Arabian Horse vs American Horse: In-Depth Comparison Guide

Are you trying to decide between an Arabian horse vs American horse? Look no further! In this in-depth comparison guide, we’ll explore the unique characteristics and traits of each breed to help you make an informed decision. From their history and origin to their physical attributes and temperament, we’ll cover it all. So, let’s dive into the world of Arabian Horse vs American Horse and discover which one is right for you.

Arabian Horse Characteristics

An Arabian horse running in grass

History and Origin

The Arabian horse is a remarkable breed with a rich history that can be traced back to the Arabian Peninsula. This ancient breed is known for its high tail carriage and distinct head shape, making it one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that these horses have been around for thousands of years, further establishing their historical significance.

Physical Features

Arabian horses are generally smaller in stature compared to other riding breeds, averaging around 15 hands (60 inches, or 152 cm) in height and weighing between 800 and 1,000 pounds (360 to 450 kg) according to Britannica. Their strong, muscular legs and fine hooves grant them great speed and stamina.

The breed’s unique head shape features a small, concave profile with protruding eyes and wide nostrils, as noted on WebMD. Their coat, tail, and mane consist of fine, silky hair, and although various coat colors are possible in the breed, gray is the most prevalent.

Temperament and Behavior

Arabian horses are highly valued not just for their striking appearance, but also for their pleasant and manageable temperament. They are known to be intelligent, responsive, and gentle, making them ideal companions for riders of all experience levels. Moreover, their innate curiosity and willingness to learn new things has given them a reputation for being versatile and adaptable in various equestrian disciplines.

These horses are highly social animals and develop strong bonds with their handlers and fellow equines, which is evident through their amicable disposition. It is worth noting that their sensitivity and perceptiveness require handlers to be patient and respectful when working with them, as forming a solid relationship based on trust is crucial in unlocking their full potential.

American Horse Characteristics

American Horses Running

History and Origin

The American Saddlebred, or American Saddle Horse, boasts a fascinating lineage that draws from an array of breeds, including the Arabian ,Thoroughbred, Pacers, Morgan, Standardbred and easy-riding horses of mixed heritage. This unique blend of characteristics has given rise to the American Saddlebred, which has become the preferred mount for leisure riding and a highly sought-after breed in horse shows throughout the United States.

Physical Features

American Saddlebred horses exhibit a unique combination of features, including a stylish appearance, vigor, and several easy-riding gaits. They can be either three-gaited or five-gaited. The three-gaited horses perform an animated walk, trot, and canter, displaying high knee action and an animated look. The five-gaited horses also perform these three gaits, with the addition of a slow gait and a rack [source].

Temperament and Behavior

American Saddlebred horses are known for their energetic and engaging presence, making them a popular choice for riding and show purposes. Their versatile nature allows them to excel in various disciplines, from dressage and jumping to driving and trail riding. Their temperament tends to be intelligent, social, and trainable [source].

Purpose and Usage

Both Arabian and American horses have distinct purposes and usages that distinguish them from each other. These difference can be attributed to various factors, including each breed’s inherent traits and respective historical development.

Arabian Horse Usage

Arabian horses are known for their speed, stamina, beauty, intelligence, and gentleness (Britannica). Initially bred as war horses in the Arabian Peninsula, these versatile horses have since been used for various purposes, including endurance racing, polo, dressage, western cutting, and trail riding (Horse Racing Sense).

Arabian horses have also been influential in improving other light horse breeds. Their distinctive qualities have contributed to the development of breeds such as the Thoroughbred, Percheron, and Orloff Trotter (

American Horse Usage

American horses generally refer to breeds that have been developed in the United States. Two prominent examples include the American Quarter Horse and the American Saddlebred.

The American Quarter Horse is known for its speed over short distances, particularly in quarter-mile races, giving the breed its name. Quarter Horses are versatile and are used for various activities like racing, rodeo events, western pleasure, and ranch work (American Quarter Horse Association). The American Quarter Horse is also popular in cutting competitions, where their agility and cow sense are greatly valued.

The American Saddlebred, on the other hand, is famous for its stylish and high-stepping gaits. This breed is often used in show rings, particularly in saddle seat competitions, as well as in pleasure riding and driving events. Saddlebreds are known for their elegant appearance and graceful movements, making them a popular choice in various equestrian disciplines (American Saddlebred Horse Association).

Both Arabian and American horses serve different roles in the equestrian world due to their unique traits and capabilities. However, it is pertinent to note that each breed’s distinctive attributes also make them suited for specific tasks and disciplines.

Health and Lifespan

A group of American wild mustang horses

Arabian Horse Health

Arabian horses are known for their strength, agility, and stamina. These features contribute to their excellent overall health. They are typically a compact breed, with an average height of 15 hands (60 inches) and a weight range between 800 and 1,000 pounds. This compact size is due to having only 23 vertebrae, whereas most other breeds have 24.

One of the factors that contribute to the health of Arabian horses is their strong, muscular legs, which provide them with great speed and stamina. Furthermore, their long history of breeding in the harsh Arabian environment has led to the development of natural resistance to certain diseases.

American Horse Health

American horses, specifically the American Quarter Horse, are another breed recognized for their overall health. They are known for their versatility, speed, and ability to excel in various disciplines. The average height of an American Quarter Horse ranges from 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches), and they typically weigh between 800 and 1,000 pounds.

