The practice of cross breeding the Arabian horse is certainly not a recent phenomenon. All of the modern so-called "light breeds" are the results of native crosses with the beautiful and versatile Arabian. Breeds like Lipizzaners, Thoroughbreds, Morgans and American Walking Horses are just a few that can trace their lineage back to Arabians. They've also been in America longer than many realize, with George Washington even owning a Half-Arabian called "Blueskin." Today, the Half-Arabian is one of the most popular horses in the United States with nearly 300,000 Half-Arabians registered with the Arabian Horse Association. Here we'll take a look at some of the more popular crosses and what makes each cross special.
One of the most popular Arabian crosses has been with the American Saddlebred, which since has become so successful in its own right that it has been recognized as its own breed: the National Show Horse. As the registry is still comparatively young, having opened in 1981, eligible horses may be the offspring of National Show Horses, or a combination of Arabian, American Saddlebred or National Show Horse, as long as there is at least twenty-five percent Arabian blood. The main characteristics of the breed are that the horse is refined like an Arabian but with the Saddlebred's animation. These horses are mostly bred for saddle seat riding, a type of dressage that was developed in the United States, and they are also used for endurance, show jumping, and western riding.
Half-Arabians that find Morgan blood in their veins have also had their own registry created for what is now called the Morab. The Morgan Horse, which dates back to the 18th century, became a hardy and strong horse, thanks to the harsh climate it endured in the Northeast United States. The combination with Arabians creates a horse with great strength and depth that is also refined and intelligent. The Morab's shorter back in comparison to the Arabian and a longer croup in comparison with the Morgan, and this makes for a very smooth gait and a great deal of strength, making this horse a very strong contender in endurance and competitive riding. Morabs also tend to have very few hoof and leg problems, thanks to the strong bones inherited from the Morgan and the lower heel and broad, hard hoof of the Arabian.
There are two crosses that are mostly done for the spectacular colored coats that can be the result. One of the common crosses is with the Pinto. Technically, a Pinto is any horse that has a colored and patterned coat, but a Pinto Horse Association does exist which is changing this school of thought. Patterns that can appear on Half-Arabians are as varied as those that appear on the Pinto: black and white spots (sometimes called Piebald), bay and white (sometimes called Skewbald), or Tobiano patterned, which is the most frequent Pinto pattern, or Overo patterned. Another cross done for the coat results is with the Appaloosa. These crosses are sometimes called Araloosas. While the colors are varied, the most popular feature is the spotted coat, which can appear in patterns such as the blanket, leopard, snowflake, varnish or frost patterns.