The Andalusian Breed

Andalusian Breed Description

General Characteristics The attributes of strength, natural collection, agility, impulsion, and kind temperament are the fundamental characteristics possessed by the Andalusian horse.
Conformation The Andalusian is strongly built, yet extremely elegant. The head is of medium length,
rectangular and lean. The head in profile is slightly convex or straight with a broad forehead and well-placed ears. The eyes are alive, oval, and placed within an orbital arch. The face is straight or softly convex,
moderately narrow, and without excess flesh. The neck is reasonably long, broad, yet elegant and well-crested in stallions. Well defined withers precede a short back; the quarters are broad and strong. The croup is rounded and of medium length.
Colour About 80% of Andalusians are grey or white, 15% are bay, and 5%
are black.
Height 15.2 to 16.2 hands.
Mane and Tail The mane is thick and abundant. The tail is abundant, set low, and lies tightly against the body.

Andalusian Breed History

The Andalusian horse is one of the most ancient of horse breeds. It has lived on the Iberian Peninsula since pre-history and is represented in cave paintings dating back 25,000 years.

The Iberian horse evolved in hilly and rugged areas of the Iberian peninsula. (The term Andalusian is used in many countries to denote the Iberian horse because Andalucia, Spain, is where many notable stud farms are located.) The Iberian horse adapted to this rough terrain by developing a strong, arched neck, a short-coupled and powerful body, hindlegs positioned well underneath the body with strong hock action and impulsion, and small, round hoofs. These attributes made the horse extremely agile as well as forward moving. Some researchers believe that these horses were being ridden perhaps as early as 4,000 – 3,000 BC.

Since the time of the Greeks, the Iberian horse was regarded as the war horse or cavalry horse without equal. Homer mentions the Iberian horses in the Iliad written about 1,100 BC. The famous Greek cavalry officer Xenophon highly praised the “gifted Iberian horses” and their role in helping Sparta defeat the Athenians around 450 BC. Hannibal, in the Second Punic War(218-201BC ), defeated the invading Romans several times through the use of Iberian Cavalry. The Romans, however, were ultimately successful in their conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and subsequently established stud farms in Spain and Portugal to supply horses for their own campaigns in Britain and other fronts.

This military use of the Iberian horse continued unabated with William the Conqueror ultimately riding an Andalusian horse in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Over the next few centuries, however, the trend was for heavier and heavier armor for the mounted knights. As a result, the Iberian horse was gradually replaced as the premier warhorse by larger, slower moving draft and warmblood horses. This trend was later reversed in the fifteenth century with the development of firearms and the need for rapid and agile horses.

The most devastating period for the Iberian horse began in 1492. Spain at that time began the conquest of the New World, invaded Portugal, attacked England, and was involved in the Dutch Wars. Following this period of sustained conflict, Napoleon invaded Spain and the horse was central in the country’s defense. Finally, internal revolt against the Church (which owned major stud farms) in the 1830’s and the revolution of 1936 continued the dispersal of the stud farms.

After 2,000 years of European warfare and internal strife, the pool of purebred Spanish and Portuguese horses was very small and the horse was threatened with extinction. Consequently, exportation from Spain and Portugal was very restricted so as to give Spanish and Portuguese breeders the opportunity to develop and expand their stud farms.

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