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Breed bashing? Not--a more historical perspective (long) Part 4

Part 4
And back to Arabs...  For centuries the Arab was bred as the ultimate "generalist" saddle horse, and was tough and wiry, and had an in-the-tent disposition.  Those Arabs can still be found, and more and more breeders are returning to breeding them.  But like most other breeds, the show ring has not done the Arabs any favors as saddle horses.  The halter trend in Arabs has been a long, weak back, excessively long cannons, little depth to the body, etc., and disposition has gone out the window in the show ring as well, as the trainers prefer to breed horses that only trainers can handle (keep one's job going, you know), and unlike the stock breeds, which have become beef-on-the-tiny-hoof contests, the Arab halter ring has become a who-can-look-the-craziest contest.  So while Arabs still dominate the sport of endurance by virtue of the fact that there are still a fair number of breeders who have tried to maintain old standards and to heck with the show ring, one can't just open up the Classified ads and assume that any Arab there will be an endurance prospect, either.  With the long-backed fad in Arabs, I've seen a mind-boggling increase in back problems and resulting lamenesses in Arabs in the past 20 years vetting rides.  Sad.  So that's one thing one needs to take care avoiding in modern Arabs.  And there are others.
Bottom line--no matter what the breed, you need to first educate yourself to the general qualities that it takes to do endurance, and then carefully shop within the breed to find those individuals who have those qualities.  Yes, your odds are higher with the Arabs, but just because the horse is an Arab does not automatically make it an endurance prospect.  Nor does the horse become automatically ruled out just because he isn't an Arab.  And good endurance horses are often related to each other, since both the biomechanical traits and the metabolic traits needed for success tend to be heritable--so once you've seen a few related ones of ANY breed that do well, you can often shorten your search by seeking out more related individuals when you go horse shopping.
Heidi (who loves her old-style Arabs, is eternally greatful for their wonderful dispositions and athletic capabilities, and has no interest in personally riding anything else--but who never ceases to admire a GOOD horse of ANY breed or breeding....)

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