Arabian Horses Spread to Europe

With the rise of the Prophet Mohammed and the dawn of Islam, circa 600 A.D., Arabia underwent a change in culture. Fired with zeal over their new-found Islamic faith, the Arab warriors swept out of the desert mounted on “Arabian horses,” spreading the word of their Prophet. Bred in the desert their remarkable horses had evolved like finely tempered steel into the swift, elegant, graceful and magnificent war horse by whose means the Arabs shook the civilized world. The Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean countries as far west as Spain and others as far east as China, fell to Islam. (Picture courtesy Arabian Horse Trust)

European horses soon felt an extensive infusion of Arabian blood, especially as a result of the Christian Crusaders returning from the East between the years 1099 A.D. and 1249 A.D. With the invention of fire arms, the heavily armored knight lost his importance and during the 16th century handy, light and speedy horses were in demand for use as cavalry mounts. Subsequent wars proved the superiority of the Arabian horse as the outstanding military mount throughout the world.

After the Crusades, people of the western world began looking to the people of the east for Arabian bloodstock. Between 1683 and 1730 a revolution in horse breeding occurred when three Arabian stallions were imported to England. The Darley Arabian, the Byerly Turk and the Godolphin Arabian founded the Thoroughbred breed. Today the majority of all modern Thoroughbreds can be trace to these three Arabian sires. By direct infusion, and through the blood of the Thoroughbred, the Arabian has contributed, to some degree, to all our light breeds of horses.

In the 1800’s travelers in the Victorian era became enamored with the horse of the desert as significant Arabian stud farms were founded throughout Europe. The royal families of Poland established notable studs, as did the kings of Germany and other European nations. As a result of Lady Anne Blunt and Wilfred Blunt’s historical sojourns into the desert to obtain Egyptian and desert stock, the world-famous Crabbet Arabian Stud was founded in England. This stud eventually provided foundation horses for many countries, including Russia, Poland, Australia, North and South America and Egypt.