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  1. #1
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    Default Physical attributes of an endurance horse?

    Please bear with me and keep the to a minumum!

    So what exactly IS it that makes Arabs such amazing endurance horses?

    I mean REALLY...it can't just be size or reach at the trot or croup angle or shoulder angle-other breeds have those things as well-right?

    What IS it conformationally? Or physically that makes them different?


    Or I guess I am asking what things physically make a good endurance prospect.

    I know it has something to do with dispersing heat, ability to lower heart rate faster-but what makes arabs better at this than other breeds?

    Sorry for the dumb question of the day.

    What things make you go for an endurance horse.

    Bear with me.



  2. #2
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    OH just wanted to add THIS little muffin.

    Now if THIS is what getting an arab gets you, please give me a barnful!

    http://www.belesemo.com/images/sales_morocco.jpg

    I am in love.



  3. #3
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    Default

    Having owned and ridden a half-Arab for over 20 years, and having competed in distance riding for a few of those years...I'm (blush) hard-pressed to give any sort of substantial answer. I've read a lot on the subject, but it's all sort of floating around somewhere in nogginland; you will get some much more knowledgeable comments than mine.

    I DO recall something about the Arab being referred to as a 'drinker of the wind', with larger than usual nostrils. The compact build from one less vertabrae is probably relevant, too. I'm not sure if average Arabian 'heart size' is a factor at all...I think many Arabs have good bone and feet (often larger than normal hooves, harking back to their days on desert sand).

    As with any breed, conformation varies widely i.e. the Crabbet line vs. Polish. I had a p/b Arab along with my 'half' for a few years; my p/b gelding had amazing P & R recovery with minimal conditioning (although he was an emotional guy!) and floated over ground, while my mare had a springy and jarring trot.

    They both did quite well in competition, but were very different in appearance...the gelding was gorgeous to watch in motion, but conformationally NOT prettily built (great head, though). My mare was less 'flowy' over the ground, but really nicely put together i.e. pinned well in halter when we did a show on a dare.

    Now, I'd better leave any more explanations up to the folks with better memories and more solid info. However, regarding the 'Belesemo' link above, I was lucky enough to put some miles on one of their young stallions (sold to an acquaintance) one year.

    Belesemo Echo was a gorgeous young guy, and had a great future in endurance/breeding; tragically, after winning his first 50 miler he was somehow struck by a vehicle in camp after the race. He survived the accident, but I'm not sure if he was even breeding sound afterward...I heard all this secondhand, but it still really gets to me when I think of it.

    Sorry to end on a downer . My Arabians taught me a ton, and sure converted me to this personable breed (although I'm not nuts about the too-pretty and refined halter type). And despite the pain of losing my mare when she was in her mid-20's and her arthritis progressed to a severe level, I still find inspiration in her real HEART...always game for more.



  4. #4
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    Default

    i was dsicussing this with a friend last night and her guesses were the points you made-nostril size, less vertebrae, bone and hoof size.

    She also mentioned the deep heart girth.....ummm....oh thin skin for easier heat displacement.

    How sad on the Belesemo stallion! I am in no way in the market for another horse-but window shopping is so fun...and the little link I posted-heck he might be ALL wrong for endurance but MAN he is so so adorable.

    Of course if anyone wants to share any links so I can educate my eye, window shopping IS fun!



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMH View Post
    i was dsicussing this with a friend last night and her guesses were the points you made-nostril size, less vertebrae, bone and hoof size.

    She also mentioned the deep heart girth.....ummm....oh thin skin for easier heat displacement.
    The less vertebrae thing is a myth. TB's usually have deeper heart girths, large nostrils and thin skin so that's not it either. Good feet? Yes, most of them have solid feet but then so do Andalusians.

    My guess is that Arabians have been bred for centuries to have a high percentage of slow twitch muscling and relatively slow metabolisms (which makes them predisposed to laminitis if not in regular work and/or fed like a TB racehorse: lots of grain and green grass). These horses were selected for hardiness and the ability to cover long distances under extremely harsh conditions. The ones who couldn't hack it did not breed on.



  6. #6
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    Default

    I don't really think it's so much their conformation, hoof size, etc... though that has something to do with it. It's their natural stamina. In my experience, even an unconditioned Arabian has more stamina than a conditioned horse of a lot of other breeds. Like the last poster said, it's something that has been bred into them for... well ages.



