Among hundreds of horse breeds there are only three eligible for being called pure-blooded or "hot"- the Akhal-Teke, the Arabian and the Thoroughbred. I happened to have seen the best of the Akhal-Tekes and the Thoroughbreds unlike a long-postponed meeting with the Arabians.

Dubai International Horse Fair.
One Million Dollars Babies

Suppose many of you have seen not well-bred Arabian horses in touristic areas of Egypt and Jordan. Such horses are written about: "Neither for farmers nor for Gipsy." These horses are both too graceful for heavy wagons and not well-bred enough to grace the stalls of stud farm owners but enough for tourists. It sounds cynically but it is the fact of life.

Not well-breds are often used for livery. Half -Arabians in particular: small, easy to deal with (though there are angry ones as well), surprisingly strong with apparent beauty and grace inherited from their well-bred grand-parents. Tourists are delighted and wish to have "that one". As for me, I have always wanted to see the original looking at the cow-eyed half- breds.

Having moved to Dubai I expected to see an Arabian flying across the bay. Actually they are Emirates, the Arabian Peninsula.... Nope. Having stayed for a year I have not seen a single one.

All private stalls and horse sport centers are located away from Dubai tourist center, somewhere in the suburbs. There are horse rental stores but they are far to get and well-breds are seldom kept there.

And the opportunity was not long in coming. In the very center of the city Dubai International Horse Fair  was taking place under His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the brother of Emir of Dubai, patronage ( both brothers have a rage for horses by the way).

Two day of the Fair have already passed. They were Spanish horses’ days. There was the third day left devoted to the Arabians only. 

The agenda involved a horse auction, a championship and the best breed representatives’ award.

It was impossible to miss a chance like that.

The fair took place in Dubai World Trade Centre - in the very center of the city. Having registered myself and got my ticket I found a place near the indoor arena. The bidding had been in process. A horse of black coat color was gracefully going at a trot in front of the audience.

"Royal colours!" – the master of ceremonies was explaining with meaning. Here and there were auction paddles rising, the price was going up. At that moment another colt, "made by the south wind", appeared on the show ring, then another one and one more…

Having feasted my eyes on the horses I shifted my gaze to the public. Almost all of them are male Arabs wearing long white jellabiyas as usual. On my right and left sides there were two groups of horse owners from Saudi Arabia.

"People in white" have come not just to stare like I have but to purchase some colts. Seeing me being delighted my neighbours told me calmly “Buy it!” I gave them a smile and answered using an Arabian proverb that it would happen but not now, stalls first.

That time new horses appeared on the show ring. Slim figurines, graceful with perfect gait. The Arabians have an amazing trot – sprightly and very light as if they remained in limbo for a second. They seem not to frisk but to float above the Earth. Amazing!

I am not a regular for auctions but I know for sure over gesticulation is inappropriate here.

The master of ceremonies may read your enthusiastically finger up as plus 10 thousand dirhams to the current amount. Considering some horses had been sold for millions of dirhams you can find yourself in an awkward situation.

Anyway my horse-owner neighbors and me have gesticulated a little (within reasonable) discussing a well-bred face of the horse we liked. "Look, what a face!" -I exclaimed. "Yes, it's good. But the horse itself is not big enough", - my talk partner brought me down. There was no point in arguing and I stopped in the middle of the sentence.

I was explained all horses had been carefully prepared for the show. They are washes with special shampoos and gels. Manes and tails are carefully combed, hooves are spit-polished. Faces, smellers and eyes are covered with vaseline to emphasize high-bred features.

A one-million-dollar horse- what is it like? "Harsh like a flame, wonderful like a mirage".

The Arabians are miniature and punch (148-160 cm height at crest) and round-shaped.

But let's get back to the auction and two groups of Saudi horse-owners. By the end of the auction they gave me a sign: "Let's move to another room. The most interesting thing is going on there." There was a talk of the best breed representatives awarding.

I caught the rewarding of the Arabians elder then 3 years old. Beautiful, well-built, groomed. And all of them of a light-grey coat colour. Do Arabian gentlemen prefer blondes?  

As appeared to be grey Arabians are mostly large in number. Very often they turn gray early, getting white. With aging al lot of them get small colour spots - brown-spotted they are called.

Chestnut (including brown) and bay prevail among other color types. Black color and black-brown are rare. There are no other color types in the breed.

The idea is that brown bay horses are the most reliable ones. Grey and white are affectionate and delicate, brown are not strong enough and black ones are ill-natured and spirited. Everything's relative. Anyway Arabs have a proverb about it:

"Never buy a red horse, sell a black one, take care of a white one and ride a chestnut".

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But there is another proverb: "Good horses are never of a bad coat color".

"In the world there is nothing more beautiful than a frisking horse, a dancing woman and a ship under sail".

Arabian proverb

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