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8 Most Famous Arabian Horses in History

Arabian horses are one of the most recognizable breeds, thanks to their beautiful dished faces, elegant bodies and high tail carriage. Their iconic look has long made them a popular horse in film and among the rich and famous.

Eight of the most famous Arabian horses include Thunder, Flicka, Marwan Al Shaqab, Cass Ole, Godolphin, Darley, Byerly Turk, and Marengo. Each of these famous horses has shined in the spotlight. From movie stars to mascots and even trusty warhorses, they’ve all had their claim to fame.

Here are the most famous Arabian horses in history.

1. Marwan Al Shaqab

Marwan Al Shaqab, famous Arabian stallion

Marwan Al Shaqab is a bay Arabian stallion born in 2000 to breeder and owner Al Shaqab Stud. Many consider him to be the most famous Arabian horse in the world, as he is the most influential sire of his generation.

The striking bay stallion has won numerous world and national championships. Born in Qatar, Spanish breeder Marieta Salas of Ses Planes farm leased him as a colt. Then, in 2017 he moved to Houston, Texas, where he resides with trainer Michael Byatt.

Marwan Al Shaqab’s owners were once offered a whopping $20 million for the amazing stallion. However, they didn’t accept the offer as they consider him to be too valuable to sell. His stud fee is an incredible $20,000 and he sires around 50 foals a year.

2. Cass Ole

Cass Ole, black Arabian horse running along a beach in The Black Stallion movie

Cass Ole was the star of one of the most beloved horse movies, The Black Stallion. The beautiful black stallion was born on March 6, 1969, in Texas.

Before his career as a movie star, Cass Ole was a successful show horse. During the seven years he showed, he won over 50 championships and over 20 reserve championships.

Some of his biggest honors include being the National Champion in Arabian Western Pleasure in 1975 and Reserve National Champion Arabian Ladies Side Saddle in 1976. In addition, he was also Top Ten in Arabian English Pleasure in 1975 and 1976.

After his amazing show career, Cass Ole was chosen to be the star of The Black Stallion as well as The Black Stallion Returns. In order to fit the part, Cass Ole had white markings on his legs and head painted black.

After the release of the first movie, Cass Ole became a celebrity. He won the 1980 Humane Society Award for The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals at the International Horse Show in Washington, D.C. He even visited the White House and attended the Inauguration of President Reagan. Cass Ole also performed at many events across the world. He even stood at stud and sired 130 foals.

3. Godolphin Arabian

Godolphin Arabian horse

Born in 1724, Godolphin Arabian is famous for being one of three Arabian stallions to found the Thoroughbred breed. Foaled in Yemen, the bay stallion moved several times before arriving in England.

At an early age, he was given to King Louis XV of France as a gift. However, the king did not find him valuable so he put Godolphin to work as a carthorse. After not impressing royalty, he was imported to Longford Hall, Derbyshire.

In England, Godolphin was soon put to stud. Not only did his foals inherit his color and conformation, but they were also famous for their incredible speed. His offspring found much success on the racetrack, contributing to the foundation of the Thoroughbred breed.

4. Darley Arabian

Darley Arabian horse, one of the founders of the Thoroughbred horse breed

Darley Arabian was born in 1700 and was also one of three Arabians that founded the Thoroughbred breed. The bay stallion was bought by Thomas Darley in 1704 in Syria and was sent to Aldby Park, England as a gift to Darley’s brother.

In England, Darley stood at stud and his offspring were noted for being fast and talented. With beauty and refinement, he was the leading sire in Great Britain and Ireland in 1722. One of his most famous offspring, Flying Childers, was undefeated in his racing career.

During his life, he sired many successful racehorses. His son, Bulle Rock, was the first Thoroughbred to arrive in America. Today, nearly all Thoroughbreds trace back to Darley.

5. Byerly Turk

Byerly Turk, famous Arabian horse
Image by John Wootton

Born in 1680, Byerly Turk was the first of the three Arabians that founded the Thoroughbred breed. In 1688,  Captain Robert Byerley took the dark brown stallion from a Turkish officer in Hungry.