  7. #7
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    http://www.mustangs4us.com/adopt_a_mustang.htm


    here is a link that i thought would be good for people to read.the mustang in both cases was ridden by arab lovers and both times they fell in love with the mustang and said that the mustang was the better horse for endurance riding.



  8. #8
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    Default

    You'll likely get as many opinions as people who answer

    For me, conformation plays a role, certainly,
    I tend to look for nice leg/shoulder angles/ good solid overall bone. Hopefully a nice fast walk/swinging trot, and in a perfect world, a comfy canter
    I prefer a horse with a deeper barrel and a lower resting pulse if possible.
    Nice cannon, good hard and well maintained feet.

    Wider nostrils, and I will admit, I prefer a horse with a tougher eye, that's a personal preference, I like independent horses)


    I don't so much go for the typey arabs, in all honestly, given a choice between two similar built horses, I'll pick the part bred arab over a purebred for a performance horse.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



  9. #9
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    If you visit www.aerc.org you can find many articles under the Education tab that are quite technical. They discuss metabolism, digestion, energy efficiency, musculature, etc. I remember reading a study linked on there somewhere comparing Arabians to Thoroughbreds and it was determined that the muscle type that Arabs possess allows them far great stamina, which the TBs possess much great speed over a shorter distance. Something to do with slow twitch and fast twitch.

    I think conformation has a tremendous amount to do with gait efficiency and soundness over the long haul. Just like with the hooves (), if one structure is lacking, the others must compensate. If the horse is lacking in some aspect of his conformation, then other areas of the body are unfairly stressed.

    I did a lot of distance riding with my QH, but being built 3 inches downhill, it was a fight to keep her off her forehand. She can do it, but it takes a good deal of balance and correct riding from me. I have to constantly work at her gaits and not just let her string out and pound on the forehand. My Arab on the other hand is light as a feather up front and requires nothing from me at all except to sit balanced and let her work. She never naturally falls on the forehand. It's just not in her conformation to do so. So naturally a horse that is more correctly built will move and work more correctly with less effort.

    Also Arabians have been bred for centuries as horses of war, stamina, speed, and to work under harsh conditions for many hours at a clip. It's natural for them to be workers over the distance. Some Arabs are raced on the flat track of course, but just like in any breeds, lines are developed to specialize in different sports.

    Some Arabs do have one less vertebrae, and some don't. It depends on the lines and genetics. Arabians tend to have a very flat back with well sprung ribs, which allows for more lung expansion. From what I've seen, even if an Arab is no wider than a fence rail between the front legs, the back is still wide and flat as a couch because the ribs are sprung out so far.

    Also Arabians are smaller and lighter than TBs (and most other breeds), which means less mass to carry over the distance. A 900 pound fit Arab is capable of going a greater distance at higher speed than a 1200 pound horse of another breed, considering ALL other things are equal. It's like the difference in a 130 pound marathon runner and a 250 pound weight lifter. Different types for different jobs.



  10. #10
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    Default

    FWIW -- I've got three TBs that are all very different in conformation, but all very good at the sport.

    My NZ TB has surprised other riders as well as the vets at rides with his recovery rates -- in fact, at his fittest, when we vetted in last time, his intake pulse checker wasn't sure he was still alive as his resting was so low! He has done one season and at the last LD he completed, pulling on me, I was advised that it was time to move him up -- he vetted in at the end looking like he had just been on a 15 minute stroll. He is a lean 15.2, with long, stringy more slow twitch muscles, so he's ideally suited.

    The odd thing is that my big TB (16.2 hh with a barrel that required a custom made *58*" girth), who has done some training but not a ton, has a nice low resting and can go out and trot 12 miles and pulse down exactly with a small arab who was fit for a 50.

    He's so big, we just knew he was going to have a hard time with the vet checks etc. but he surprisingly has the systems to do well, though they are in a large, bony package.

    The other little TB has more of a bunchy QH body style, but a huge heart and respiration system and can go forever once fit. He has a bit of a harder time avoiding the beer belly syndrome, but once he's fit, he's amazing.

    So, I think it just depends -- good heart, (size as well as theorectical), good oxygen delivery system, and good bone, all of which my boys have.

    The "want to" is the most important, I think, though.

