All The Types And Strains of Arabian Horses

In this article, let’s peek a little into the world of Arabian horses to discover their types and strains.

Let’s start with the most basic question, that is:

What are the types and strains of Arabian Horses?

Here are the popular types of Arabian horses:

  • The Egyptian Arabians
  • The Polish Arabians
  • The Spanish Arabians
  • The Russian Arabians
  • The Crabbet Arabians
  • The Domestic Arabians

Here is the list of Arabian Horse strains:

  • Keheilan
  • Abeyan
  • Hadban
  • Seglawi
  • Hamdani

These strains are considered ‘pure’ and have been given the name ‘Al Khamsa’ in Arabic. In English, ‘Al Khamsa’ means ‘The Five.’

The difference between the “types and strains” of a the Arabian horse breed is a bit confusing, isn’t it?

To make it digestible let me briefly explain the difference between the two.

What is a “Type” of Arabian Horse?

Thousands of years ago, the Arabian Horses originated in the Arabian Peninsula.

Due to their unmatched beauty, strength, and friendliness, these horses became popular among people all around the world.

Various countries imported these Arabian horses. Later, they started their own breeding farms locally.

Some of the major countries with their own Arabian Horse registries are Egypt, Poland, England, America, Russia, and Spain.

Arabian horses that are produced in those countries, locally, are classified as a separate “type” of the Arabian horse.

What is a “Strain” of Arabian Horses?

A strain can be defined as a family or a bloodline within a breed of horses.

This is a smaller group of horses, within a breed, originating from a common ancestor.

Makes sense?


Let’s get into the details of all the strains and types of Arabian horses, their characteristics, and origins.

The Most Popular Types Of Arabian Horses

We already know the names of the most popular types of Arabian Horses.

But in this section, we’ll discuss each type in detail.

1. The Egyptian Arabians

The Egyptian Arabians are thought to be descended from the ancient Arabian horses.

It is believed that the Egyptians were obtained by crossing the pure strains of Arabian horses, known as the “Khamsa”.

Straight Arabian blood can be found in most of the Egyptian Arabian Horses.

History of Egyptian Arabians

The Arabian Horses have been loved by royalty since ages.

Muhammad Ali was one such ruler of Turkey during the days when Egypt was a Turkish province.

He collected the finest Arabian horses from all over Arab.

In this pursuit, he brought 1100 of the best Arabian horses to Egypt and kept records of the pedigree of each of those Arabian horses.

Later, in the 20th century, some of these treasured horses were exported to other parts of the world.

Prominent Physical Features of Egyptian Arabian Horses

The physical features of these horses are:

  • Mostly found in different shades of brown
  • Their height is usually 14.6 hands.

The Personality of Egyptian Arabians 

The qualities which make these horses special are:

  • Their unmatched beauty
  • The purity of their bloodline
  • A balanced combination of strength, intelligence, bravery, beauty, and friendliness with humans

Uses of Egyptian Arabians

Some of the prominent uses of the Egyptian Arabians are as under.

  • Egyptian Arabians have fought numerous wars alongside their human masters. Due to their strength and bravery, they are considered excellent war horses.
  • Egyptian Arabians are extremely helpful in refining other breeds
  • These horses are also used in competitions, shows, and as recreational horses

The population of Egyptian Arabians in America is only 2%. Despite their small number, 30% of the National Titles have been won by them.

2. The Polish Arabians

These are the Arabian horses bred in Poland.

History of Polish Arabians

Poland has been invaded by various invaders throughout its history.

During those foreign invasions by Mongol, Tatar, and Turk armies, different kinds of horses came to Poland. The Arabian horses were one of them.

The locals loved those Arabian horses. As per an agreement with the Turks, in 1699, the Polish horsemen brought Arabian horses to Poland.

After that, the Arabian Horses were formally brought to Poland and bred locally. During the world wars, Poland lost the majority of its Arabian ho

After the Second World War, the horsemen in Poland tried their best to preserve the remaining Arabian horse population in Poland. Hungary also sent Arabian horses to help Poland rebuild its Arabian horse population.

Today, Polish Arabians are bred under The Polish Arabian Horse Breeders Association.

Prominent Physical Features of the Polish Arabians

Some of the features of the Polish Arabian Horses are:

  • Strong muscular bodies
  • Highly dynamic movements
  • Small hooves
  • Long withers
  • Arched neck
  • Variety of coat colors (shades of brown, white, and grey)
  • Average height of 14.2-15 hands

The Personality of Polish Arabians

These horses are:

  • Athletic
  • Intensely beautiful.
  • Tough

Uses of The Polish Arabians

These Polish horses are used for:

  • Cavalry
  • Competitions and shows
  • Farm work
  • Recreational riding

3. The Spanish Arabians

They are the product of local Arabian Horse breeding centers in Spain.

