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Shagya Arabians

Shagya Arabians

The Shagya Arabian, which originated in South-Eastern Europe during the second half of the 18th century, is an Arabian breed in its own right. Developed at the famous military studs of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, the Shagya-Arabian was highly prized at the imperial court and regarded as one of the best breeds in the empire.

Its beauty, toughness, athletic ability, and endurance were legendary. Compared to purebred Arabians, Shagya-Arabians usually have more size and stronger bone. The origin of the breed is well documented: proven broodmares from the military stud farms were bred to imported Arabian stallions, in order to combine the advantages of Arabian blood with those of the European riding horse.

In long and dangerous missions, desert bred Arabian stallions were purchased, mostly from Syria. The foundation mares came from Modavia, Siebenbürgern and Uerainia.

With few exceptions, broodmares were not purchased, but bred from the existing basic stock by retaining the best daughters. Because of this, the dam lines can be traces very far back, in some cases as far as 1775.
 Of the large number of stallions used in developing the breed, only few managed to establish continuing sire lines: Siglavy, Amurath, Shagya, Dahoman, Gazlan-Gazal, Jussuf, Koheilan, O'bajan, Hadban, Kemir, Mersuch, Siglavy Bagdady, Kuhaylan Zaid, Kuhailan Haifi, and more recently El Shaa and Nedjari.

The offspring were always named after their sire, in ease of breeding stallions with a roman number added to the name. 

In 1978, the name "Shagya-Arabian! Was chosen, as the old name "Arabian" was bound to lead to confusion. The name is that of the foundation stallion Shagya DB, imported in 1836 to Bábolna.

This grey stallion, said to be of strong build and perfect proportions, proved to be the most influential foundation sire of the breed, appearing in virtually all pedigrees.

Today, only those horses are accepted as Shagya-Arabians that can be traced back to the studbooks of Radautz and Bábolna and conform to the breed standard.

The Shagya-Arabian as a proper, historic breed, developed through rigid selection for a specific purpose and was intended to regenerate itself out of itself, without any addition of outside blood.

However, from time to time some pure Arabian blood is introduced to counteract a certain loss of type and refinement.

To this day, all purebred sires used for the Shagya breed must be graded and performance tested.

In order to prevent a too high percentage of pure Arabian blood, the percentage has been limited as of 1987:
in the 4th generations, no more than 9 of the 16 ancestors may be purebred Arabians.


This is to ensure that the strength and bone of the Shagya-Arabian as a riding horse is preserved. The ideal Shagya-Arabian is a horse that combines all the qualities of the Arabian with a large frame, increased height, and stronger bone.

Shagya Arabians are better suited to carry bigger and taller riders than purebred Arabians, and they often show considerable ability for jumping and also for driving. 

The Shagya-Arabian should be beautiful and balanced, with an expressive face, a well-shaped neck, a good topline, a long croup with a well-carried tail, and strong, dry legs. Most importantly, he should move correctly in all three basic gaits.

The size varies between 15 and 16 hh, with no less than 7 inches of bone. The Shagya-Arabian has been bred to the same requirements for over two centuries and has more to offer than just an interesting pedigree. He is a noble, versatile horse both for the centire family and for rider with ambition.
Whether for show jumping, dressage, driving, hunting, Western or endurance riding - there is a Shagya for every purpose.

Many Shagya-Arabians can be found in the pedigrees of modern sports horses: Razes, whose son Radetzky founded an cenire dynasty of show jumpers and dressage horses, was out of a Shagya mare; Burnus, the founder of a long line of successful show jumpers and eventers, had a Shagya sire.

The legendary show jumper Milton also had Shagya blood. 

In recent years, the Shagya stallion Bajar has left his mark in many breeds, including the Trakehner and the Holteiner. Considering that there are only about 2.000 Shagya stallions and mares worldwide, their success in sports horse breeding is phenomenal.

Unfortunately, the Shagya breed has been on the decline in the countries of its origin.
Only few national state stud farms remain in Eastern Europe, and while they take their responsibility seriously, their resources are severely limited.
Thus the responsibility for the continuation of the breed rests just as heavily on the shoulders of each breeder.

In order to preserve this heritage of the Danube monarchy, breeders must work together towards a single goal, not only in one country, but worldwide.

The International Shagya Society (ISG) coordinates the work of the various national registries. 

There are Shagya-Arabian registries in Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Czech republic, Hungary, the USA and Venezuela, as well as the national stud farms of Bábolna (Hungary), Topolcianky (Slovakia), Radowce and Slatina (Romania), and Kabijuk (Bulgaria).

There are individual breeders in the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, and Ireland. 
For further informations please contact:

International Shagya Society (ISG)
Gestüt auf der Pfürch
DE - 91284 Neuhaus
phone: +49 (0) 9156 998990

Contact Person:
Mrs. Gabriele Conradty
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