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He was highly skilled in battle… known for his braveness, strength, and willingness to charge forth into danger. He had the stamina to cover vast regions with surprising fleetness, and the sensibility not to give away the position of his rider in ambushes. He learned battle skills such as the capriole and courbette, which were later developed in the classical riding schools (see Airs Above the Ground) . He is and remains the horse from which dressage was created. 

 

He was the chosen mount of royalty and present in nearly ever court in Europe. He possessed striking beauty, nobility, intelligence, versatility, tractability and kindness. He was known as the Horse of Kings or the Royal Horse of Europe.

 

Make no mistake, these are not fanciful claims of an over enthusiastic American high on marketing hype. While most every country possessed a kings court of chosen royal mounts, the Spanish horse was well known for his superiority throughout Europe. 

 

F R A N C E … circa 1600:

    "Comparing the best horses, and considering which is most perfect, I would place the Spanish first. I choose him as the most beautiful, the noblest, the most graceful, the bravest, and the one who most deserves to be ridden by a King. And if I compare it with those horses that are also great natural runners, it is always the Spanish horse that gallops with the most precision and art."

                   ~ Saloman de la Broue,

                     Head Groom of King Henri IV of France, circa 1600

 

F R A N C E … circa 1773,  The Spanish Horse is still unequalled…..

    "All authors have always shown a preference for the Spanish horse, considering it the best of all horses for high school dressage, due to its agility, its resilience and its rhythm. It is considered the most adequate to show off, because of its bravery, distinction, and noble character."

 

             ~Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere,

               Equerry to the King of France, circa 1773

 

Riding academies were formed in Austria, France, Germany & Italy where dressage & high school movements were developed, refined and flourished. The Iberian horse was the favored mount of the academies for its impulsion, forward motion & agility.

 

The Spanish Horse has influenced many of today's Warmblood breeds as well as Thoroughbreds (see Articles section for definitive proof of Iberian blood in the foundations of many warmblood breeds of today).

 

He arrived on our soils with the Conquistadors and is the forbearer of many of today’s most popular breeds in the Americas, including the Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Mustang, Paso Fino, Peruvian Paso, Azteca as well as influencing the Lipizzan  Lusitano & the Friesian. 

The Royal Horse of Europe, The Horse of Kings

      Early History

‘Andalusian’ is an ancient name used since the 4th century BC to denote the horses from the Iberian Peninsula (about 450 miles from tip to tip). In early history, the entire peninsula was called Andaluz, derived from the Vandals… centuries before Spain & Portugal had defined borders and were called Spain or Lusitania..

Cave drawing in Andalusia

30,000—20,000 BC

Iberian Celt Horsemen 4th Century BC vase

Taking this ancient name Andaluz several centuries later, the region of Andalucia, Spain, is the location where many early breeders of the Pure Spanish Horse or Andalusian were concentrated.  There are multi-generational breeders of the Spanish Horse still flourishing today in this region, with long established, century old breeding programs. After the demise of the Military cavalry, the 20th century brought diminished numbers for the breed.  Spain experienced a severe draught, a recession and the unwelcomed African horse sickness in 1966 as well as 1987-1990 which claimed the lives of thousands.  Once more, the breed flourishes, and today there are several hundred of breeders of the Pura Raza Espanola. The climate of Spain is certainly ideal for raising horses.

 

The name PRE - Pura Raza Española, or Pure Spanish Horse, originated in 1567 Spain with an unprecedented breeding program developed by King Philip II.  By the king’s decree and highest standards, he selected roughly 1200 mares procured from breeders around the countryside. These mares and a select group of stallions possessing the ideal phenotype or desirable breed traits were brought to the Royal Stables of Cordoba. The king began his breeding program with the intention of concentrating and defining those baroque traits and improving the breed type, casting his eyes upon the past, reclaiming the purest Baroque horse of the history pages.  

From where did this baroque horse originate?

 

It was already present on the Iberian peninsula.  The breed is thought by many to date back long before the Roman empire.

 

Cave drawings found in the region of Andalucia date back to approximately 30,000—20,000 B.C. ( see image above).   

 

The Phoenicians encountered this horse in battle in 4,000 BC.  The Celts discovered him upon their arrival in the 4th century Iberia, Greeks, Moors & Romans were taken with it’s bravery & cunning. Many believe the Iberian horses are one of the oldest breeds on Earth.

 

Since its presence and definitive type was identified long before the Moorish invasion, it was clearly not a product of Arabian blood outcrossing.  Some accounts of Andalusian history are completely incorrect on this matter.

Pure Spanish Horse History

Charles I, 1635

Andalusian Traits

PRE Breed Standard

Andalusian History

PRE Accepted Colors

Inscription & Revision

Spanish Terminology

Nutrition & Health

SICAB Past Champions

PRE in the Olympics

Airs Above the Ground

Alta Escuela

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