Arabian Horse vs Thoroughbred: Ultimate Breed Comparison

Are you trying to choose between an Arabian horse and a Thoroughbred for your next equine companion? Look no further! In this ultimate breed comparison, we’ll explore the key differences between these two popular breeds: Arabian Horse vs Thoroughbred. From their origins to their physical characteristics and temperaments, we’ll cover all the factors that make this choice such a tough decision. So, let’s saddle up and dive into the world of these magnificent horses to help you make the right choice!

Overview of Arabian Horse and Thoroughbred

An Arabian Racehorse Running

Origins and History

The Arabian horse has a rich and storied history as one of the world’s oldest and most influential breeds. Bred for thousands of years on the Arabian Peninsula, these magnificent creatures were highly prized by the Bedouin tribes for their intelligence, stamina, and ability to withstand extreme heat. Their many desirable traits have made them a valuable contributor to the development of other light horse breeds, including the Thoroughbred.

Thoroughbred horses, on the other hand, are a relatively younger breed, tracing their roots back to the 17th and 18th centuries in England. These horses were developed through the crossbreeding of native English mares with imported, primarily Arabian stallions. Known for their speed and racing capabilities, Thoroughbred horses quickly gained popularity and have significantly shaped the global horse racing industry.

Physical Characteristics

Arabian horses are relatively compact and small, with a distinct dish-shaped facial profile, wide-set eyes, wide nostrils, marked withers, and a short back. These horses typically possess 23 vertebrae, rather than the usual 24 found in other breeds, contributing to their unique appearance and compact size (source). The elegance of their high tail carriage and arched neck further highlight their striking appearance. Arabian horses can be found in various colors, but are most common as white horses.

Thoroughbreds, in contrast, are taller and heavier than Arabians, making them bigger and faster as a result. Their facial structure is different, and they generally have sensitive, thinner skin compared to other breeds (source). Thoroughbreds are well-known for their athletic abilities and are commonly associated with horse racing and various equestrian sports.


Arabians are renowned for their intelligence, sensitivity, and strong connection with humans. Their personalities are generally eager-to-please, making them a versatile breed for various equestrian disciplines. As endurance athletes with great stamina, they can excel in the world of endurance riding.

Thoroughbreds are spirited horses, known for their speed and passion, making them the ideal choice for high-level competition in racing and other equestrian sports. These horses are also versatile and can be found participating in jumping, dressage, and eventing, showcasing their athleticism and adaptability. Both breeds bring their unique qualities to the equine world, offering exceptional opportunities for riders with different interests and goals.

Performance and Abilities

Thoroughbred horse jumping

Arabian Horse

Arabian horses are known for their incredible endurance and versatility in various equestrian disciplines. They have a compact, relatively small body, which makes them agile and adaptable to different terrains and sports such as racing, endurance riding, and show jumping(source). These horses are highly intelligent and well-tempered, making them great companions for people of all ages, including children(source).

When it comes to performance, Arabian horses excel primarily in endurance activities. They can efficiently use fat for energy during low-intensity exercise, leading to extended periods of exertion without showing signs of fatigue(source). Their ability to adapt to training helps them achieve longer durations at a working heart rate without difficulty(source).


Thoroughbred horses, on the other hand, are renowned for their speed and power in sprint racing. Larger than their Arabian counterparts, they are built for speed and excel in short, high-intensity races(source). Their long legs give them a longer stride, enabling them to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time compared to Arabians.

One key difference between Thoroughbreds and Arabians is that Thoroughbreds tend to show greater resistance to fatigue during sprint exercises. They can run for longer periods without tiring, making them ideal for high-stakes racing events(source). However, it is worth noting that although they demonstrate remarkable abilities in sprinting, they may not be as well-suited for endurance as the Arabian breed.