Byerly was then dispatched to Ireland, where Byerly Turk served as his warhorse. The stallion was later brought to England, where he stood at stud. He was a horse of elegance, courage and speed.

Byerly Turk’s offspring were fast like their father. Not only were his sons successful, but his daughters were also famous for their success.

6. Marengo

Marengo, famous white Arabian stallion owned by Napoleon

Marengo was Napoleon’s favorite steed and trusty companion. The gray Arabian gelding was small, but reliable and courageous in battle.

Imported from Egypt in 1799, Napoleon gave his beloved stallion the name Marengo after winning the Battle of Marengo. During his 15 years of service to his owner, Marengo was wounded eight times without throwing Napoleon off. He was fearless and obedient on the battlefield.

Napoleon and Marengo’s last battle together was the Battle of Waterloo. During this battle, William Petre captured Marengo. Petre brought the stallion back to England and sold him to Lieutenant-Colonel Angerstein. Marengo then stood at stud in New Barnes, England.

7. Thunder

Thunder, Arabian horse mascot for the Denver Broncos American football team
Photo by Jeffrey Beall

If you are a fan of the Denver Broncos football team, you’ve likely seen Thunder before. Thunder is a gray Arabian gelding that serves as the live mascot at home games for the Broncos.

Since 1993, three different Arabians have held the role of thunder. All three of them have been owned by Sharon Magness-Blake and since 1998 Ann Judge has trained and ridden them.

Thunder Sr., the original Thunder, was the mascot from 1993-2004. His registered name was JB Kobask and he was a show horse before joining the team. In addition to attending games, he also made many appearances in the community.

After retiring in 2004, Thunder II took over as the mascot. Registered as Winter Solstyce, the gray gelding was the team’s mascot until 2014. After Thunder II’s retirement, Me N Myshadow stepped up as Thunder III, the current mascot.  All of the Thunders have held the responsibility of charging the field after every Bronco touchdown at every home game.

Thunder Sr performed in Super Bowl XXXII and Super Bowl XXXIII. Thunder III made an appearance at Super Bowl XLVIII as well as Super Bowl 50. In addition, Thunder III also made appearances in Times Square and on TV morning news shows for pre-game promotion for Super Bowl XLVIII. In addition, Breyer made a model horse of the beloved Thunder.

8. Flicka

Chestnut Arabian horse from the TV series My Friend Flicka

In the classic horse TV series, My Friend Flicka, Flicka is played by a chestnut Arabian mare. Flicka, whose real name was Wahana, starred in all 39 episodes of the show from 1955-1956.

The show was special in many ways, as it was the first series ever filmed in color and also the first TV series produced by 20th Century Fox. The well-loved series featured a young boy named Ken and his adventures with his faithful horse named Flicka. Flicka is a Swedish name meaning “little girl.”

Wahana was born on June 13, 1950, in Newhall, California. The 15 hands tall mare had excellent bloodlines, as she was out of the renowned stallion Abu Farwa of Kellogg Arabian Ranch in Pomona, California.

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Comments 1

Comments

Deborah Kiefer

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Thank you for the article on the most famous Arabians. I am an avid fan of horses especially the Arabian breed. I have owned Arabians and enjoy learning about them I believe that no one can know everything about horses or Arabians, they are challenging and worth whatever blood, sweat and tears you put into them. Your article was fascinating and I learned some new things about this wonderful breed, Thank you again

Raine

Monday 21st of June 2021

I probably would have added Khemosabi in this list before Thunder.

Billie Paxton

Sunday 20th of June 2021

Marengo was Napoleon’s favorite steed and trusty companion. The gray Arabian GELDING was small, but reliable and courageous in battle.

William Petre captured Marengo. Petre brought the stallion back to England and sold him to Lieutenant-Colonel Angerstein. Marengo then STOOD AT STUD in New Barnes, England.

Dana

Thursday 6th of May 2021

How can Napoleon's horse be a gelding and be able to "stand" at stud ?

Carol Gilbert

Friday 30th of April 2021

Witez II, Polish Arabian stallion held by the Nazis during WW2. Came to America as part of the Army stud program and is considered an influential sire

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