AL SHAQAB - Arabian Horse
Written by Oryx
The Arabian horse played an important role in the founding of Qatar, and remains an important part of Qatari culture. Mr. Mohammed Al Sulaiti, Al Shaqab’s Breeding and Show manager, talks to Oryx about why the Arabian horse is so unique.
What makes the Arabian horse special?
For me, as a Qatari, it is the heritage of the Arabian horse breed that makes it special. The Arabian horse has remained a symbol of nobility and splendour through a succession of Islamic dynasties. Two-thirds of the known world, from China to Austria, was conquered on the backs of Arabian horses.
Why are they different from other breeds?
It is true that the purebred Arabian horse exhibits different physical characteristics from other horse breeds. They evolved to thrive in the harshest of environments – the Arabian Peninsula – an environment that influenced their distinct beauty. The Arabian is also intelligent, with a natural empathy for humans, is strong boned and strong willed, light on his feet, and highly athletic. The Arabian can do anything, and while he may not be able to compete with other breeds that are bred specifically to perform just one task to the highest level, more often than not we can find Arabian blood in the ancestors of these purposely bred horses. I would argue that the Arabian breed is the most perfect of all the horse breeds – the complete horse – and that’s what makes them different from other breeds.
How do you identify a winning Arabian horse? Are there specific characteristics or traits you look for?
The breed standard is defined in writing and describes the perfect Arabian horse, everything from height to hoof size, eye placement to proportion. A thorough knowledge of the breed standard will enable anyone to identify the ideal characteristics and a correct conformation of the Arabian horse. However, there is no perfect Arabian horse, therefore we make our breeding decisions based upon the breed standard, mating individuals of complementary conformation and characteristics. Then we test our breeding decisions at breed completions around the world where a panel of judges will evaluate and rank the horses against the breed standard.
Al Shaqab produced three world champions soon after the centre was founded. Which are the outstanding horses currently used for the breeding programme?
Our competition calendar culminates each year with the United States National Championship (USA) and the World Championship (Paris, France) – the two most competitive and therefore the most prestigious titles to be earned on the competition circuit. Since Al Shaqab’s establishment in 1992, the centre has been awarded seven US National Championships and 15 World Championships. No other breeding establishment has ever been awarded this number of prestigious titles. Al Shaqab is also the world’s only breeder of three successive generations of world champions (Gazal Al Shaqab, Marwan Al Shaqab, and the full brothers Kahil Al Shaqab and Wadee ?Al Shaqab). Additionally, Marwan Al Shaqab is the only stallion in the breed’s history to have been named two-times US National Champion ?and three-times World Champion, and in 2014 Marwan Al Shaqab was presented with the Leading Sire of World Champions award for the eighth consecutive year.
What can visitors to Doha do at Al Shaqab – is it possible for them to visit the centre and learn more about Arabian horses?
We welcome visitors to the breeding and show department of Al Shaqab, preferably during business hours, Sunday to Thursday. It would be our pleasure to introduce visitors to the Arabian horse and provide a tour of the department’s state-of-the-art facility designed specifically to support the activities of breeding and showing Arabian horses.
Follow Al Shaqab on social media
Qatar Airways, world’s 5-star airline, flies to more than 130 destinations worldwide.