    LMH -- I hope you are having fun! I've been doing LDs for only a season, and am going to keep eventing, but I like it enough that my new filly was chosen for the fact that she is ideal for both endurance and eventing.

    libby
    *Proud member of the Hoof Fetish Clique*
    **********************************
    I have Higher Standards ...do you? Find us on FB!
    Higher Standards Custom Leather Care -- Handcrafted Saddle Soap



  11. #11
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    thanks for all the great answers.

    It has given me alot to think about in terms of my own expectations with the horses I have as well as what I would do should I ever buy a horse with endurance in mind.

    It sounds like get the brain right, do the best you can with the body you have and really get familiar with heart rates!

    I can't wait for my 3yo to get going in this one day...he might end up to thick for anything BIG but he is a tough cuss with a HUGE heart and very good brain.

    libby-

    THIS IS A BLAST! I am LOVING every moment of my new fun.

    This weekend will be my first official ride-just an 11 mile Fun Ride in Dawsonville GA...but it will let me know how I am doing preparing my TB so far-at least mentally how he is doing.

    Honestly I don't think it should be allowed to have this much fun.

    I mean I STOOD in the Etowah River with my little IHF bred TB...I never thought those words would come out of my mouth!

    The things we are doing seem so small to what 'real' endurance riders are doing but for us this is just fantastic!

    We have lots of new experiences we will have and who knows where we will end up! That is the real fun, isn't it?



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bensmom View Post
    FWIW -- I've got three TBs that are all very different in conformation, but all very good at the sport.

    My NZ TB has surprised other riders as well as the vets at rides with his recovery rates -- in fact, at his fittest, when we vetted in last time, his intake pulse checker wasn't sure he was still alive as his resting was so low! He has done one season and at the last LD he completed, pulling on me, I was advised that it was time to move him up -- he vetted in at the end looking like he had just been on a 15 minute stroll. He is a lean 15.2, with long, stringy more slow twitch muscles, so he's ideally suited.

    The odd thing is that my big TB (16.2 hh with a barrel that required a custom made *58*" girth), who has done some training but not a ton, has a nice low resting and can go out and trot 12 miles and pulse down exactly with a small arab who was fit for a 50.

    He's so big, we just knew he was going to have a hard time with the vet checks etc. but he surprisingly has the systems to do well, though they are in a large, bony package.

    The other little TB has more of a bunchy QH body style, but a huge heart and respiration system and can go forever once fit. He has a bit of a harder time avoiding the beer belly syndrome, but once he's fit, he's amazing.

    So, I think it just depends -- good heart, (size as well as theorectical), good oxygen delivery system, and good bone, all of which my boys have.

    The "want to" is the most important, I think, though.

    LMH -- I hope you are having fun! I've been doing LDs for only a season, and am going to keep eventing, but I like it enough that my new filly was chosen for the fact that she is ideal for both endurance and eventing.

    libby

    bensmom that is why people over in the states are looking for new zealand tb's because they can do anything and also because they are at grass all year round.gothedistance what you say is true but when it comes down to it a arab at a canter can be beaten by a mustang and appy going past it in a trot.



  13. #13
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    by what i read the mustang that passed the arab at a trot was in hot weather.also i read on a link somewhere forgotten now will look for it later and post it up once i have found it.the article was about this lady riding in the tevis cup and on how she had to ride next to a mustang because her arab and fallen over a couple of times and another one i read was off one rider who's arab horse and fallen over and went down a 750metre drop he said that in was going to follow any mustang that was on the trail.also i am looking at importing a few mustangs to new zealand and show the new zealand arab breeders what mistakes they have made and i have friends that have said to me when i get them here to new zealand they will want to breed from the mustang stallion so they can do endurance and these are people that have appy's and arabs.



  14. #14
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    also most of the websites that i have looked at for endurance and shown that the most top ten finishes in events and best condition score are the mustangs.



  15. #15
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    i was looking at the natrc website and and last time i was in the states i saw heaps of mustangs on the westcoast i also saw a pretty bad accident with a arab horse rider and horse rider broke their knee and horse fell down the side of the hill.which is something a mustang won't do is fall down a hill and also they look after themselfs and their rider and won't run themselfs into the ground like i have seen many arabs do here in new zealand and on the west coasts in the states.



