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History of the Andalusian

 

The Andalusian horse originated in, and gained its name from, the Spanish Province of Andalusia. Beginning in the late Middle Ages, Carthusian monks selectively bred native Iberian (Spanish) horses and Barb stallions brought to Spain by Moorish invaders. The story of their battle to ensure the breed's purity, and in some instance's its actual survival, is one of romance and drama.

In time, they created three herds of pure Oriental blood, and so great was their determination to maintain these lines that they defied a Royal Edict directing that foreign, central European blood be introduced into the Spanish studs. Later, they successfully hid enough of their beloved horses from Napoleon's armies to ensure the breed's survival.

Throughout Europe, the Andalusian horse became the most popular riding horse among European nobility. Its showy action made it the preferred mount for high school riding, or haute ecole, and its flowing mane and tail, its symmetry and its elegant good looks ensured it was the first choice among European monarchs when having equestrian portraits painted.

There are relatively few Andalusians left now, especially those with the Pura Raza Espanola designation (Pure Bred Spanish or PRE, refers to those horses with documented history in the official stud book), and most of these are in Spain, but their glorious past has ensured that they have had an influence on the equine world that approaches that of the Arab.

They were used in the development of the Holsteins, Wurttembergs, Hannoverians, Lusitano, Friesian, Kladrubers, Nonius and probably even the Connemara pony. Most notably, the Andalusian was extremely important in the development of the Lipizzaner, which was founded from Spanish mares and stallions which were taken to Lipizza in 1580. In 1832, an epidemic devastated Spain's horse population. No Andalusians were permitted to be exported until 1962, hence the rarity of the breed outside of the Iberian peninsula.

In Spain, the agility and spectacular paces of the Andalusians suit them to the demands of the mounted bullfighters. Outside of Spain, the Andalusian is gaining popularity and, when crossed with Thoroughbreds, the pure- and part-breeds are competing successfully in dressage, showing, jumping and eventing.

The description of the Andalusian breed does little to convey the quality and exhilarating presence of this amazing breed of horse.
HEIGHT - 15hh to 16.2hh
COLOR - Mostly grey or bay, occasionally black or roan
HEAD - Handsome, with a straight profile. Broad forehead and large, kind eyes
NECK - Long and deep yet elegant. Well-formed crest on stallions. Very full mane
SHOULDERS - Long, sloping and with well-defined withers
BODY - Short, strong, with well-sprung ribs and a broad chest
HINDQUARTERS - Very broad, strong and rounded. The lush tail is set rather low
LIMBS - Medium length, clean, elegant and strong
ACTION - Showy, rhythmical walk. High-stepping trot. Smooth rocking canter