These horses are bred for strength and muscular development, making them capable of performing various tasks with ease. This selective breeding has contributed to their overall health by producing robustly built horses with strong bones and a high tolerance for physical activity.

One significant factor affecting the health of American horses is proper dental health, nutrition, and physical activity, as these can greatly influence their lifespan.


The average lifespan of an Arabian horse is around 25 years; however, some individuals have been known to live up to 35 years or more. On the other hand, the lifespan of American horses can vary depending on factors such as breed, size, and overall health. A study shows that smaller breeds of horses, like the miniature horse, can outlive their larger counterparts due to factors like dwarfism, which can protect against cancer and diabetes.

Breeding and Genetics

American wild mustang horses

Understanding the breeding and genetics of Arabian horses and American horses can help provide insights into their respective characteristics, strengths, and histories.

Arabian Horse Breeding

Arabian horses hail from the Arabian Peninsula, and they are known for their distinctive features such as a dished face, large nostrils, and a high, arched tail carriage. A genetic study involving Arabian horses from 12 countries found that some populations maintained a larger degree of genetic diversity, which can be beneficial for the breed’s health and longevity. Contrary to popular belief, the Arabian breed did not contribute genetically to the modern-day Thoroughbred [source].

Historically, the Arabian breed has been influenced by several different cultures that valued an athletic and versatile horse. According to a study, the Arabian breed is generally “genetically healthy”, with significant diversity in its genes. This diversity can be found both in the Middle East and abroad, and it could have developed due to different breeding goals and practices in various regions.

American Horse Breeding

American horses, such as the American Quarter Horse and the American Thoroughbred, have diverse genetic backgrounds, including influences from European and North American breeds. Most modern horses can trace their ancestry back to two major lineages: Arabian horses from the Arabian Peninsula and the now-extinct Turkoman horses from the Eurasian Steppe [source].

The American Quarter Horse, known for its agility, is the most popular breed in the United States. This breed is often used for western riding disciplines, racing, and various equestrian sports. The American Thoroughbred, on the other hand, is a popular breed for racing and sport horse disciplines. The breeding of American horses typically focuses on specific traits and characteristics, depending on the intended use of the horse in various sports and disciplines.

Comparative Analysis

American white Horse at a Stable

In this section, we delve into a comparative analysis of Arabian horses and American horses. The two breeds have distinctive characteristics that make them suitable for specific purposes and appeal to various preferences in horse ownership and equine sports.

Pros and Cons of Arabian Horses

Arabian horses are known for their elegance, grace, and endurance. Their compact build, featuring flaring nostrils, prominent withers, a short back, wide eyes, and chiseled eyes, contribute to their agility and versatility in various disciplines such as endurance riding, dressage, and show jumping (Animal Queries). Typically standing between 14.2 and 15 hands tall, they possess strong legs and fine hooves, which support their endurance capabilities (International Museum of the Horse).

However, Arabian horses have a more sensitive and hotter temperament compared to American horses. Their intelligent handling is crucial to prevent misunderstandings, as their reactions might be misinterpreted as learning difficulties (Horse & Rider). Despite their impressive athleticism, their smaller size might not make them an ideal choice for heavyweight riders or certain tasks that require more substantial equine body frames.

Pros and Cons of American Horses

American horses, such as the Quarter Horse, are known for their muscular and sturdy build, making them suitable for various purposes, ranging from ranch work to equine sports like reining and cutting. They have a calm and easy-going temperament, which makes them an excellent choice for beginners and professional riders alike (Horse & Rider).

However, their physique might not support the same level of stamina and endurance as Arabian horses. Their larger size and more substantial muscle mass can lead to increased body heat, making them less suitable for long-distance endurance riding. Additionally, their temperament might not be as exciting or challenging for riders who prefer spirited or responsive horses.

In conclusion, both Arabian and American horses have their unique traits that make them suitable for different purposes and preferences. It is essential to understand their characteristics and capabilities to make the most informed decision when it comes to choosing the right horse for your specific needs.


In conclusion, the comparison between Arabian and American horses provides valuable insights into the characteristics, strengths, and abilities of each breed. Though both breeds possess unique qualities, the Arabian horse is known for its speed, stamina, beauty, intelligence, and gentleness, while the American Quarter Horse is distinguished by its muscular build, versatility, and gentle nature.

Both horse breeds have rich histories, with the Arabian horse’s origins traced back to the 7th century Arabia and the American Quarter Horse to the 17th century in colonial America. These histories have shaped their respective breeds, contributing to their unique features and strengths. Arabian horses have had a significant impact on the development of other light horse breeds, while the American Quarter Horse has excelled in activities such as racing, rodeo events, and working cow horse events.

When discussing size, the American Quarter horse tends to be slightly larger than the Arabian horse. In terms of physical features, the Arabian horse is distinct with its refined, wedge-shaped head and arched neck, while the American Quarter Horse boasts a small, short, and refined head with a straight profile. Although Arabians may take a bit longer to train in disciplines like reining, their intelligence and sensitivity make them excellent partners for equestrian activities as well.

Ultimately, the choice between an Arabian horse and an American horse largely depends on the desired activities and personal preferences of the rider. Each breed offers its own set of strengths and characteristics, which makes them exceptional companions in various equestrian disciplines. Undoubtedly, both breeds hold great value in the equestrian world and have earned the admiration of horse enthusiasts across the globe.