All month long we will be featuring speaker’s abstracts for the upcoming Equine History Conference: Why Equine History Matters. Register now!
How an Oriental Warhorse Became a Global Trophy Horse
Hylke Hettema, Leiden University
The Arabian horse is one of the most popular breeds in the world, and generally quoted to be one of the oldest and purest breeds. The Arabian is also said to have influenced the development of nearly every modern light horse breed and although the contact between Arab and European cultures predates the 19th century in which many modern breeds were first defined, most of the circulating general knowledge on origin and history of the Arabian horse stems from Orientalist writings. Remarkably the Arabian horse was not considered superior to other breeds until the end of the 18th century, when the European and American interest in the Orient begins to bloom and the current assumption that the Arabian horse is superior to most other breeds starts to prevail. However no academic research has been done into the sudden change in European and American attitude towards Arab equestrian culture and auxiliary horses, or, the motive for the seemingly abrupt transition of the Arabian horse from Oriental warhorse to a Global trophy horse.
This paper will investigate the process of the Arabian horse climbing to its current superior status in global equestrian culture and subsequent impact on general knowledge. Examining Orientalist writings that portray the Arabian horse as superior to all western breeds, this paper will investigate probable factors that may have played a part in the change in status of the Arabian horse from Oriental warhorse to a Global trophy horse.
Read our Member Monday profile of Hylke Hettema here.