History of Spanish Arabians

In the mid-nineteenth century, 1847 to be exact, Queen of Spain (Isabella II) wanted a more agile horse.

Such horses were not available locally in Spain at that time. So, she imported the finest Arabian Horses from the Arab world.

Her idea was to give a boost to the declining local horse industry. The first Spanish horse registry was also raised in 1847.

In the start of the 20th Century, more Arabian horses were brought in Spain from the Arabian countries and Poland.

Then up till 2006, there was almost no new induction of outside blood in the Spanish Arabians.

Though the Spanish Arabian horse population in Spain reached 13000 in 2006, their population is less than 0.1% of the total Arabian horse population in the USA.

Prominent Physical Features of the Spanish Arabians    

These horses have:

  • Curved tails
  • Shorter necks
  • Variety of colors (white, grey, brown)
  • Average height of 14.5-15 hands

The Personality of The Spanish Arabians

The prominent characteristics of the Spanish Arabian horses are:

  • Versatility
  • Athleticism
  • God Temperament
  • Trainability
  • Good for Breeding

Uses of The Spanish Arabians

These horses are used in competitions and recreational activities.

Want to know how fast Arabians are? Take a look at our in-depth coverage on the topic.

In the USA, due to their small population, the Spanish Arabians are kept only for breeding.

4. The Russian Arabians

These horses were bred by the breeders in Russia.

History of Russian Arabians

In 1889 a few enthusiastic Russians decided to bring horses from their native lands of the Middle East.

They imported 30 Arabian horses and started organized breeding in Russia.

Sadly, during the Russian revolution, these breeding efforts were destroyed and the majority of the horses got killed during that time.

Later, world wars hampered long-term breeding activities.

In the nineteen fifties the Russians started introducing foreign Arabian horses to their own remaining line of Arabian horses. For this purpose, they got the best horses from Poland, England, and Egypt.

The resultant breed, that is the Russian Arabian, became popular among breeders and people in general.

Prominent Physical Features of the Russian Arabians

The Russian Arabians are found in dark shades of brown and are usually 15 hands tall.

Some of the physical features which distinguish Russian Arabians from other types of Arabian horses are their:

  • Muscular bodies
  • Flatter faces
  • Unique freedom of movement originating from their shoulders

The Personality of Russian Arabian Horses

The main focus of the breeders of the Russian Arabians was not only to create a catchy appearance but also to garner athletic abilities.

No wonder the Russian Arabians frequently win horse competitions.

Their energy has not made them hot-tempered. Instead, Russian Arabian horses have gentle personalities.

Due to their cool nature, Russian Arabians are excellent family horses.

Uses of Russian Arabians

These Arabian horses were historically used as war horses.

Nowadays they are used as:

  • Racehorses
  • Family pets

5. The Crabbet Or Old English Arabians

As you might have guessed from the name, these are Arabian horses bred in the breeding farm in Crabbet Park, England.

History Of Crabbet Arabians

In 1878, a breeding farm for horses was set up in Crabbet, England.

The pioneers of this farm were Lady Anne Blunt and her husband Wilfrid Blunt.

They made several trips to Egypt and imported some of the finest Arabian horses.

They also established a breeding farm of Arabian horses in Egypt.

Lady Anne Blunt followed the Bedouin practices of breeding her horses.

Due to her untiring efforts, some of the finest horses were produced in Crabbet.

The Crabbet Arabians have been exported the world over and have enhanced other types of Arabian horses wherever they went.

Prominent Physical Features of the Crabbet Arabians

Horse enthusiasts consider Crabbet Arabians as bland in appearance.

They are found in various colors, including brown, white, grey, and chestnut.

The Personality of Crabbet Arabians

Crabbet Arabians have:

  • Fantastic temperament
  • Excellent competing abilities

In short, they have excellent abilities to be called an all-rounder horse.

Uses of Crabbet Arabians

Mainly, Crabbet Arabians are used for:

  • Horse shows
  • Races
  • Recreational riding

6. Domestic Arabians

The Arabian horses produced locally in America are known as Domestic Arabians.

The Crabbet Arabians are the major blood contributors for the Domestic Arabians.

