusive training practices.

Some people believe that it is more difficult to train a "hot-blooded" horse such as the Arabian, Thoroughbred, Barb and Akhal-Teke. However, most Arabians have a natural tendency to cooperate with humans, but when treated badly, like any horse, can become excessively nervous or anxious, though seldom become vicious unless seriously spoiled or subjected to extreme abuse. On the other hand, romantic myths are sometimes told about Arabian horses that give them near-divine characteristics.

Arabians are versatile horses that compete in many equestrian fields, including Horse racing, the horse show disciplines of Saddle Seat, Western Pleasure, and Hunt seat, as well as Dressage, Cutting, Reining, Endurance riding, Show jumping, Eventing, youth events such as equitation, and others. They are used as pleasure, trail riding, and working ranch horses for those who are not interested in competition.


LUSITANO

The Lusitano is an ancient Portuguese horse breed, that until the 1960s shared its registration with the Spanish Andalusian horse. Both are sometimes called Iberian horses, as they originated from the Iberian peninsula. They were developed for military purposes, and later used for dressage and bull fighting. In America, Lusitanos and Andalusians are registered together under the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA.)


The Lusitano derives its name from lusitania, the name which the ancient Romans gave to the part of the Iberian peninsula that corresponds roughly to modern Portugal and part of modern Spain. Lusitanos and Andalusians originally were registered together under the Spanish Stud Book, but the breeds separated in 1960. At that time Portguese breeders sought to strengthen the breed and re-emphasize the distinct qualities of the Lusitano. Famous Portuguese breeders named several notable lines, including the Andrade and Veiga.

In the 17th century the Spanish ceased fighting bulls from horseback. At that time they began to selectively breed horses for riding and for parade, with a flashy gait, strong bones and a powerful presence. The Portuguese continue to fight bulls from horseback and thus kept these distinct historic characteristics in the modern Lusitano.

Temperamentally, the Lusitano has a reputation for courage, with a tendency to move forward toward that which threatens, combining calmness with great fire while under saddle. Lusitanos are reputed to be intelligent, to possess a sensible, levelheaded temperament and tendency to bond strongly with humans. They have great balance, and are said to have very comfortable gaits.

The Lusitano often has a convex profile, (Roman nose,) a trait that has been found to be tied genetically with an aptitude for "La Gineta," the ancient equestrian art defined by the necessities of mounted single combat or its contemporary replacements: bull fighting, dressage, jumping. They are compact, with powerful hindquarters, some with high-stepping action, and a thick mane and tail. They also have a sloping croup and low-set tail, as well as short backs. They have a low set cresty neck, a broad chest, well-sprung ribs. They are extremely powerful and strong, due to their muscular hindquarters and strong, long legs.
Many Lusitanos turn gray with age. They come in a variety of solid colors and usually stand 15 to 16 hands. Palomino, buckskin, and cremello are the rarest hair coat colors, and most sought after.

Lusitano are proficient at the high levels of dressage. They also compete in show jumping.

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