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The Arabian Horse a Classic Allrounder

The Arabian horse is well suited for Western riding because of its quick intelligence and its friendly temperament.

In the USA, Arabians have been used for Western riding for over a hundred years, and today even Western trainers who normally work with Quarter Horses success-fully show Arabians in Western Pleasure, Reining, Trail, Cutting, and Working Cow Horse. It is not unusual to find more than 400 Arabians and Half-Arabians competing in Western disciplines at the biggest US shows. In Germany, more and more riders are discovering Western riding with Arabians as their ideal occupation, whether as a hobby or as a Sport.

 Training the Arabian

Owners of Arabian horses have normally chosen this breed because of its special charisma, its sensitivity, alertness, grace, gentleness, elegance, and beauty. These horsed demand a special, gentle training that encourages trust between horse and rider while enabling the rider to control the horse's temperament and preserve its sensitivity. 
This in turn demands a greater sensitivity on part of the trainer. Most Arabians quickly respond to the System of rewards used by most Western trainers. The most important thing is that the horse accepts what it is asked to do.

If each correct response is immediately rewarded with short periods of relaxation, the Arabian will learn its lessons through frequent repetition and a slow increase of demand.

In order to keep the horse content, interested and focused, the training should be structured according to the special requirements of the Arabian horse.

There should be absolutely no stress and no pressure.

A three-year-old Arabian, unlike other Western breeds, does not suffer strong pressure; it is especially important to go ahead slowly and quietly, to increase the demands gradually and work in small steps towards the required goal.

The periods of relaxation, mentioned above, and free days at pasture help to keep the young horse fresh and healthy.

If the Arabian is trained in such a way, he is sure to attract attention at public appearances.

Spectators are impressed by the horses' calm attitude and their response to the riders' signals while performing with remarkable grace and elegance.


The various disciplines

At Western shows, open classes often feature Arabians that are perfectly able to compete against other breeds. In addition, some shows have special classes for Arabians, and there are also some shows for Arabians only.

Arabians usually excel at Western Pleasure, Western Horsemanship, and Western Riding. Western Pleasure is a class in which all horses (15 or more) perform in the ring at the same time, and the judge chooses the horse that appears to give its rider the most pleasure. 
The horse should move well in all basic gaits, carry its head and neck in a relaxed, natural Position, react to all signals from the rider, and be in good condition.

Arabians are sometimes at a disadvantage because of their tendency to carry their heads high; if they are to compete against other breeds, it is essential that they are trained to carry their heads lower and to keep their gaits flat and soft.

In Westem Horsemanship, the judge looks at the ability of the rider to perform certain manoeuvres with his horse both alone and in a group. The winner should be in perfect harmony with his horse, performing a correct pattern while giving only the barest signals.
Western Riding classes demand much of horse and rider. A set pattern has to be performed at a canter, including lead changes at particular points. The horse should move freely and with a regular rhythm, change leads lightly and correctly, and follow the rider's signals. The class is judged by the quality of the gaits and lead changes, as well as obedience to the rider
Because of its quick intelligence and high sensitivity, Arabians in trail classes tend to deal with the obstacles in a quick and in-dependent manner. Since the classes are judged for the horse's cooperation with the rider, the horse should be carefully trained to keep its attention on its rider and not to become impatient or uncertain. Reining is not necessarily the ideal Sport for Arabians in competition with Quarter Horses.
Although the actual performance rarely lasts longer then 3 or 4 minutes, it requires enormous power and very strong muscling in the hindquarters.

 Arabians can easily learn to perform the small circle at the lope, lead changes and rollbacks, if the horse is athletic and fit enough.
The sliding stop is more difficult, because Arabians have less powerful hindquarters. There are occasional exceptions to the rule, like the stallion Moonwalker with Peter Kreinberg, the mare Polish Princess with Rene Schalcher and the stallion Mora with Wendy Nelson-Hoetzel, three pure-breds that have been shown success" fully in open Reining.

In cattle disciplines Arabians are rarely seen in Europe. 
Last not least, the Arabian's strength as a Western horse lie in its all-round talent. With good basic training, he is the ideal partner for many hobby riders.