The Andalucian Horse
Horses have always been linked to Spanish history and culture…from the strong, swift warhorses of the conquistadors through the brave, tragic horses of the bullfights to the dazzling dancing horses of the Spanish dressage shows.
Gypsies, monks and even sherry barons have played a part in the development of the breed that Spain is famous for throughout the horse world – the beautiful Andalucian.
The magnificent creature above is an Andalucian stallion called Comanche. He is an unusual colour – blacks are rare in a breed that is predominantly grey or bay – but has the typical muscular build of the Andalucian stallion.
The Andalucian horse, offically known as the Pura Raza Espanola, is compact and powerful while remaining intelligent and sensitive. When treated with respect they are quick to learn, responsive, and cooperative.
The head groom to Henri IV, Salomon de la Broue, said in 1600, “Comparing the best horses, I give the Spanish horse first place for its perfection, because it is the most beautiful, noble, graceful and courageous”.
The Andalucian is right up there with the Arabian when it comes to purity & length of bloodline. The grandfather of modern horse breeds, Andalucian blood influences almost every breed known today.
In spite of their lengthly history, all living Andalucian animals can trace their lineage back to a small number of animals bred by religious orders during the 18th & 19th centuries. During the 19th century war ripped through Spain & most available horseflesh was requisitioned or stolen. During this time an epidemic caused purebred numbers to further decline, as did an influx of Norman & Arabian blood. Throughout all of this, one small herd was kept hidden from the destruction at the Carthusian monastery near the coast of Jerez de la Frontera. This herd was later used to renew the breed.
From the very beginning of their history, Andalucians have been used for both riding and driving. Among the first horses used for classical dressage, they are still making a mark in international competition in dressage today.
Post and images by photographer Derek Evans