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The Shagya Arabian
 By Winniefield Park   •   15th Dec 2018   •   691 views   •   1 comments


While working on an article about warm bloods, I remembered that an Arabian cross was developed for much the same reasons as many warm bloods. Generally, the Shagya Arabian isn’t considered a warm blood. It is however, now considered a sport horse by many.

Development of the breed began in the late 1700s with an edict from the monarchy to found the Babolna stud not far from the city of Budapest. The goal was to produce cavalry horses and to improve other breeds as well as provide high quality horses for the aristocracy.

The breed is named for one of its founding stallions, Shagya. This horse, born in Syria in 1810 is thought to be full Arabian, or nearly so. I tried to find the meaning of the word Shagya without success. It may have been a place name, or perhaps simply a name like Paul or Spot. Shagya was imported to the Austro-Hungarian empire, which covered a good part of central Europe, where by this time existed several stud farms involved in the breeding program to develop superior riding horses, primarily for cavalry use. Horses brought into the program had to pass rigorous testing, including a dressage test, a ten day ride over the rugged countryside for almost 300 miles, sprints, and long drives. Those failing any part of the test were excluded from the program.

One of the key differences between warm blood registries and other breeds and types is that the studbook remains open. This allows the introduction of other breeds that might add their qualities to improve a specific horse’s offspring within the registry. So a Thoroughbred might be used to improve size, speed or athleticism, or Arabian might be used to add hardiness, refinement or endurance.

But today, the studbooks of the Shagya Arabian is closed, and it isn’t technically a breed, the registry functions like one.

While the stallion Shagya and other Arabians played a large role in development of the breed, they were not the only breed. For this reason, Shagyas are considered part-breds. To be registered as a purebred, an Arabian horse must not have a smidge of blood from another breed. No matter how diluted, an Arabian horse with a non-Arabian ancestor is considered a part-bred. The pedigrees of some of the earliest Shagyas are unknown, but later, Lippizan and Thoroughbreds can be found. The closed studbook though ensure that these horses remain well in the Shagya’s past.

Like most warm bloods and many other actual breeds, the horses produced by the Shagya stud farms were bred and used very locally. So unlike other breeds like Quarter Horses, Arabians and other breeds developed and classified during the 1800s, you wouldn’t have found Shagyas just anywhere on the map. Even today, they are still rare.

Shagya himself was valued as a stallion, partially because of his size. Arabians at the time were commonly less than 15 HH. Shagya was 15.2 hands. This doesn’t seem like a very tall Arabian to us now, most Arabians at that time were less than 15HH. Some modern Shagyas are up to 16 hands. Shagyas also tend to be heavier boned and muscled than purebred Arabians making them more suitable to carry a soldier and all his kit, or pull a load over long distances. Today it makes the breed more attractive to those who would like to ride an Arabian, but need a slightly larger horse. It also makes them more suitable for jumping and eventing. Their natural carriage makes them ideal for dressage and driving. So while cavalry use is no longer considered by Shagya breeders, they still have qualities many riders and drivers value today.


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http://afs.okstate.edu
http://performanceshagyaregistry.org
http://imh.org
https://www.geni.com
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