About the Breed
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 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 Topolcianky (Czechoslovakia), Radautz (Rumania) Mangalia (Rumania), and Kabijuk (Bulgaria).
The breed takes its name from the dapple-grey stallion Shagya, born in 1830. 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."