Horse and Rider December 1977
Can Arabian Horses Hold Their Own in
By Chuck Grant
Gahalla, a six year old Arabian, has been shown
all the way up the dressage ladder from First Level through the
international Prix St. Georges Level, a difficult test of a
horse's abilities. During her four competitions in 1977, Gahalla
has ranked in the top three ten times, winning six classes.
Most Arabian dressage competitions do not offer
classes above the third level, therefore Arabians that are
trained above the third level do not have a chance to show unless
they go into open dressage shows. In my opinion Arabian well
schooled in dressage should be able to compete against any breed.
A good dressage horse should posses the
following: Normal or above normal intelligence. The Arabian horse
possesses this quality to a great degree, perhaps more so than
most breeds. The dressage horse must be free in all his
movements, and he must be able to stride long. The Arabian can do
this well. The dressage horse must be supple and flexible. The
Arab does not normally show this, but this is due to the manner
in which he is trained. The dressage horse must be true in all
his gaits and paces. No breed enthusiast can say that all horses
in that particular breed are true in all gaits and paces, nor can
the Arabian people say that. In my opinion the average number of
horses with faulty gaits and paces would be about the same in any
breed. Some faults in the gaits of the horse are due to the
trainer, but many of them are inherited.
Some say that the Arabian is not big enough for
dressage, that he is short-strided. The Arabian horse is smaller
than most breeds, but then the Jaguar is smaller than the
Continental. The average Arabian, well started in his early
training can go stride for stride with any breed. Generally,
Arabs are trained by people for Arabian shows. I do not think
they have a counterpart anywhere in the world and that is not
good. Dressage is one of the three disciplines governed by the
Federation Equistre Internationale, and it is this body which
sets up rules for international competition. Dressage rides are
set up to be performed in a pre-determined time and each time is
checked. The geometry of the dressage ride is important and
therefore the number of strides in a given space is important.
I recently watched a Trakehner horse take 27
strides across the diagonal at the collected canter. I watched an
Arab do the same thing in 24 strides.
Until the year 1915, polo horses had to be 13-3
hands or under. It wasn't until the early 1930's that polo
players were allowed to use bigger horses. One seldom sees a polo
horse over 15-2 hands. I'm not saying that polo players use
Arabians; I am giving an example of the usefulness of smaller
horses compared to bigger horses.
Can Arabians make it in dressage? Sure they
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