When considering the performance and abilities of both Arabian and Thoroughbred horses, it becomes apparent that they both have their unique strengths. Arabian horses are endurance specialists, while Thoroughbreds are unmatched in sprinting. As such, their suitability for various equestrian disciplines will depend on the specific requirements and preferences of the rider or owner.

Uses and Disciplines

Thoroughbred brown horse outdoors

Both Arabian horses and Thoroughbreds are popular breeds that excel in various equestrian sports and disciplines. In this section, we will discuss the uses and disciplines of each breed in detail.

Arabian Horse

Arabian horses are known for their versatility and ability to adapt to various disciplines. They possess remarkable endurance, agility, and intelligence, making them suitable for a wide range of activities. Some of the disciplines that Arabian horses excel in include:

  • Endurance racing: Due to their stamina and ability to cover vast distances, Arabian horses are often the top choice for endurance racing. Their success in long-distance competitions has been well-documented over the yearssource.
  • Show and pleasure riding: Arabians are known for their elegant movements and stunning appearance. They often compete in disciplines such as dressage, hunter/jumper classes, and western pleasuresource.

In addition to their success in equestrian sports, Arabian horses are also often used for recreational riding and as companion animals due to their gentle temperament and strong connections with humans.


Thoroughbreds are primarily known for their skills in racing and are considered one of the fastest horse breeds in the world. However, their talents extend beyond the racetrack. Some of the disciplines Thoroughbreds excel in include:

  • Racing: Thoroughbreds have a long history of success in flat racing, steeplechase, and hurdle racing. Their speed and athleticism make them formidable competitors on the tracksource.
  • Jumping: Thoroughbreds are also known for their ability to excel in show jumping and eventing disciplines. Their natural athleticism and powerful strides make them strong contenders in these sportssource.

Thoroughbreds, like Arabians, can also be used for recreational riding and various types of equestrian sports. Their talents and versatility make them an ideal choice for many disciplines, proving that these breeds are more than just their well-known racing abilities.

Health and Lifespan

Arabian Horse portrait Chestnut

When comparing Arabian horses and Thoroughbreds, it is important to consider their health and lifespan as key factors. Each breed has distinct characteristics that contribute to its overall wellbeing and longevity.

Arabian Horse

Arabian horses are known for their strength and resilience, which contributes to their relatively long lifespan. Generally, they live for 25 to 30 years, which is on par with the general horse population. However, there have been instances of Arabian horses living well into their 40s, which attests to their hardiness as a breed (Its Animal).

Several factors contribute to the healthy lifespan of an Arabian horse, including genetics, nutrition, and exercise workload. This breed is noted for its adaptability to different environments and a good temperament, allowing for successful training and performance in various equestrian disciplines (Horse Rookie).


Thoroughbreds, on the other hand, are typically known for their speed and agility. These athletic horses are taller and heavier compared to Arabians, which allows them to excel in racing and other high-intensity activities (Xtrapets).

The average lifespan of a Thoroughbred is around 25 years, which is similar to that of other horse breeds. Although their lifespans might not stretch into their 40s like some Arabians, this is still considered a healthy age range. Factors such as genetics, nutrition, and exercise workload contribute to their longevity (Differencess).

One important aspect to consider in the health of Thoroughbreds is their sensitive and thin skin, which makes them more prone to certain skin issues compared to other breeds (Xtrapets). Proper care, grooming, and attention to their overall health can help mitigate these issues and contribute to a longer and healthier life.

Breeding and Pedigree

When discussing the breeding and pedigree of horses, it is important to understand the distinctions between Arabian horses and Thoroughbreds. Both horse breeds come from a rich and storied history, with unique traits resulting from their respective pedigrees.

Arabian Horse

The Arabian horse, hailing from the Arabian Peninsula, is a breed steeped in history and prestige. Thanks to genetic studies, we now know that these horses possess a remarkable degree of genetic diversity, which has only added to their allure. With their stunning beauty, graceful movements, and impressive endurance, Arabian horses have become a popular choice for a wide range of equestrian activities.

