|About the SHAGYA breed
|The Shagya Arabian is a special Arabian breed which is not very well known worldwide because
of its rarity. The breed was developed 150-200 years ago on the famous military stud farms of
the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. With its origins deriving from purebred desert Arabians, the
Shagya breed was consolidated many generations ago, so that it breeds consistently true to type.
The Shagyas combine the advantages of the Bedouin Arabian, (elegant type, great hardiness and
toughness, endurance, easy keeping qualities, and inborn friendliness toward humans), with the
requirements of a modern riding horse, i.e. sufficient height, big frame, and great "rideability",
including excellent movement and enormous jumping ability. If purebred Arabians are considered
of the horse world, Shagyas can be considered the "brilliants", cut and polished in order to fulfill
the demand for high quality riding and driving
horses in the modern world.
The Shagya breed can be said to have begun in 1789, when, as a result of an edict from the
Emperor, the Babolna stud was founded 36 miles west of Budapest. The conditions for
developing a superior breed were extremely favorable.
Not only was the stud farm endowed with gigantic pastures ideal for horse husbandry, it was
also managed by the Magyars, Hungary's talented
native horsemen, who had highly developed skills as horse breeders.
The foundation stallions of the Shagya breed were original desert Shagya-Arabians.
Shagyas are born riding and carriage horses bred
Arabians. They were bred with mares which showed a great deal of Arabian influence due to the
long Turkish occupation of Eastern Europe. English
Thoroughbreds and Lippizaners were also used occasionally in order to increase size and to
improve movement and riding qualities. Meticulous
records were kept of the breeding program in the studbooks. These venerable volumes contain not
only the pedigree, color, and measurements of all of the stallions and mares used, they also record
many other characteristics of the individuals and of their offsprings. The oldest mare line
recorded is that
of Moldvai, born in 1781. Another famous mare line is that of Tine, born in 1810. This mare is
from the Hanidani strain from the Nedsch region, famous source of desert bred Arabians.
From the basis of these mares and stallions, the breed was further developed by carefully
breeding back time and again only to desert bred and purebred Arabians, combined with rigorous
and selection. This long-term process can be traced in an unbroken line from the Shagyas of today
all the way back to the beginning of the breed. Many
Shagyas have pedigrees over 20 generations long. Only a few purebred Arabians in Europe can
show such long and complete pedigrees.
The major progenitors of the Shagya breed were purchased by experts who were sent from
Hungary on difficult and dangerous expeditions to the deserts of Arabia. Very high prices were
paid for these prized individuals. The most important stallion to mention is the dappled-grey
stallion Shagya, born in 1810. He was bred by the Bani Saher tribe of Bedouins, and came to
in 1836. He was such an outstanding producer that he appears in nearly all Shagya pedigrees.
He not only pressed his stamp on the breed, he also gave
it his name. Shagya was not only a "picture perfect" stallion; he also turned out to be extremely
prepotent. Other foundation stallions include the
original Arabians Gazlan-Gazal, Koheilan, Mersuch, Dahoman, Siglavy, Siglavy-Bagdady, the
black O'Bajan, and two stallions which came from the royal stud farm of Weil in Wurtenberg -
Amurath and Kemir. Kuhailan Haifi, Ktthaylan Zaid, and the Egyptian stallions Ibn Gaial
and Farag were used later and also have influenced the breed.
Shagya Arabians are taller, have a bigger frame, and possess better riding horse qualities than
purebred Arabians. This is the result of over 150 years of selection in order to create a horse
which is bigger, stronger, and more versatile than purebred Arabians for riding and driving.
Today's horse is considered obsolete as a war instrument, and instead must earn his keep as a
partner in horse sports. The Shagyas are therefore not obsolete because they have the qualities
necessary to be ideal for dressage, jumping, endurance, and hunting. They are also eminently
suitable to perform as pleasure horses for the enjoyment of the whole family. They are also
outstanding for carriage driving. During the
1930's Tibor von Petko-Szandtner, the former director of Babolna, thrilled audiences across
Europe with his five-in-hand team of Shagya carriage horses. Shagyas have also proven
themselves successful in open competitions
against warm bloods in dressage, jumping, and 3-day eventing.