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Articles > Dogs

The Future Of The Arabian Breed

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Tags: Arabian, Arabian Horse, Lavender Foal Syndrome, Health, Genetic Disorders

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There is both a positive and a negative side to being the most popular breed of horses worldwide. The positive side is that there is a large genetic pool for breeding purposes, plus there is little chance that the breed will dwindle in numbers or become extinct. The negative side is that many people tend to get involved in breeding, resulting in horses that are bred with less than desirable qualities due to the breeders simply not knowing enough about the breed.

One of the major concerns with the future of the Arabian horse breed is the different groups that define and recognize the Arabian horse worldwide. Some groups such as the World Arabian Horse Association will accept almost any Arabian listed in any Stud Book in the world as Arabian as long as the ancestory can be traced back to the Arabian desert. The Al Khamsa Arabian horses must be Arabians that can be traced directly back to the Bedouin horse breeders of the Arabian desert or Arabian peninsula and can have no influence from other lines. The Blue Star registry further refines this to exclude any Arabian horses that may have Turkomene heritage or be bred to horses that may have had Turkomene blood. The Al Khamsa Arabian registry and the Blue Star registry only recognize about 2-5% of all Arabian horses as true Arabians. As more breeders work to preserve the lines and maintain the purity of the Arabian breed there is likely to be ongoing political debates over the true title of a registered Arabian horse depending on which registry or group is involved.

All horses have the potential for genetic disease and conditions, but the Arabian breed, perhaps due to its worldwide popularity, has a slightly higher incidence of fatal genetic conditions. One type of birth condition that is fatal and only found in Arabian horse is Lavender Foal Syndrome. These foals are recognizable by their unusual coloration at birth as well as other physical and developmental problems that always fatal. Severe combined immunodeficiency, cerebellar abiotrophy and occipital atlanto-axial malformation are all fatal conditions within the breed. New genetic testing and research is leading to possible tests for these genetic recessive conditions that would allow testing of mares and stallions prior to breeding. Since these fatal genetic factors are recessive and are only seen as a two out of four chance in breeding, even if both mare and stallion have the recessive gene it is possible for a great number of horses in any genetic line to have the conditions. This can prove to be a concern in the Arabian breeding programs if owners and breeders do not report the genetic problems with the foals and remove stallions or mares from breeding programs. Many disreputable breeders don't report these lethal genetic combinations since they know there is a 50% chance that the foal will not have the condition in the next breeding. Thankfully there are few of these types of breeders around and reputable breeders carefully monitor their programs.

The versatility of the Arabian breed continues to ensure that these horses will be popular around the world and in almost every type of discipline. Since they are excellent competitive horses as well as easy keeping horses they are popular as all round riding horses, show horses and event horses. Increasing demand for endurance horses has further enhanced the demand for Arabians around the world.


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