When it comes to Arabian horse pedigrees, it is important to understand that the breed has contributed significantly to the development of other breeds. However, it should be noted that Arabian horses did not contribute genetically to the modern-day Thoroughbred as previously believed. Regardless, many equine enthusiasts closely study the pedigrees of Arabian horses to stay informed of the history and lineage of their animals.

Key attributes of Arabians in terms of size are generally smaller than Thoroughbreds. They usually stand between 56 and 64 inches in height (14 to 16 hands).


The Thoroughbred breed is well-known for its prominence in the racing industry. Developed in the 17th and 18th centuries in England, Thoroughbreds are a mixture of native British mares and imported Oriental stallions. Thoroughbreds are primarily bred for speed and agility, making them dominant in the world of horse racing.

Stud records in the United States began in 1868, and today, the US is considered the center of Thoroughbred racing and breeding, with approximately 55,000 foals being registered every year. Thoroughbred pedigrees are carefully documented and studied, as bloodlines are crucial in predicting potential racing abilities of future generations.

When comparing the size of Thoroughbreds to Arabian horses, Thoroughbreds are generally larger, making them more suitable for longer and faster races. Their unique combination of size, speed, and strength have made them the supreme choice for racing enthusiasts all over the world.

Ownership and Care

Beautiful Arabian stallion

Arabian Horse

Arabian horses are known for their friendly and people-oriented nature, making them suitable for families and easy to adapt to new environments (Xtrapets). The annual cost for Arabian horse ownership ranges from $1,770 to $12,930, in addition to the purchase price (Horses Only).

Horse owners must ensure that their beloved animals are well-cared for and healthy. This requires providing them with adequate housing, such as a spacious barn stall and access to large pastures for grazing. It’s also important to feed them on a regular schedule based on their body weight, and to make sure they always have access to clean water.

Daily exercise is a must, as is regular grooming of the coat, mane, and hooves. And, of course, regular visits to a qualified veterinarian are essential to keep your horse in top condition. These are just some of the many steps that responsible horse owners take to ensure the well-being of their equine companions.


Thoroughbreds are racing horses, and while they may not be as people-oriented as Arabian horses, they are popular for their speed and agility. Owning a Thoroughbred often comes at a higher cost due to their specialized requirements in training and care. Key aspects of Thoroughbred care include:

  • Appropriate housing with spacious stalls and daily turnout in a secure paddock
  • A balanced diet tailored to the horse’s individual needs
  • Structured exercise routines, especially for horses in training
  • Routine veterinary care, including periodic vaccinations and dental check-ups
  • Regular hoof trimming and shoeing by a skilled farrier
  • Close monitoring of the horse’s health and performance

Both Arabian and Thoroughbred horses require dedicated time, effort, and attention to ensure their well-being, and ultimately, their value as companion animals or performance athletes. Understanding the individual needs of these breeds is essential to keep them healthy, happy, and thriving.


In conclusion, Thoroughbreds and Arabian horses each possess unique traits that differentiate them in terms of physical appearance, endurance capabilities, and preferred disciplines. Thoroughbreds, originating from England, are known for their long legs, speed, and greater height and weight compared to Arabians (XtraPets). These horses are typically utilized for racing and high-intensity sports.

On the other hand, the Arabian horse, one of the world’s oldest breeds, is characterized by its beauty, elegance, and endurance (Nature). They have shorter legs in proportion to their bodies and longer heads and necks than Thoroughbreds (Differencess). Arabian horses are well-suited for endurance riding and specific racing disciplines where agility plays a major role.

When comparing their response to exercise, Thoroughbreds have been found to have higher running speed and VO2max (highest rate of oxygen consumable) than Arabians (KER). This further establishes their suitability for high-intensity events. However, it should be noted that each breed has its own advantages, and the choice between an Arabian and a Thoroughbred horse ultimately depends on the rider’s preferences, goals, and desired discipline.