anonymous asked:

Are there any particular health issues associated with the Arabian Horse?

That’s a prickly question.

Horse people spend a lot of time talking about conformation. It’s important that a horse moves well and is comfortable to ride. There’s all sorts of detail about the angles of all the joints in the limb, where the neck meets the head, how low the back sinks, how round the hind quarters are an all sorts of things that I’m not interested in at all.

Horses and I do not ‘click’. I find them interesting from a distance but I don’t worship the ground they walk on, and there are plenty of other people out there who do. I gave up horse work after this particular incident, and I have no desire to go back to it.

Consequently I can’t talk about horse breeds in as much detail as I would other species.

I have maintained frequently on this blog that the more extreme the anatomy, the more problems you will encounter. I’m not going to talk about horse legs, because as far as I can tell issues there are not breed specific, and there are far better people than I to talk about those. Instead, let’s regard the Arabian head.

(Image Source: By Ealdgyth - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, )

That’s not a bad horse. There is a slight dish to the face characteristic of the breed, but it’s really just an aesthetic.

(Updated image source)

This one, on the other hand, raises questions.

You can’t tell me that’s not going too far. I know certain breeders were breeding their horses to be ‘living art’ rather than for a function, and enthusiasts will claim that the Arabian head has it’s distinct appearance to ‘make the breed breathe better’, but I think that’s mostly wishful thinking. There is no way the grey horse pictures above has a breathing advantage over the bay.

There is also limited free space in the head of a horse when you account for those enormous teeth.

(Image source)

You need to be able to fit those teeth and a big airway in the head of a horse, and if you insist on dishing it out something has to compromise. Arabians are already sometimes referred to as having “Dental challenges.”

There are a number of genetic conditions that Arabian horses carry.

Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and Lavender Foal Syndrome are both recessive lethal conditions and affected foals don’t survive very long. There is a DNA test for both of these, so conscientious breeders could eliminate these conditions.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy also has a genetic test available, it causes progressive incoordination from early adulthood.

The breed is known to get epilepsy, which is not great if you were intending to ride the horse.

They also get Gutteral Pouch Tympany, where air is trapped in their gutteral pouch due to an excessively long membrane. It’s unclear whether this is genetic, or anatomical in nature. Time will tell.

So they are the particular issues of the Arabian horse of which I am aware, though if you were looking for information about anything that isn’t the head or genetics, I’m not the best person to ask.

**Updated with a better dished face example

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