Extraordinary Colours & Characteristics of The Arabian Horse

Extraordinary Colours & Characteristics of The Arabian Horse

Breed Facts

The Arabian horse was first domesticated way back in 1500 BC with nomad tribes of the Sahara desert prizing them not only for their sheer beauty, but for their loyalty and speed too. These fleet of foot, small horses were to become some of the most treasured throughout the world which is hardly surprising when you think the Bedouin tribes of the desert were able to recite the ancestry of all the Arabian horses they owned – with some horses taking pride of place within a family group.

As with most horse breeds, Arabs boast traditional or standard colours which are commonly either bay, grey, chestnut, roan and black. However, if the truth be known the magnificent Arabian breed boasts many more interesting colours with some of them being quite rare. The Bedouin tribes of the Sahara desert, treasure their horses and for centuries have kept their bloodlines as pure as possible, with rarer more unusual colours being highly prized by these nomads just as much as by fans of the breed in throughout the rest of the world.

Below is a list and descriptions of the more unusual colours that pure bred Arabs can be including a few very rare ones.

Sabino – A Distinctive Pinto Pattern

Arabian horses are renowned for their beauty, their majesty and their incredible endurance. These small desert-bred equines have inspired by painters and poets for many centuries, they have been the subject of many a legend so when it comes to horses boasting extraordinary colours, it doesn't get much better than with an Arabian.

Sabino can be likened to a pinto pattern which can also be seen in the lovely Clydesdale. Arabian horses with this colouring boast white socks that stretch right over their knees and very often they have a splash of white on their underbellies.

Sabino Arabs have predominantly white faces which are extremely eye catching. The colour black is the rarest of all Sabino Arabian horses and there is even a specific horse registry for them.

Maximo Sabino – A Gorgeous Variation

The elegant Arabian horse carried their masters across the desert, they were ridden on raiding parties against enemies, and were raced by their owners with the prize being the choice of the best horses in the loser's herd. History shows that a gift of an Arabian horse was indeed a great honour – these highly prized equines took pride of place within a tripe with some horses having some superb markings and colours which included a variation of Sabino, namely Maximo Sabino.

The colour Maximo Sabino is a gorgeous variation of the Sabino coat seen in some Arabians with the horse boasting a coat that's entirely white. However their ears are solid darker colours which makes them stand out from the crowd in a superb unique way. Sometimes this same solid colour can appear in the horses' mane too, the result is extremely striking. One of the most famous Maximo Sabino coloured thoroughbreds in recent years was a mare called Patchen Beauty, she had just a few chestnut hairs scattered along her body giving her a very distinctive appeal.

A Lovely Shade of Dun

For the Bedouin tribes of the Sahara desert, the purity of their horse's bloodline was all important and they kept records of the ancestry of their horses which they committed to memory. Stories were told that were passed from generation to generation with no written records ever having been made. If a mare was bred to an “unsuitable” stallion, the Bedouin tribes would consider she had been contaminated and that she would never be able to produce a foal that was pure of blood ever again!

There are some people who believe that dun was one of the original colour variations of the Arabian horse. Today, many foals are born with a colouring that lends itself to thinking they will be dun coloured in their adult years. However, their colour changes by the time they become yearlings, and sometimes earlier, but just occasionally, a horse will retain a lovely shade of dun with some even boasting a strikingly darker dorsal stripe down their spines. But there is a debate with other people thinking the colour dun shows the horse may not be of pure blood Arabian lines – and the argument is bound to go on!

A Palomino Colour With a Difference

There are many things and characteristics that set an Arabian horse apart. One of which is their distinct face with its delicate dished profile and large attractive, prominent eyes. Then,there's its “teacup” muzzle and wide gorgeously flaring nostrils. For the Bedouin, the large forehead of an Arabian shows the horse to possess supreme intelligence. The way a Arab holds its tail high in the air shows the steed is proud and the way the breed arches its neck, proves its incredible courage, and each of these traits are held in high esteem by the Bedouin tribes.

Arabian horses are stunning looking creatures no matter what colour they happen to be. However, when one shows up that boasts a palomino colouring, the effect is more than just striking. There is some debate as to how pure bred these horses are, but the shades seen are anything from bright champagne coloured to extremely light chestnut with the manes and tails being much lighter than the body. The gene structure for Palomino colours is very complex but it's thought to be caused by a variation of the red gene factor and this is often seen in Arabian horses.


It can be said these colours are pretty rarely seen in the Arabian horse but when it does happen, the horses are highly prized by one and all. There are certain things that all pure bred Arabian horses have in common is the fact they boast black skin and they have one less vertebrae than any other breed of horse. Whether these extraordinary colours belong to pure bred Arabians is a matter for debate but as an old proverb once said – “A good horse is never a bad colour”.

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