THE ARABIAN HORSE - A GIFT OF GOD
The Bedouin 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.
The Role of the Horse in Bedouin Society
Bedouin society was based on the principle of solidarity with strong family structures and coming from this the tribal structures. And it was characterized by an extraordinary relation between man and beast. Bedouins defined themselves by the camel. Desert life was unthinkable without the dromedary, even impossible. Science speaks of man being the parasite of the camel. The relationship towards the horse was quite different. It was a symbiotic relation. Horses could only survive in the desert with the help of man and his dromedary of which milk it was nursed in bad times. The horse meant a heavy burden for the Bedouin. But it was at the same time indispensable for combats and raids. The camel was the most important animal of the Bedouin, but the animal dearest to him was his horse. Thus a relation was formed between Bedouin and horse – and we should not forget the role of women and children in it – that was coined by a mutual love. The stress is on mutual. For me, the love towards humans of the Arabian horse and his unique character are one of its most important breed characteristics and the decisive reason why it could conquer the hearts of so many people around the globe. Thus the Arabian horse became an ambassador for the Arabian world around the globe. The common love towards this breed has already insinuated countless friendships across all political, religious and ethnical boundaries.
The war horse was at the same time 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, as we have already seen, 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.
This gift of God, the Arabian horse, we can preserve by knowing and understanding the valuable heritage that has been handed over to us. This heritage by far transcends the Arabian horse and it plays a key role for identity of the descendants of the Bedouin in modern world. They can be proud of the fact that their ancestors have created a horse breed that has nothing comparable around the world, and that its extraordinary character is a mirror of the values of their past.
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. The picture the holy book of the bible paints is a reflection of the Bedouin past, of a warrior and his horse, making war by the power of his word like the poets:
“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
The Arabian horse will become a gift of God to mankind, as it will bring back Jesus of Nazareth, the WORD OF GOD, in the spiritual likeness of Ismael, a heroic rider making war by the power of his words.
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