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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Shagya Arabian (Shagya)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Shagya Arabian is a Hungarian horse breed, which was created by crossing Hungarian mares with Arabian stallions. Therefore, this breed should not be confused with the "Arabian" breed, as it is not a pure strain of the Arabian horse, but rather a completely separate breed.

The Shagya Arabian was created near the end of the 18th century, at the Imperial Babolna Stud Farm, when the breeders there decided to cross local Hungarian mares with Arabian stallions, in order to create fine cavalry horses. During the following years, the stud continued breeding these horses, which looked like Arabians but were taller and more muscular.

In 1836, a grey Arabian stallion called Shagya was imported from Syria to the Babolna Stud. This stallion, together with other imported Arabian stallions, was crossed with the mares of the stud, and left a prominent mark on the new breed. In 1982, this breed officially received the name "Shagya Arabian."

Originally created to serve as cavalry horses, Shagya Arabians were bred to be taller and stronger than desert Arabians, while preserving their impressive endurance and speed. Nevertheless, these horses also served as riding horses for various disciplines, especially among riders of the higher class, because compared to Arabian horses, Shagya Arabians performed better in show-jumping, due to their strength. In addition, they also served as harness horses for pulling light carriages, and today, Shagya Arabians are mainly used for endurance riding, eventing, and driving.

In general, the conformation of Shagya Arabians is similar to that of Arabians, but there are some key differences between the two. First, Shagya Arabians are more muscular, and therefore appear to be heavier. Second, the necks of Shagya Arabians are thicker and less arched. Third, the withers of Shagya Arabians are more prominent, their backs are more arched, and their croups less flat. Finally, Shagya Arabians are generally larger and taller. It is also worth noting that while all Shagya Arabians have concave profiles, they are usually not as dished as the iconic profile of Arabian horses.

Shagya Arabians are often grey or bay in color, though chestnut and, in rare cases, black horses, can be found as well. The full height range of the Shagya Arabian breed is 14.3hh to 16.1hh, but most Shagya Arabians stand between 15hh and 16hh.

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