For centuries the Bedouin treated their horses as members of the family. The foals were raised with their children, the mares sought shelter in their tents. Over time this became a genetic characteristic of the breed and one of its most endearing traits. Arabian horses bond strongly with their humans, and have a strong desire to please. They actively seek affection and return it in kind.
Natural selection in a harsh environment and Bedouin-controlled breeding perfected its characteristics. The Arabian horse became the ideal instrument of war: swift, responsive, agile and enduring, with courage, loyalty and the ability to withstand privation.
The need to maintain the breed in this form was confirmed by the Bedouin’s constant struggle for survival in the desert. They also believed that the Arabian horse was a gift to them from their God, to be cherished and protected as a member of the household. Therefore, for more than a thousand years, it was a matter of honor for the Bedouin, as well as a safeguard for their continued existence, to breed their horses pure as defined by their own strict standards.
The Bedouins created an oral system to identify each Arabian horse and their method was based on female lines of descent. This strain system is now over hundreds of years old, dating at least as far back as 1660.
While they did have an appreciation for the beauty of their horses their principal objective was to produce the swift, sturdy and tough horses that would keep them alive in the desert.