Friday, April 03, 2009


So I was catching up on blogs I like to read, and I came across this post over at Rising Rainbow.

Full disclosure here - I didn't watch the video, and I don't think I'm going to. From what I've read it's a very scary video of a cart wreck at an Arabian show. Apparently there are comments about the video which trash Arabian horses, saying they are poorly trained or crazy or something. I don't think I will read the comments either because that will just piss me off.

Let's get one thing straight - horses, ALL BREEDS INCLUDED, are prey animals. Their best and usually only defense are their legs (horses will bite if cornered, but even then they are more apt to kick if they can). So, when they are very scared, they run. I do not care how old, how trained, how level headed, or what breed your horse is. If you scare them badly enough, they will follow their instinct run away. It's just a question of encountering that scary thing.

Arabian horses are extremely smart. Since all horses will spook, if an Arabian horse is punished for spooking they will start being afraid to be afraid. Think about this for just a second. It happens ALL THE TIME. The horse spooks at a noise, and the rider whips them or shouts. Maybe other breeds can just shrug this kind of behavior off, but Arabian horses want to please you. They try very, very hard, and they are thinking horses. So they begin to connect being fearful with being beaten. They become afraid of everything, and that is what makes people think they are crazy.

It is people who make them scared of life. If treated with understanding and allowed to build confidence, Arabian horses will be calm, enthusiastic partners who will work themselves into the ground if you ask them to. But if you beat them for being scared, beat them excessively, or otherwise punish inappropriately, 99% of them will have problems. There are very few Arabians who will turn on you and can be labeled as evil.

In 27 years of riding Arabians, I can say that I have known maybe two who were really nasty. And one of those was a stallion, who turned into a peach once he was gelded (possibly too much testosterone in the poor guys system). So that's really one in 27 years, and he was also a stallion who may or may not have gotten relief from gelding. In the last nine years of being exposed to more dressage-type breeds of horses, I have known two really bad horses, both warmbloods. And both geldings. Of course this is not scientific fact, but it's my opinion that the bad seed in the Arabian breed is few and far in between and less common than in other breeds.

I am dealing with fear issues that Fire has right now. He's coming around, and is certainly not crazy. He's smart, wants to please, but is scared that he will be beaten for being afraid and acting like a horse. Really, it's okay if he spooks. Eventually he will get confidence in both himself and in me and he won't startle at every little noise or weird looking patch on the ground.

So, before you label Arabian horses who are acting up as crazy or stupid, just think that the problem lies not with the horse, but with the insensitive behavior of the people who have handled them.


Grey Horse Matters said...

That was a good rant. I have to agree with you that some horses get bad reputations and they don't deserve them at all. In my opinion it's hardly ever the horse but the people who train and ride them.
I have never had an Arabian until this past August when we rescued Sammi and his mom. We've either had warmbloods, paints, quarter horses or thoroughbreds and a trakehner (who also has a bad rep)through the years.None of them were bad and we have rehabbed lots of different types of horses too.
In defense of the Arabians I can say that having only dealt with the two in our barn, they are smart and willing to please and very sane and do not spook even when something scares them they stand and figure it out. I was very impressed especially with Sammi(5-6 yrs.) who'd had very limited experience with people or turnout. He's one of the gang now and a real cutie.

The Mane Point said...

I could not agree more. My very smartest mount is an Arab cross . . . and he rocks.

Arabs can be quite sensible.



STB Eventer said...

I am Dreamspark in the comments section of that video, if you or anyone else does read it. I was pretty angry that people would target Arab people and horses too. Accidents like that happen because people don't think or make bad decisions in the heat of the moment, not because of the breed of horse! I have competed in carriage driving for years (but my carriage horse is now retired...) and had an accident myself, so I have had plenty of experience driving...not so much with Arabians, but like with people, I do not stereotype!

Heather said...

My Arabian gelding was very reactive and spooky when I first got him last July. He would spook at something/anything, and would panic by going backwards. This problem was especially bad if he was tied. He would rear and go over backwards. At first I tried 'solving' his 'pulling back' problem. Nothing helped. So, I just started leaving him untied to groom, etc. and I reacted less when we became reactionary. Almost one year later, and he spooks less often and less violently. I attribute that completely to my remaining calm and not reacting to his spooks. He has recently started replacing 'spooking' with 'investigating'. He is much more bold and curious now that he can trust completely.

txranger93 said...

I saw that video. I had no idea it was Arabians until I read the comments section (I saw it posted on a different blog). All I saw was a horse who either got scared of something or could have been stung by a bee for all we know. Whatever it was, he was just trying to get himself away from the problem. I think it was the people in the arena that turned that scene into the disaster it became. All they had to do was let him run himself out while they all gathered in the center of the arena. Easier said than done, I'm sure, but some of those people acted like idiots and made it all much worse than it needed to be.
I do not own an Arabian, but grew up with the "don't get one because they're hot and spooky" theory...courtesy of other people. I have since run into many of them over the years, and have to say that none of them were crazy. Some may have spooked a bit more than others, but they were all pretty smart guys.
My older QH gelding will occasionally spook/pull back in the barn; usually it's because of something unfamiliar down the aisle blowing in the wind. However, over time I have realized that if I quit reacting to his spooking, he'll usually quit on his own. I'll just stand there staring at him, and when he's done I'll ask him "are you through?". I swear he gets a look of embarassment on his face! On the occasions that he actually winds up breaking a halter/lead rope, once his head is free, he stops pulling. He just needs to know that he CAN get away if the horse-eating monster pays the barn a visit.
I know a horse that has the worst attitude I've ever seen in my life. He's just a nasty guy; bites, strikes, rears, chases you, etc. He's a 17.3 Belgian Warmblood...definitely NOT something you want coming after you with teeth. His behaviors are learned; he was an orphan who realized he could boss people around and get away with it because he's so big. Well, after a visit from the chiropractor and some retraining, he's become a somewhat friendly, not hard to catch, leads nicely gelding that's not so scary anymore. Do I think ALL Belgains are like this, and would never own one myself? No. Would I tell all my friends that they're crazy idiots, and they should never get one? No. All of his issues were because of people, in one way or another. He is slowly coming around, but we all know it will take time and patience.
I think that when people stereotype horses, they're just as bad as the people who stereotype other people. Shame on them all!

Anonymous said...

I did not see or read this other blog, but I like this statement from a the Arabian Breeders Forum:

"Arabian Horses are smarter then the people who dislike them"!!

Horseypants said...

How about this bumper sticker:

"My Arabian Horse Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student"

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr