By Matthias Oster
Posted on September 30th, 2010 in General
The term breed, in my opinion, defines a closed (more or less) poulation within a species. A breed does not neccesarily need a stud book, but this is the way we define our breeds in the western world today. Before the time of using stud books a breed could and was defined by the following parameters:
1) its place of origin (country, region)
2) the existence of a group of breeders
3) purpose for breeding
4) a certain phenotype
Not only Arabian horses but all other breeds existing before the beginning of stud book records apply to those 4 categories. Today for (nearly) every breed a standard is fixed by those who keep the stud books. If a stud book is introduced, someone has to decide which horse is registered and which one not. Sometimes a horse is registered in a sublist and her (because that applies mostly to mares) offspring by registered stallions are registered under certain rules, or a horse of a different breed is accepted for reason of breeding progress.
The Arabian breed has also been put in studbooks that follow the same principles as all studbooks of different breeds do, except for the fact that Arabians are considered a pure breed, so no foreign blood is allowed.
Arabian horses have not been listed in a written studbook by the beduins but still for centuries are considered a breed that is pure, by the bedouins themselve and by non-bedouins, be they from the orient or occident.
The definition of the asil Arabian breed has been discussed on this blog some time ago and it was pointed out that we deal with a socio-cultural definition. Horse and bedouin belong to one unit. Within this unit we have no problem regarding the definition of the breed, i.e. the definition of asil, i.e. the credibility of the oral tradition of belonging to the breed of Arabian horses. The definition is clear and sufficent within the socio-cultural environment. But the moment it leaves this unit it becomes questionable. Here the written records must step in. The problem is, it did not or only after some time in many cases of horses that are considered asil. Here our questions must begin and we have to decide – can we believe in the asil origin or not. The question of credibility is vital and here it comes to personal opinions.
Regarding the history of the breed we also have to look at the oral tradition of the bedouins and compare it with written records from outside. The latter has been done by Patrick, Tzwia and others in this discussion.
If we go back in history we come to a point where the sociocultural unit of Bedouin and his horse is broken. Is the Arabian breed older than this unit?
For me, yes it is older, but this is a personal opinion based more on feelings than facts. The term Pre-Arab is used by many, also by me, but for me it is still the same kind of horse, the horse of King Salomon, the horse of the Pharaons, or even the horse in the time of Noah. Mostly I draw my inspiration for this believe from the unique character of the Arabian horses in general.