The Shagya is a very special Arabian breed which is not very well known worldwide because of its rarity. This breed was developed on the famous military studs of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over 200 years ago. With its origins deriving from purebred desert Arabians blended with English Thoroughbred, Iberian, Alke Teke, Lippizanners and domestic mares. The Shagya breed was consolidated many generations ago, so that it breeds consistently true to type. The Shagya combines the advantages of the Bedouin Arabian, (elegant type, great hardiness and toughness, endurance, easy keeping qualities and inborn friendliness toward humans) with the requirements of a modern riding horse, ie. sufficient movement and enormous jumping ability. If purebred Arabians are considered the "diamonds" of the horseworld, Shagyas can be considered the "brilliants", cut and polished in order to fulfill the demand for high quality riding horses in the modern world.
This special Arabian breed, was created in 1789 on the famous Austro-Hungarian military stud farms, primarily in Hungary ata Babolna, Radautz and Piber. Later stud farms in Topolcianky (Czechoslovakia), Mangalia (Romania), and Kabijuk (Bulgaria) also bred Shagyas. The purpose was to develop a breed of superier cavalry and carriage horses, as well as a breed which could supply prepotent breeding stallions to be used as improvers for other breeds. The Shagya not only served as a calvary horses in many European theaters of war, they were also used as brilliant parade horses for Europe's royalty. The Imperial guard of the Habsburgs in Vienna were always mounted on elegant Shagyas. The toughness, endurance rideability, and courage of these horses was proverbial in horse breeding circles. Every royal guard or officer regarded it a privilege to be able to ride a Shagya. Even today one can still admire many statues commemoratiing the heoric deeds of these horses in Hungary. Many horses coming into the US after WWII with General Patton as improvement stock for the US calvary contained Shagya blood.
Today's horse is considered obsolete as a war instrument and instead must earn his keep as apartner in horse sports. These fine quality horses were developed for the calvary (the mount of the Hussars, one of the finest...if not the finest...light calvary in Europe) therefore they make great modern day competitive distance horses. The 2000 Tevis' Haggin Cup went to a Shagys bred mare, Fayette de Cameo who came back in 2001 to win this 100 mile famous test of courage and stamina. Shagyas in Europe have also proven themselves successful in open competitions against warmbloods in dressage, jumping and 3-day eventing.