  16. #16
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    Somehow I don't believe you are looking at the same evidence as all the rest of us. And really, have you ever seen an Arab at it's huge, effortless extended trot?? I know a very accomplished endurance rider who's Arab could trot 22 miles an hour. Now, that is extreme. But still, you aren't going to tell me that a stocky Mustang or Appy can out trot a leggy Arabian. It just isn't going to happen. I have never seen an Appy with a trot worth anything at all. And I'm afraid I don't know what websites you're cruising either.



  17. #17
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    have a look at arabs and endurance has i have posted the links there for everyone to see.also appys have what is called the indian shuffle if the appy is a purebreed and not a out cross.also have you guys ever heard of mustang lady.http://www.wildhorseandburro.blm.gov/spotlight/lady.htm

    that is the link of mustang lady and has a bit of info on her and what she has done with mustangs and endurance.



  18. #18
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    Honestly I don't think it should be allowed to have this much fun.
    I feel exactly the same way!

    I'm glad you are having the same experience that I've had -- the people are great, the sport is great -- it is all wonderful!

    Now, I didn't buy a baby Arabian, but she is part-Shagya/Hungarian Felver and is going to be ideally suited for the sport. Both her granddam and her sire have competed successfully -- both grandsires having done eventing/dressage and endurance.

    I've found that the time you spend with your horse in this sport is just wonderful and the horsemanship exhibited by most participants exemplary, no matter what breed you choose to ride.

    Libby (who thinks this is just more fun that we should be allowed to have too)
    www.efduffy.blogspot.com
    *Proud member of the Hoof Fetish Clique*
    **********************************
    I have Higher Standards ...do you? Find us on FB!
    Higher Standards Custom Leather Care -- Handcrafted Saddle Soap



  19. #19
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    Needed physical attributes for any horse to be successful at endurance (and remember the AERC motto regarding success, "To finish is to win"} are soundness and soundness. You can do endurance on a pony (I remember a good one finishing the Tevis years ago) or a great big mutt (like Freckles who I did a 100 on in my penny loafers also years ago) as long as the horse is sound of limb, tummy, and lungs. Plusses are things like a horse that pushes rather than drags himself up hills. Mental attributes are a desire to see what's down the trail and a certain saneness so you don't get killed at the start. Again these traits can be found in any horse. Finally rider attributes count alot - proper feeding and conditioning and nurturing are needed. Often a really gutsy rider (willing to canter down mountains for instance) is needed for a horse to win as well.

    I agree though that if you want to win you should shop for an Arab. Other reasons they are popular - cheap, short, and a certain bias by vets towards them. For example, Arabs on the trot out will commonly be prancy, whereas lots of other breeds won't. Shouldn't really be judged the same but the Arab will often get higher marks on impulsion/attitude kinds of things than a cooler breed of horse. In my case, if my 16:3 horse acted like an Arab, I couldn't use him for endurance at all, being old and decrepit myself.

    Yes there is nothing like going to an endurance ride for the weekend. Even the coming home part and the first shower you drag your tired body into is fun. Maybe we are sick...



  20. #20
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    While I appreciate your defense of appys and mustangs, I think you are overlooking some very important evidence in regards to the level of performance and consistency of the arab breed when it comes to endurance. They dominate the sport for a reason.. they are very very good at it. Thats not to say other breeds can't do well, I tend to ride partbred arabs myself, however if you go look on the aerc website, and the international rides, the overwhelming breed is arab, B.C. and top tens.

    I hold appaloosas near and dear to my heart, however-- the 'new' appys are nothing more then pretty colored quarterhorse types(imo)--and not the same type of apps that were competing in the tevis back in the day- the appys you are speaking of are the old style appys. and much much more difficult to find.

    The best I have atm, is I managed to find an older type appy reg mare, and bred her to an arab, hopefully I get to ride my happy appy/arab and do well. best of both worlds(crosses fingers)

    also, mustangs come in a bazillions sizes/shapes/and genetic material, because it's a feral non controlled breeding program. Yes some mustangs are tough and good distance goers, but not all of them have the capability, they aren't bred for endurance, they just well.. breed!

    I've seen a few mustangs in the sport, and admired them yes, but overall arabs do rule the roost. I think any breed has the potential to do endurance, given the right mind/conformation and 'try' However to be realistic if you wish to market horses to the endurance world, arabs deserve some serious and very well earned consideration.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.



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