The Shagya-Arabian Horse
Shagya-Arabian combines the advantages of the Desert
Arabian (elegant type, great hardiness and toughness,
endurance, easy keeping, and inborn friendliness toward
humans) with the requirements of the modern riding
horse. These requirements are sufficient height, big
frame, and great rideability including great movement
and jumping ability.
Shagyas are typically 15 to 16 hands in height, with a
minimum of 7 inches of bone at the cannon. Grey is the
most common color, although there are also bay, chestnut
and black Shagyas. Limbs are well-formed and dry.
History of the
Shagya-Arabian Horse was developed in the
Austro-Hungarian Empire over 200 years ago. The breed
originated from the need for a horse with the endurance,
intelligence and character of an Arabian but with larger
size and carrying capacity required by the Imperial
Hussars. Over time, Shagyas were utilized both as
carriage and light riding horses. The registry of the
breed is the oldest next to the registry of the English
The Shagya breed was originally developed at the
Imperial Stud at Babolna, Hungary. Failed experiments
with Spanish and Thoroughbred blood eventually led the
breeders at Babolna to a cross of native Hungarian mares
with stallions of pure Desert Arabian blood. Shagya
bloodlines were also developed at the stud farms at
Radautz (Hungary), Topolcianky (Czechoslovakia),
Mangalia (Rumania), and Kabijuk (Bulgaria).
takes its name from the dapple-grey stallion Shagya,
born in 1810. The Bani Saher tribe of Bedouins, who
lived in what is now Syria, bred Shagya and sold him to
agents of the Habsburg monarchy. In 1836, he became the
breeding stallion at Babolna. Shagya was prepotent and
appears in almost all Shagya pedigrees.
One of the purposes of the Shagya breed has always been
as improvers of other breeds. Shagya stallions appear in
the bloodlines of many warmblood breeds. The Shagya mare
"Jordi" is the dam of the great warmblood stallion "Ramzes."
"Ramzes" descendant "Rembrandt" won the 1988 Olympic
Gold Medal for dressage.
Shagyas not only served as cavalry horses, they were
also prized as parade horses by European royalty. The
Imperial Guard of the Habsburgs was always mounted on
Shagyas. Every royal officer regarded it as a privilege
to be able to ride a Shagya. The toughness, courage,
endurance and rideability of these horses was legendary
among European horsemen. The motto of the Hungarian
breeders was "Nothing but the best is good enough."
The Shagya-Arabian in America
Shagya breeding in America officially began in 1986. The
American foundation stallion was Hungarian Bravo, whose
parents *Pilot (born at the Janow-Podlaski Stud in
Poland in 1939) and *52 Gazall II (born at the Balbona
State Stud in Hungary in 1937) were brought to America
in 1947 under the direction of General Patton as prizes
of war. Bravo began his purebred Shagya breeding career
when he was 24 years old. He produced 3 sons and 11
daughters which are being used in Shagya breeding today.
One of his sons is in Venezuela where he is helping to
found Shagya breeding in South America.