Near the beginning of the 19th century, breeders from the Austro-Hungarian were searching for the perfect calvalry, one that was strong, beautiful, obedient, and had lots of endurance. The famous Arabian horses caught their eye, so they imported a desert stallion named Shagya from Syria. Because they wanted larger, stronger horses, this horse was bred to several breeds of horses, including the Thoroughbred, Lippizzaners from the Siglavy line, and several Asian and Spanish horses. Afterward, the best offspring were bred to other Arabians.
|Shagyas are typically grey or white, though chestnut and bay can also be found.|
The result of this cross-breeding was a Arabian-type horse with stronger, more substantial bone, and a calmer temperament. The breed became quite popular throughout Europe. It was not only used as a calvalry mount, but also as a royal parade horse and a carriage horse. After World War II, however, most countries didn't see breeding horses as a priority. Consequently, the number of Shagya-Arabians dropped to the 3,000 they are today. They remain extremely popular in Hungary, though.
In 1947, a Shagya-Arabian named Bravo was imported to America and bred to create the American line of Shagyas. His sons and daughters are being used for breeding today.
Breed Description and Uses
The Shagya-Arabian, named for the foundation stallion, stands 15 to 16 hands high and has the same high-set tail as the Arabian. However, it is much more substantial and less refined than pure blooded Arabians, with stronger hindquarters and bigger bone.
Today, they are used dressage, jumping, eventing, endurance racing, and even as a western mount by some.