Shagya Arabian Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

If you admire the appearance of Arabian horses, be sure to check out the Shagya Arabian. This related breed brings new characteristics and versatility to the beloved classic desert horse!

The Shagya Arabian is a beautiful horse whose bloodlines go back to the 18th century. These versatile and adored horses are considered to be partly Arabian. 

White Shagya Arabian

The Shagya is beautiful and headstrong, with the ability to please her humans. With an impressive history and strong bloodlines, the Shagya Arabian is a breed to consider. Her growing popularity is easy to understand as she is versatile and has a wonderful temperament. 


The history of the Shagya Arabian reaches back before the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the 18th century. Studs can be traced back to the towns of Babolna, Radautz, Mezohegyes, Piber, and Topolcianky. 

In 1789, in Babolna, Hungary, military men combined large native horses with the bloodlines of top Bedouin Arabians.

The men had an aspiring goal. They wanted to create a horse that had hardiness, grace, devotion, and the traits of an athlete.

This new breed would serve the Hungarian military well, and it would also be the birth of a new breeding program. The Shagya Arabian was developed as a horse that had endurance and energy built for heavy cavalry work.

The breed was initially referred to as having Arab blood, as they were primarily of Arabian ancestry. However, after the second world war, hippologist Dr. Gramazky changed this. He was concerned that the non-purebred lineage of the horse would end up being confused with the purebred Arabian. 

One of the founding sires was named Shagya, who became the foundation stallion. He was a gray part Arabian stallion Shagya breed with traces of Kehilan and Siglavy. 

With his strong Arabian breeding, Shagya was born in 1830, and he was noticeably taller than the original Arabian of the time. He stood at almost 16 hands and weighed roughly 1,168 pounds. 

He was raised by the Bani Saher tribe of Syria before being sold to the Hapsburgs in 1836. Every horse since carries his breeding line DNA.

Shagya was used for crossbreeding in Babolna, as were many of the stallions. They were crossbred with Arabian mares who had a considerable amount of Arabian blood. 

The long Turkish occupation in Eastern Europe had created some Thoroughbreds and Lipizzans. Perfect records were kept. 

These horses were mixed into the breeding program for their strength and agility. The Shagya-Arabian was quickly becoming the breed of choice for the cavalry officer. 


The Shagya Arabian, sometimes known as the Shagya Araber, may not be considered a purebred Arabian, but they have a significant status at the World Arabian Horse Organization (WAHO)

In 1978, the group stated that the horses that were bred after the system used with Babolna studs and in the town of Topolicianky may be called “purebred Shagya-Arabians.” However, the group was also quite clear that a purebred in this particular case meant that the horses were purebred among themselves and were not the same as the purebred Arabian. 

Still, some argue that Hungarian stud horses have produced offspring that hold a more robust and more extensive pedigree than some of the registered purebred Arabians because of the perfect recordkeeping. 

Nevertheless, the Shagya Arabian remains a specific bloodline group to this day and is not accepted as a purebred Arabian. But, because performance testing began at the start of the breeding program, the Shagya Arabian has maintained its rigorous nature. 

In 1986, the foundation at the North American Shagya-Arabian Society introduced the breed to the United States. It is now becoming readily established in North America, and stud farms have extended into Venezuela. 

Characteristics, Size, And Color

The Shagya Arabian breeding certainly looks similar to the asil or purebred Arabian! Her tail is carried proudly, and she is of a solid bone structure, and her endurance is top-notch. 

But due to the breeding goals of the Hungarian stud-horse, the Shagya does appear to be a bit taller and bigger boned than her Arabian counterparts. And this is to the liking of many people who love Arabians but also appreciate the more prominent bone structure. 

The Shagya’s solid muscled chest makes them more compact than other breeds, and she posses sturdy cannon bones and excellent feet and hooves

She is most often seen in grey but has also been seen in other colors that are similarly seen in Arabian horses. Chestnut, white, and bay are commonly seen colors. 

Her eyes are soft and expressive with that Arabian exotic look that seems to win our hearts. She has a watchful gaze that shows her intelligence.


