As some of you might know, there are lots of stereotypes about Arabian horses, which is such a shame because they make lovely trail riding horses. Arabians are very dependable and highly intelligent. In this blog I’ll tell you a bit more about this amazing horse breed and why they are the perfect companion for horse riders who love going out on trails.
In general, horses are quite a lot smarter than dogs, their IQ can be compared to that of a three year old child. Now, Arabians are more intelligent than most horse breeds, and I can very well understand how my mare’s intelligence level can be compared to that of a young child.
Arabians are usually thought of as very hot headed and spirited horses that are very spooky, and they are even called unreliable. I personally think they are some of the best trail horses I’ve ever ridden, and because of their breeding and their high level of intelligence they make great horses for beginners, intermediate, and experienced riders alike.
The Arabian horse is one of the smartest breeds there is, and are often misunderstood because of this! They learn incredibly quickly, are very playful and sensitive. These characteristics can backfire when Arabians are trained by someone who is inexperienced or very harsh. As an example, my own Arabian mare will learn something extremely quickly. A few weeks ago, she gave me a kiss and I praised her loads because I thought it was adorable. For about 10 days afterwards, she gave me a kiss every time she wanted attention. You really only need to teach such an intelligent horse something once, and they will remember forever. The same goes for trailer loading, with which my mare has positive and negative experiences. Before I bought my Arabian, I trained her for her previous owners. Her previous owners were regular English riders, who treat horses a bit harsher than I personally would, and use lots of negative reinforcement.
Negative reinforcement especially doesn’t work with Arabians, but I would say it usually doesn't work with any horse, despite being such a popular method in the horse world. Every time my horse had to be loaded onto the horse box, she would resist, resulting in people forcefully making her go into the horse box. As a result, she became more difficult each time she had to be loaded. When I finally was able to buy her, I moved her to a different stable, and for that she needed to get into the horse box. It took over half an hour to get my beautiful and intelligent Arabian into the horse box, with lots of positive reinforcement. I never for a second doubted whether she would go in, I believed (and still believe) she’s smart enough to learn on the spot. She ended up being completely relaxed in the horse box, and didn’t rush out when we arrived at our destination either. Since that evening, she has never resisted walking onto the horse box again, and I truly believe she never will in the future.
Of course, I am a little bit biased as I have an Arabian myself. However, from my experience I feel like my Arabian has taught me even more positive things about the breed and their amazing characteristics and personalities. Despite her being very sensitive and occasionally quite hotheaded, she is the most dependable horse I have ever had. She certainly is the best trail horse I’ve ever had. She protects me, and I learn as much from her as she learns from me, probably even more. I trust her with my life, and even when her tail goes up and she starts snorting, I know she will handle the situation perfectly. I’ve never felt unsafe while riding her, or on the ground. I do understand that people get nervous to ride an Arabian horse, there are lots of stereotypes, and the videos we see on social media portray the breed as extremely hot headed and flighty. Due to their intelligence, Arabians can easily be trained to show off their “wild” side. They can easily be taught to rear and other movements due to their high energy levels. It doesn’t mean that all Arabian horses will always show this type of behavior under saddle!
Some of the best horses I have ever ridden on horse riding holidays around the world have been Arabians or Arabian cross breeds. In Zimbabwe, I had the pleasure of riding an Arabian cross breed called Lundi. She is a young and green mare, and she learnt extremely quickly during the two weeks that I rode her. Another incredible Arabian cross breed, and one of my favourite horses of all of our horse riding holidays is Fayrouz, in Egypt. She is also a young mare, and has lots of energy. She might look a bit jumpy, and loves to gallop every chance she gets! She is however completely bombproof, very curious, and easy to ride. On our horse riding holidays in Turkey, all the horses are Arabians or Arabian cross breeds, and they are some of the most relaxed and dependable horses I’ve ever met! The horses in Turkey are bombproof, have lovely forward paces, and are not hot headed or hard to hold back at all. Quite the opposite of what most people would expect from a herd of Arabian mares on the beach! Last but not least, the horses on our horse riding holiday in Lesotho, Africa, are all Arabians or Arabian cross breeds. They are hardy, relaxed, bombproof, and I would trust almost all of them with kids and beginners! They immediately pick up on their rider’s experience level, and make sure to take care of their riders in all gaits, and through all terrains!
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