The Bedouins of Arabia regarded their horses as a gift of God to them. In his fourteenth century manuscript, El Andalusi reports of the Arab tradition that Ismail was the first to tame and ride a horse: When God gave the power and strength to Ibrahim and Ismail to elevate the columns of the house (referring to the Kaaba in Mecca), He said: „I am giving you a treasure which I have saved for you.“ Then God revealed that Ismail should go out and call for it. Ismail went to a nearby place, Ajyad. He knew neither the treasure nor the call, but God inspired him with the call. There was no horse left on the face of the land of the Arabs that did not respond to him and let him subdue them.
Badu society was built upon the dromedary, the most important animal of the Arabian peninsula, to such a degree, that the historic relation of men and camel over more than 3000 years can be described as a parasitic one. The dearest animal to the Bedouins, on the other hand, was the horse. The relation to the horse was a symbiotic one, a relation characterized by a mutual love. It was a heavy burden to keep horses in the desert - and it was only possible with the help of the camel, but it was overwhelmingly rewarded by the usefulness of the horse in combat and raids. The war horse, at the same time, was a family horse that was allowed to enter the black houses of hair. The closest possible relation of men and horse was established. A fact reflected by the unique man-loving character of the Arabian breed and by the role the horse played in badu poetry.
The Power of Poetry
The prominence of the voice in the desert, the spoken word expressed itself in many ways. The Arab language is said to have been developed in the close contact to the camel as center of badu life. The little songs that guided the herds out to pasture and back, and also the marching songs were the starting point of Arab poetry. The words of the poets formed the society. These words were intertribal and transcended the Bedouin world and were later adopted for the holy book of Islam.
The words of the poets shaped an ideal, the poet himself, and to be more precise: the heroic poet-warrior-rider in one person. This was the idol of Bedouin society. And in contrast to other societies which developed a similar ideal, every male member could reach there, even slaves (most prominent example Antara Ibn Shaddad).
From War Horse to Show Horse
During the last two centuries the Arabian horse has made a triumphant advance around the world and has found new homes on all continents . The love for this horse has established friendships reaching across political and religious frontiers. At the same time a far reaching change happened. The Arabian horse was separated from its master and became a refugee, although a glorious one (Paraskevas).
Today´s show scene is worlds apart from the Bedouin world and horse of the past. Competition is mostly delegated to trainers from the west. It is no more by the human voice that the Arabian horse is mastered. But by an iron chain with which the head is maneuvered into the air to hold it up in an artificial way, and by a whip.
The time is long overdue for a change. There are different and better ways to present Arabian horses in the public. In handling horses, let us return to the power of the word that was of such great importance for badu society in the past. Also, bring together the horse and its “family”, men, camel, saluqi, falcon, also sheep and goat and present them all in a “Bedouin historical show”. Hopefully the lovers and breeders of the Bedouin horse in Arabia will soon find their own ways to show their rich heritage.
The Future of the Arabian Horse
The future of the Arabian breed is closely linked to the most important event to take place: God has chosen the Arabian horse to be the mount of his Messiah, al masih, when he will come from heaven with his army of riders to bring peace.
(See also the last chapter of the book BEDOUIN HERITAGE.)
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a rope dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses. From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, …. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords."
Revelation of John 19, 11-16