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The Science of Arabian Horses [Slide Show]

At the Al Shaqab facilities in Doha, Qatar, breeding and showing prized Arabian horses is a science unto itself

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On the front of each stall is an information plate with the horse's name and progenitors. This mare, like most horses at Al Shaqab, will never bear a human rider.* That's not to say there is no riding.....[ More ]

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The lab at Al Shaqab. A silver nitrogen tank is at right, for freezing stallion semen. Eight days after a mare is impregnated with a sample, the embryo is collected. It is then implanted into a host mare, which will bear and nurse the foal at the end of the gestation period 11 months later.....[ More ]

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Semen is collected from stallions in this area; fertile mares are often present for "inspiration." After analysis and separation in the lab, each ejaculate yields seven individual samples, which are frozen in nitrogen until needed.....[ More ]

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This year, 55 foals were born at Al Shaqab. Technicians use embryo transfer for each one. Standard breeding and bearing is too risky for horses worth $100 million apiece. As a result, the foals, like the one at left, look quite different from the unrelated host brood mares, such as the one at right.....[ More ]

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The heads of Arabians have a characteristic seahorse-like dish shape, and they appear readily over the stable wall for a patting or a carrot. The Al Shaqab stables are spotless and nearly odor- and dust-free.....[ More ]

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After a good workout, horses, like human athletes, hit the showers. At the far right is a heat lamp to help dry off those tired muscles before an outside walk back to the cooled stables.....[ More ]

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Show Arabians need to have strong muscles and endurance. This lap pool helps with both. Observers can watch the horses from above (view shown) as well as from below, through underwater windows.....[ More ]

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Beside the walking track is a treadmill for the horses. The entire facility is air-conditioned. In the summer, temperatures outdoors can reach (and did reach, while I was there) 116 degrees Fahrenheit.....[ More ]

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Several horses can train at once on an indoor track that features engineered "dirt" made with wax. It feels soft and slightly slippery to the touch but clumps like real earth. The engineered dirt eliminates dust—a huge problem in dry areas such as Doha—and will be used at the 2012 Olympics in London.....[ More ]

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A view of the manicured greenery outside of the Al Shaqab buildings. The entire complex nests within and around a horseshoe-shape design. It includes an equine exercise area, stables, a breeding center and veterinary facilities.....[ More ]

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