For the Love of the Arabian Horse

Cynthia Culbertson-210229 February 2016, USA ~ Cynthia Culbertson, historian, writer, author of The Arabian Horse of Egypt speaks to Horsereporter on her love of the Arabian horse.

“I was always attracted to Arabian horses, said Cynthia Culbertson when we recently caught up with her at the Arabian Breeders’ Conference in Abu Dhabi. Culbertson had come to give a lecture and slide presentation on Arabian horse history and heritage and its relevance to modern breeders. 

“I was born loving horses, but when I saw my first Arabian horse, I knew they were the ones for me.” she said. 

Culbertson had a pony by age 4, and graduated to a half – Arabian as a teenager when she competed at shows riding for herself and other owners.  At this time, it was typical to have an Arabian horse that could show in many disciplines, and this was swiftly accomplished by changing saddles and riding outfits.

Beginning her first breeding program while still in High School, Culbertson owned her own home-bred Egyptian-Arabian foal before she was 17 years of age.  “Although I appreciate all Arabians, I am particularly drawn to Egyptian Arabians,“ she admitted.

Of no surprise, she had been impressed as a youngster by reading the Black Stallion series written by Walter Farley, who wrote of the wonders of the desert and of the beautiful Arabian horses that could carry heroes across the sands and rescue young children from any danger.

Culbertson took a year off from her intended University path as she was accepted into an apprenticeship program with the legendary breeder, Judith Forbis at Ansata Arabian Stud. Culbertson considers Forbis one of her lifelong mentors in the Arabian horse world. Cynthia-0061

A thirst for further knowledge into the origins of the Arabian horse led Culbertson into Arabic Studies at Indiana University.  “I wanted to further study Arabians and much of their history is recorded in Arabic literature and poetry, and this literary tradition of the horse in Arabic is highly respected,” she said.

This specialization in translation led her to many interesting conclusions and her love of the history of the Arabian developed a path for her future.  In her words: “I enjoy communicating the great stories and history of the Arabian horse.”

After graduation from University, Culbertson entered the corporate world as a management consultant. Keeping her growing band of Egyptian Arabians in Georgia, USA, Culbertson lived and worked for more than a decade in Saudi Arabia. “ I was not satisfied with only reading about the history of the Arabian horse so I took advantage of a great opportunity to travel in the homelands of the breed and feel I have greatly benefited from first-hand experience in the countries where the Arabian horse developed,” she said.

In Saudi Arabia and throughout the homelands of the Arabian, Culbertson feels blessed to have met so many Arabian horse breeders and to be able to travel around the region. “I was also very interested in seeing the remaining desert-bred horses in their ancestral lands and visited as many as I could find. Once the horse was no longer needed for warfare in the mechanized age, the horse population (in the Middle East) dwindled, but thanks to a few dedicated owners and breeders, some of the original strains have remained. Now due to changes in the economy and the region, there has been a renaissance of Arabian breeding in the Gulf.”

Marek Trela, Cynthia, Nasr Marei

Dr. Marek Trela, Culbertson and Nasr Marei were featured at the AHO Conference

In 2000, when it was time to move back to the United States, Culbertson and her husband moved El Miladi Arabian Stud to New Mexico.   

Culbertson is a board member of the Pyramid Society and was as co curator of the first major international museum exhibition of the Arabian horse at Lexington, Kentucky, in 2010. She has produced a body of work relating to the Arabian horse and is now involved in several projects relating to the breed. She is regularly invited to lecture on Bedouin culture and the history and art of the Arabian horse.

If you would like more information about Cynthia Culbertson or her speaking calendar contact: