About Andalusian Horses
The modern day Pure Spanish Horse is derived from very
ancient horses whose body shapes are depicted in cave drawings from at least
5000 BC in both north-eastern and southern regions of Spain. Eventually
predominating in the southern province of Andalucía, they became known as
Andalusian horses. However, the authorities of the Spanish stud book now prefer
them to be known as Pura Raza Española (P.R.E.) or Pure Spanish Horse. There
are about 45,000 world-wide.
Andalusian horses are a very beautiful aristocratic horse,
with a lovely arched neck held uprightly on a strong, compact body. The cannons
(lower legs) are short and sturdy. It has a long thick mane and tail, and the
predominantly grey or bay coat has a natural glistening sheen to it. The height
varies from 15 to 17 hands (152 to 173 centimeters).
They have a lovely rocking canter and such stamina that its
forbears were reputed to be able to carry a fully armored Spanish soldier for
40 miles (64 kilometers) in a day. Rounded (collected) leg action, a natural
athleticism and high intelligence make them able to master high school dressage
movements easily. For this reason they are also known as “The Dancing Horses”.
Powerful hindquarters and natural balance make them very good and stylish show
jumpers too. Their versatility, strength and responsiveness lends to their
ability at many riding and harness driving disciplines including Western
riding, trail riding, bull fighting, making movies, and plain old hacking!
Andalusians were in the company of Hannibal and his
elephants, and ridden as cavalry horses since the time of the ancient Greeks,
but lost favor during the Middle Ages because heavily armored knights required
much larger, more solid horses for battle. With the invention of firearms in
the 1500s, the fortunes of the Andalusian horses turned and they were once
again used in the military. By royal decree of King Felipe II the horse was standardized
between 1567-1593 and bred selectively to his ideal represented by the horse of
With its regal bearing and sociable, kind, and respectful
temperament this horse was a favorite of European royalty and it became known
as “The Horse of Kings”. Many art forms show them being ridden by famous people
– the greatness of the rider being accentuated by the stunning presence of the
mount! However, with less ostentatious display from royal houses during the
1800s Andalusian horses numbers began to fall.
Andalusian horses are a contributor to many other modern
breeds in both the Old and New Worlds. They were taken along with other breeds
by the Spanish Conquistadores to the Americas from the early 1490s. As the
Conquistadores were mainly from Andalucía, the breeds transported were from
there as well, and included the Spanish Jennet (a gaited horse) and the Barb.
The mixing of these horses developed into many new breeds within varying
geographical areas of the New World. The following are but a few breeds
descended from Spanish horse stock: the Criollo of Argentina, Peruvian Paso,
Paso Fino of Puerto Rico and Colombia, Mustang (Spanish Colonial Horse) of the
American mid and western areas, Native American Appaloosa and the Quarter
Horse. In the Old World, in 1580 they became the foundation of the Lipizzaner,
and at least since the 1600s they were used in the development of the
Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Kladruber, Lusitano, Alter Real, Friesians, Oldenburg –
and the English Thoroughbred!
Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz )