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What Are Shagya Arabians?


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#1 chrisbailey

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 07:03 PM

The Shagya-Arabian







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North American Shagya-Arabian Society
The Shagya-Arabian Horse

The Shagya-Arabian combines the advantages of the Desert Arabian (elegant type, great hardiness and toughness, endurance, easy keeping, and inborn friendliness toward humans) with the requirements of the modern riding horse. These requirements are sufficient height, big frame, and great rideability including great movement and jumping ability.

Shagyas are typically 15 to 16 hands in height, with a minimum of 7 inches of bone at the cannon. Grey is the most common color, although there are also bay, chestnut and black Shagyas. Limbs are well-formed and dry.


History of the Shagya-Arabian

The Shagya-Arabian Horse was developed in the Austro-Hungarian Empire over 200 years ago. The breed originated from the need for a horse with the endurance, intelligence and character of an Arabian but with larger size and carrying capacity required by the Imperial Hussars. Over time, Shagyas were utilized both as carriage and light riding horses. The registry of the breed is the oldest next to the registry of the English Hunt Club.

The Shagya breed was originally developed at the Imperial Stud at Babolna, Hungary. Failed experiments with Spanish and Thoroughbred blood eventually led the breeders at Babolna to a cross of native Hungarian mares with stallions of pure Desert Arabian blood. Shagya bloodlines were also developed at the stud farms at Radautz (Hungary), Topolcianky (Czechoslovakia), Mangalia (Rumania), and Kabijuk (Bulgaria).

The breed takes its name from the dapple-grey stallion Shagya, born in 1810. The Bani Saher tribe of Bedouins, who lived in what is now Syria, bred Shagya and sold him to agents of the Habsburg monarchy. In 1836, he became the breeding stallion at Babolna. Shagya was prepotent and appears in almost all Shagya pedigrees.

One of the purposes of the Shagya breed has always been as improvers of other breeds. Shagya stallions appear in the bloodlines of many warmblood breeds. The Shagya mare "Jordi" is the dam of the great warmblood stallion "Ramzes." "Ramzes" descendant "Rembrandt" won the 1988 Olympic Gold Medal for dressage.

Shagyas not only served as cavalry horses, they were also prized as parade horses by European royalty. The Imperial Guard of the Habsburgs was always mounted on Shagyas. Every royal officer regarded it as a privilege to be able to ride a Shagya. The toughness, courage, endurance and rideability of these horses was legendary among European horsemen. The motto of the Hungarian breeders was "Nothing but the best is good enough."



Meet Thassia from Germany. She is owned by Kerrigan Bloodstock and is a good example of a PB Shagya mare.

thassia shagya mare.jpg

#2 lkirby

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:49 AM

Being able to import a purebred Arabian horse from the desert to Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries was very difficult, extremely expensive and almost totally reserved for very wealthy aristocrats and the nobility. Thus, it became a status symbol to ride a horse that looked like an Arabian. But, the lesser nobility and commoners had to be content with riding half-Arabian and part-Arabian horses. The Shagya (high-percentage) Arabian breed in Hungary were very popular throughtout Europe because they were carefully bred in the desert Bedouin tradition to look like Arabians and to be athletic, excellent-performing horses.

Lorna G. Kirby, PE
When you have gone through fire, you won't fade in the sun!!

#3 Dawn JL

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 07:41 AM

The development of the Shagya Arab had little to do with merely emulating the Arabian as a status symbol, but was instead a purposeful attempt to breed a horse that possessed certain desirable qualities of the Arabian breed in a larger framed, less hot-blooded horse that was more suitable for the needs of the Hungarian cavalry than the purebred Arabian. It is unfair to view the development of the Shagya breed only in terms of "settling" for a crossbred due to the rarity of purebred Arabians. Closed breeding books are a relatively modern development in Europe and the US, most horse breeding was done to produce types of horse suitable for specific purposes. Ownership of desert lineage Arabians *was* a status symbol much like owning big cats from Africa or any other "exotic" animal, but the use of the Arabian to develop other breeds was another measure of value that should not be dismissed as being of lesser importance. The Shagya was and is valued for being purpose bred (with rigorous selection criteria) for very specific traits outside the range that is typical of purebred Arabians.
Dawn Jones-Low
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#4 ironpaw

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 07:48 AM

Interesting discussion. Thank you for all participants presenting the different views. Breeds history is always fascinating.

Regards,

marisela

#5 chrisbailey

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 08:14 AM

Some pics of Shagya Arabians from Kerrigan bloodstock to demonstrate type

serena.jpg

Sharif and dam Samantha.jpg

sophie.jpg

#6 tiki-bird

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 10:37 AM

Several (around 15) Shagyas were among the WWII prizes-of-war importation of 1945, along with 18 PBs. However, the Shagyas were called "grade arabs" by the U.S. Army. As they were arab-type, they accompaned the PBs to the Pomona Remount depot. From there, stallions were placed with civilian agents for breeding and/or ranch use. I found the story of one such stallion (Jussuf V) in a 1950 Western Horseman magazine. After the war, European countries, notably Hungary, petitioned to have their horses returned, and Congress flip-flopped from agreement to rejection of the request. Jussuf's civilian agent had been enjoying the horse, who had won over some hard-headed Idaho ranchers to Arab horses. The congressional decision to return the European horse caused Jussuf to be whisked away from his Idaho home.
The decision to return the horses to Europe was reveresed, and when the Remount was disbanded, all the horses in depots across the country were consolidated at auction sites and were available to the public. Jussuf's former civilian agent bid on him. Happily, Jussuf was returned to his Idaho people, though this sceanrio was not always the outcome of these auctions.

Another story: a Hungarian countess in Montana managed to acquire 3 of the so-called "grade" (i.e. Shagya) mares. In 1959, one mare was bred to the prize-of-war stallion *Pilot to produce Hungarian Bravo, the first Shagya Arabian stallion used in the U.S. for pure Shagya breeding.

Preserving the bloodline of *Lotnik, WWII Prize of War

 

Author of Tennessee's Arabian Horse Racing Heritage
 


#7 Dawn JL

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 03:13 PM

tiki-bird, that's a bit of Remount history that I hadn't heard! Thanks for sharing that info.
Dawn Jones-Low
Faerie Court Farm
Magical Arabian Sport Horses

www.faeriecourtfarm.com
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#8 tiki-bird

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 06:27 AM

Thanks Dawn. It's kind of my pet research project. I was organizing a stack of materials yesterday and felt inspired to add to this thread.

Preserving the bloodline of *Lotnik, WWII Prize of War

 

Author of Tennessee's Arabian Horse Racing Heritage
 


#9 chrisbailey

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 07:00 AM

I appreciate anything added to this history. So few of us know that much about Shagya Arabians and would love the knowledge. I have been around them for the past few years and absolutely love their wonderful dispositions and eagerness to learn and please. What neat horses. Thanks for sharing!

#10 ironpaw

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:12 AM

Thanl you Tiki-bird for your contribution. I am sad that Hungary did not get his horses, they could have been saved. The unfairness of war once again.
Photo: At looking at the chestnut, the horse looks like a smaller warmblood.
For those that are familiar with this breed , How's their capacity to *sit* on their haunches?

regards,
marisela