History of Domestic Arabians

In the colonial era, the Englishmen took Arabian horses from England to enhance their breed of Thoroughbred horses in America. But these colonials were not much particular in breeding the purebred Arabians.

Breeding for purebred Arabians started after Chicago World Fair in 1893.

In 1908 the Arabian Horse Registry of Arabia was established.

This registry looked towards Crabbet Park, England, for starting their own breed. Many Crabbet Arabians were imported and breeding of Arabian horses officially started in the USA.

Initially, for about fifty years, the breeding was among straight Crabbets or with outcrosses of Crabbet Arabians.

After that Polish and Egyptian Arabians were also imported to diversify the Domestic Arabian breed.

Although there are many breeding centers in the USA, but California is the center for Breeding Arabian Horses.

Want to learn more about owning an Arabian? Here’s an article covering the cost of an Arabian Horse and more!

Prominent Physical features of Domestic Arabians

Domestic Arabians are:

  • Strikingly beautiful
  • Found in various colors
  • 1-15.1 hands tall

The Personality of Domestic Arabian Horses

In the beginning, Domestic Arabians were produced with the intention to use them for cavalry.

The breeders wanted horses who were great jumpers and good polo players at the same time.

The resultant domestic Arabians were sturdy, strong, and hardy.

Domestic Arabians are famous for their beauty and endurance.

Uses of Domestic Arabian Horses

The Domestic Arabians are used for:

  • Cavalry
  • Recreational Riding
  • Competitions

So, there you go:

We have gone through the details of the different types of Arabian horses. Now, let’s learn a little about the strains of this mesmerizing horse breed.

The Strains of Arabian Horses

As we already discussed, a strain is a bloodline within a breed having a common ancestor. So, now let’s look into the pure bloodlines of Arabian Horses.

The Al Khamsa

The Bedouins consider Al Khamsa as the group of five foundation mares who were the basis of the breed of the Arabian Horses.

There is no objective historical proof of the existence of these mares. Still, some breeders still strongly believe in their existence.

Today, Al Khamsa refers to an Arabian horse that has the complete record of the line of its pedigree going all the way back to its native ancestors. But not just that, a Bedouin will have to attest that documentation by taking a formal oath.

With such a tough standard, only 2% of modern-day Arabian horses can be truly considered descendants of the Al Khamsa.

Features of The Most Popular Strains of The Arabian Horses

There are a few features of each strain of Al Khamsa which differentiate these bloodlines.

1. The Keheilan

The Keheilans have:

  • Deep chest
  • Shorter head
  • Slightly large size, that is around 15 hands tall
  • Wide jaws
  • Usually found in grey or chestnut colors

2. The Seglawi

They have:

  • Longer faces
  • Chiseled bone structure
  • Bay coat colors, mostly
  • Feminine beauty
  • Shorter height, that is 14.2 hands tall

The Abeyan

The features which distinguish the Abeyan Arabians from the other five families of Arabian horses are:

  • High tails
  • Longer backs
  • Their unique color having grey undertone with sprayed white color
  • Their unique sprints

The Abeyans are usually 14.2 hands tall like the Seglawis.

The Hamadani Arabians

The Hamadanis have:

  • Sporty built
  • Large bones
  • Muscular bodies
  • Larger sizes, 15.2 hands tall
  • Flatter faces
  • Grey or Bay coat colors

The Hadban

This bloodline has:

  • Strong, muscular, and sporty built bodies
  • Similar traits as Hamadanis but smaller size, that is 14.3 hands tall
  • Brown and bay color coats with or without white markings

Arabians are an exquisite breed of horses with a few structural peculiarities.. Here’s an article on amazing facts about Arabian Horses you probably didn’t know!

Related Questions

Why Arabian Horses are The Best?

The combination of their beauty, endurance, and human friendliness make them one of the best horses on the face of the Earth.

The Arabian horses are one of the finest horses but in terms of which breed of horses really is “the best”, it all comes down to individual preference.

How fast are Arabian Horses?

The Arabian horses have sped up to 65 kilometers per hour (that’s 40 miles per hour) in endurance racing.

On average, the speed of an Arabian horse is 55 kilometers per hour (which is 34 miles per hour.)

Are Arabian Horses fast?

When it comes to endurance racing, the Arabian horses are pretty fast. In endurance racing, they have sped up to 65 kilometers per hour.

On the other hand, they are the third-fastest when it comes to short-distance races.

The American Quarter horses are at the top for shorter races, with the Thoroughbred horses right behind them.

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