Hungary's oldest stud farm, Mezohegyes, was founded in 1785, and in 1789 the stud at Babolna was established. Hungary is famous for its superb Arabian horses and Babolna became the center for their breeding.
After 1816, the Babolna stud concentrated on the production of purebred Arabiansand part-breds, which were called Arabian Race. Arabian Race were the progeny of purebred stallions crossed with mares of very oriental appearance that carried strains of Spanish, Hungarian and Thoroughbred blood. This last policy produced the Shagya Arabian, which is now bred throughout Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Hungary.
The race was founded on the Arabian stallion, Shagya, a horse of the Kehil/Siglavi strain, born in Syria in 1830 and imprted to Babolna in 1836. He was a cream-colored horse and big for an Arabian, 15.2 1/2hh. He was the sire of many successful stallions and his direct descendants are at Babolna and at studs throughout Europe.
The Shagya typifies the Arabian horse in every respect but possibly displays more bone and substance than the modern "straight" Egyptian type. It is a practical horse used for every sort of purpose under saddle and in harness.
The Shagya Arabian usually stands 15hh. The foundation stallion, Shagya, was noted for the beauty of his head and his descendants inherit his great quality. The profile is pronouncedly dished, the muzzle tapered and small and the skin especially fine, while the very large eyes dominate the head. Bred as a saddle horse, the Shagya has the necessary oblique shoulder that contributes to the freedom of movement and the length of the stride. If anything, the withers are more prominent than in many Arabian strains. The outline of this breed is identical to that of the purebred Arabian and is quite unmistakable. In general, however, the Shagya is bigger and more substantially framed. Like purebred Arabians, the Shagya has 17 ribs, 5 lumbar bones and 16 tail vertabrae in comparison with the 18-6-18 formation of other horses. This largely accounts for the high-set carriage of the tail and the distinctive line of the back. In this breed the measurement of bone taken around the cannon below the knee will rarely be less than 7 1/2". The Arabian horse has got a larely undeserved reputation for having poor hind legs. Little criticism can be made of the Shagya Arabian in this respect as the breed's hind limbs are notably correct. Shagya hooves should be, and usually are, near perfect in both size and shape. The predominant color is gray, but all Arabian colors can occur. The action of the Shagya, like that of all Arabians, is unique. Free and elastic, as though moving on springs.
Reference: The Ultimate Horse Book; Elwyn Hartley Edwards; 1991
N. American Shagya Arabian Society
The Shagya Arabian Horse
Reference photo courtesy of N. American Shagya Arabian Society