The Shagya Arabian is considered an easy keeper, as their loving temperament makes them an absolute pleasure to own. Aside from being friendly and people orientated, they are versatile and persistent-making them eager to work for you. 

Their speed and fearlessness are perfect if you are a casual rider or a stern competitor. Because of their intelligence, they are one of a kind. 

However, they are also emotional and can get bored quickly if confined to a small area. While it’s not necessary, they do appreciate the companionship of other horses as it incorporates a better environment and eases boredom. 


The diet of the Shagya is much like that of the Arabian, consisting of hay, pasture grass, and grains. She has a lesser food intake than that of other horses but still requires a proper diet, good care, and a pleasant environment. 

Be careful not to overfeed and trust your veterinarian’s recommendation for food. Because they were generally used as war horses, the breed is capable of going more extended periods with little food and water. 

While several equine lovers enjoy giving lawn clippings to their horses, be sure that they don’t contain harmful toxins, as they have a sensitive digestive system. 

As with any horse, a proper schedule should be considered. These agile and high-spirited horses love to graze and thrive on green pastures. 

A healthy diet will ensure their good nature and robust health, along with fertility and stamina. 

Health Challenges

Because they share a bloodline with the Arabian, the Shagya can carry some potential genetic conditions that you should be aware of. 

1. Immunodeficiency 

Though rare, combined immunodeficiency can result in the failure of the body to build protection against pathogens. Be wary of recurrent infections or treatments that fail to work. 

2. Lavender Foal Syndrome 

Lavender Foal Syndrome (LFS) is a recessive genetic disorder that generally affects the foals of horses with an Arabian bloodline. Sadly, they are usually born with severe neurological difficulties and often require euthanasia after birth. 

3. Cerebella Abiotrophy

Cerebella Abiotrophy (CA) is a neurological, genetic disorder that can affect certain horse breeds, along with the Arabian and those with its bloodlines. Horses with this disease may easily startle and have noticeable head tremors. 

There is no treatment, and foals who show signs of cerebella abiotrophy are often kept as pasture pets as their coordination makes them dangerous to ride. 

4. Epilepsy

This abnormal behavioral motor activity shoots from the brain as a result of dysfunction with the frontal cortex. Seizures in horses often look the same as they do in humans, with stiffness and shaking. 

Partial seizures affect one part of the brain, and they usually last only seconds. Twitching in the limbs and face or running around in circles is common. 

A generalized seizure is the most common type seen and can last up to a minute. Horses will fall on their sides and often defecate or urinate.

5. Guttural Pouch Tympany

This is often seen in horses of Arabian bloodlines from birth up to one year of age. It seems to be more common in females. 

The guttural pouch becomes distended with air and swelling in the parotid region. Though it is thought to be painless, breathing can be challenging in horses who are severely affected. 

It can result from inflammation of the pharyngeal orifice of the eustachian tubes. Treatment is usually done with NSAIDS and antimicrobial therapy that helps ease upper respiratory tract inflammation.  

In some cases, surgery can be an option, and the prognosis is generally good. 

Where Do They Live?

Today, the Shagya Arabain is more often seen in Austria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, former Yugoslavian countries, and Hungary. However, the breed has been exported and bred to other nations around the world. 

The International Shagya Araber Gesellschaft was organized to keep the breed up to its clean standards.

Uses Today

She is recognized as a riding horse, but also one that can be driven in a harness. Because of her history as a cavalry horse, the breed is popular as a sport horse in dressage, endurance riding, and eventing. She can quickly clear jumps and wow judges with her good looks in the dressage ring. 

This breed is known for versatility and due to its bloodlines, hardiness and willingness. This makes her not only a perfect eventing horse but a wonderful family pet or pleasure horse. She also does wonderfully in trail riding. 


With her impressive Arabian heritage, the Shagya Arabian is becoming a natural choice for endurance riding and pleasure riding.

She is beautiful, sound, firm on her feet, and ready for any challenge. All of these traits have caused this impressive breed to grow in popularity throughout the world.

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