Aravania

Aravania is the name for the Greek species of single-footing horses. Before their replacement by machines, they were widely used in agriculture and cattle-breeding.

Greek provinces have lived with them for centuries. Not only were they used for transportations with carts, but also performing rural activities such as ploughing, and hoeing. They were also used to carry shepherds and their supplies on their back, mainly by the use of saddles. Considered as a great ally for shepherds, by transporting them during free-pasturing of sheep and goats and other mammals; still they are used for wood transport in highland forests.

In some areas of the country, Aravania have long received the well deserving high status. Their value is greatly appreciated in both work as well as their good character and cleverness. Counted as very proud horses making their owners The were a credit to their owners who took pride in riding them. They were present not only at work but also in feasts and celebrations. Their owners devised ways to take the opportunity and bring them to the fore.

Nowadays that Aravania are not used as a working aid, but more as pleasure they fall into categories such as, long-distance horses, family horses, pulling horses and horse riding tourism.

The lineage

Around 1000B.C the Dorians during their descent, they brought their horses from steppes. At their transit from Thessaly they took a great number, from the systematically grown horses of Thessaly which ended up in Southern Peloponnesus and a couple of Islands. Their horses mated with the horses of Thessaly. Hence, the ancestors of Aravania came to life.

The evolution of these horses were influenced also by the Persian horses, which appeared in Greece from the Persian wars and on.

When the kingdom of Macedonians reached its prime and during the Alexandrian years, the Egyptian Arabic horses and the ones from Thessaly, which had still been bred, reinforce with their blood the horses of the Dorians.

Olympia in Peloponnesus, besides its games, is also getting known as one of the biggest horse-market in ancient times.

Under the Roman Empire, their horses mix with the Greek horses and exchange bloods. Throughout the Turkish dominion in the Greek grounds, another great mix of bloods takes place between Turkish horses who possess potential Arabic bloods. Even after the establishment of the Greek nation, stallions from the Turkish army were officially offered for reproduction. The wars that followed necessitated humane help, which provided horses from Northern countries. Consequently, Aravania were reduced in number and were restricted to highland areas. The agricultural automation from 1960 on, ceased Aravania from being a valuable companion of farmers and cattlemen. Their number dramatically reduced, while many of them sadly ended up in Italian abattoirs.

Aravania are only a few in Greece, where additionally no lineage book is kept to record them in. The remaining are in danger even from the ignorance of their changing owners who reproduce them with other breeds. Doing so, results in Aravania’s loss of morphological traits and properties.

Population

It is estimated round 300-400 in Greece. In Germany there are about 60. Some have been located in Austria. The number of Aravania is tragically reduced due to lack of essential tactic for their preservation.

Morphological characteristics

One can meet elements of Arabian influences. Certainly the primitive traits of Greek horses are dominant as they appear in ancient representations. Elements of the Thessaly horse are also evident. They have a cute and smart look, balanced and steady body structure.

Table of Characteristics

Color

Mainly fishy colour, black, white, brown, brown-black..Seldom brown-red.

Height

1,30m till 1,50m. The height is proportionally dependent on the living environment and breed.

Head

Noble, rather long, with straight or slightly bent profile. Large eyes

Shoulder

Rather steep

Neck

Highlighted, strong, with great muscle mass, strong, wide, especially at its base, medium length

Back

Well shaped chest, back is straight and usually inclined upwards

Croup

Inclined, with the tail based on high spot.

Legs

Stead, dry

Hoof

Small but very hard

Character

Aravania are very happy under the presence of humans, actually they have a special need for communicating with us. They are fast learners, patient and calm, therefore ideal for beginner riders, children and people with moving disorders.

Properties

It is a multiuse horse. It is discerned by its ability to move in highlands with absolute safety. Has a high sense of balance and particularly heedful at its movements. It perceives easily the rub and is very aware of where it places its hoof. It can be used for pulling, farming works, for long distances, in snow, on mountains, as a horse for the so called free horse-ridding i.e for long distances and journeys lasting many days. Its step is lively and easily adjusted.

Its unique characteristic is the step, known as “Aravani step”. A step that looks alike single-footing, which makes it comfortable during rides. This step is natural. Appropriate for ridding with the “western” style.

It is easily and quickly trained. Very obedient and optimum for beginner riders (as previously mentioned). It is also good on ground exercises in the track. It is not afraid of water. Its jumps are low. It is emotionally sensitive and clever. It possesses powerful personality and is self-dependence. 

Aravani horses are abstemious, tolerant to diseases and the winter cold. It is covered by rich hair, which falls during spring. Under normal circumstances it may exceed 30 years of age. It should not be ridden under the age of 3. It is mature for ridding when it is over 5 years old. Female can mate from 4 years old and on. Mothers take special care of their little ones. The weaning of the latter, is a phase that calls for preparation and extra care.

Oriiginal work: Presentation of The Greek tribe Aravania (or single-footing) from the centre of Development of the Horse Ridding Art in Pella, article in Greek by Theoharis Aggelidis