The homeland of the Arabian horse covers a vast region in Southwest Asia following the migrations of the Bedouin tribes. The core of this region is the Arabian Peninsula (known as Arabia) and the surrounding area to the North including the Syrian and Iraqi deserts. The complete homeland stretches further North to encompass the area surrounding the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers known as Mesopotamia.
This region is bound to the West by the Red Sea, Naqab desert, Sinai and Salhia desert in Egypt, to the Northwest and North by the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and Taurus mountains, to the East by the Arabian Gulf, and Northeast by the mountain chains of Zagros including the Northeastern coast of the Arabian Gulf.
Considering the migrations of the Bedouins beyond Arabia, and the presence of other nations and cultures in the immediate surroundings of Arabia, the true boundaries of the Arabian Horse homeland are more cultural than territorial.
Arab Bedouins sought atiq horses at trusted Bedouin studs (marabat) and identified them with a rasan-marbat name. Rasan and marbat encapsulate the Bedouin traditions around the breed and establish the asil identity for any individual horse. Losing the rasan means complete loss of identity. Losing the marbat poses a significant risk to the asil standing. When an asil horse is mated to a non Arabian horse, the product of such a cross loses its rasan-marbat identity. It is a hajin horse.
Hujna means a definite sign of crossbreeding to non-Arabian blood. Hujna signs can be morphological, genealogical or genetic.
To authenticate a horse as asil, there are two conditions:
A. It must have direct and/or indirect contextual evidence about the Arab Bedouin origin of all its ancestors that can be reasonably assumed valid.
B. It must be free of hujna, meaning the absence of any definite (unspeculative) proof of hujna.
Evidence must be objectively evaluated using the definition above subject to the information available concerning horse origin, breeding and acquisition. A variety of evidence types and research methods can be used in the evaluation process.
There are two categories of objective evidence that determine asil standing:
Evidence of Arab Bedouin origin is heuristic and provisional, which builds credibility rather than provides ultimate proof. Evidence of origin works in parallel with the previous category of evidence. Information which supports origin remains valid subject to counter evidence provided. Evidence of origin is based on three fields of research:
Establishes the genealogical connection of all ancestors of a certain horse to the breeding of the Arab Bedouin tribes as per the definition. Historical evidence may include but is not limited to: studbooks, pre-studbook records or documents, breeding records, testimony, and contextual research.
Establishes the credibility of a breeder/source of a certain horse and its eligibility as a Bedouin breeder or a trusted broker of an eligible Bedouin breeder.
Establishes linages through maternal or paternal lines, or shows no contradiction with the assumed origin. This is an area subject to continuous research and scientific advances.
Definitive and unspeculative evidence that can be any or all of the following:
Represented in the existence of proven non-asil blood at any level in the horse's extended pedigree.
Morphology has always been used by the Arabs to exclude individual horses with clear signs of hujna such as certain coat colors or skeletal structures. Efforts shall be taken to build guidelines for definite morphological signs of hujna.
Modern studies on the Arabian horse genome may be able to indicate definitive marks of non Arabian blood. This is an area subject to continuous research and scientific advances.
Information that is incomplete or conflicting poses a certainty risk that does not necessarily lead to revoking an asil determination. A horse that is definitively known as not asil is not to be confused with a horse with incomplete information that can still be reasonably assumed asil. Research can lead to levels of certainty within the asil population, that are up to the community to decide how to deal with. Complete lack of information about Arab Bedouin origin does not permit authentication as asil.
The authentication of a horse as asil must be maintained and can be lost based on the discovery of new information, or scientific research that reveals previously hidden hujna. Standing as asil is not to be taken for granted and is subject to a continuous quest to maintain the authenticity of the breed.
The asil quality is inherited from both parents together, and cannot be revoked while both parents are still assumed asil. Losing the asil status of a horse previously assumed asil is based on violating any of the two asil conditions above by a new evidence that definitively proves hujna, and/or de-validates previous information leaving no attestation to reasonably assume Arab Bedouin origin.
Determining the asil status of modern horses is a research effort, not a legal judgment. It represents the conviction of a certain research body, certification organization, or registration authority to adhere to the definition above. Research methods should be well-defined and transparent. Authentication organizations can only provisionally declare their stand toward the asil status of a certain horse, rather than establish a historical fact.