Andalusian Horse

Origin: Spain.Andalusian Horse

Height: About 16hh.

Color: Nearly always gray. Can be black.

Character: Intelligent, affectionate, and proud.

Physique: Medium-big head with slightly convex face, large, expressive eyes, neat ears, carried nobly on a strong, crested neck. Big, well-made shoulder, deep chest. Longish, straight back; broad, compact body with strong loins, powerful, rounded hindquarters. Legs clean and strong, with hocks well let down and short cannon bones.

Spanish historians claim that there were horses in the Iberian peninsula before the subsidence of the Straits of Gibraltar and that these horses came from Africa. The first importation of horses to Spain on record was the 2,000 Numidean mares brought by Hasdrubel of Carthage – legendary animals who were claimed to be “faster than the wind,” and who were left to run wild in Iberia until the Roman invasion of 200 BC. The Romans tamed this Spanish horse, but after their retreat, it was free to run wild again.

For over 600 years, Spanish horses breed naturally without human selection. The beginnings of a true type came into existence following the invasion by northern European barbarians, mainly Teutonic, who conquered the part of Spain later to be named for them – Vandalusia. The Vandals brought with them horses of a “pure Germanic” type; tall horses, with long slender necks and stout bodies, who interbred with the indigenous Spanish animals.

In 711 AD the Moslems invaded Spain and stayed for eight centuries. In the first wave of the invasion, they brought with them 300,000 horses which were almost certainly Barbs. The first official stud, at Cordoba, was started by the Moslem Almanzor, and the Barb-Teutonic-Iberian cross began to stabilize into the Spanish horse.

Fighting the Moslems taught the Spanish to breed for selective purposes. Riding the heavyweight German-Spanish type of horse they had little chance against the fantastic agility of the Arab- and Barb-mounted Moslems, who could dart in from the side and, with the use of razor-sharp stirrups, slash the Spanish horses’ tendons simply by sticking out a leg.

About the time of the conquest of Granada (11th century), the Catholic kings switched over to light cavalry, heavy armor was abandoned, and the Spanish horse became not just a means of transport but a fighting animal. This was achieved by mixing the Spanish horse freely with Oriental blood. From this time onwards Spanish horses of the Andalusian type spread throughout Europe, where they contributed enormously to the improvement of native stock.

The military importance of good horses had been thoroughly impressed upon the Spanish leaders, and throughout the Middle Ages the kings of Spain practiced selective breeding and offered inducements to breeders-large-scale breeders could not be imprisoned for debt, their eldest sons were exempt from military service, and so on.

The greatest breeders of the true Andalusian were undoubtedly the monks, whose obsession with purity of line was little short of fanatical, and who even threatened to excommunicate followers who veered away from the national equestrian style. In 1476 the Carthusian monks in Jerez acquired 10,000 acres of land through a bequest, and, along with two other Carthusian monasteries, began the production of Andalusians, bringing to the job intelligence and devotion that was greatly aided by the enormous wealth of the Church at their disposal.

It was as well that the Carthusian interest had been aroused since Andalusians had a disastrous time at the Royal Stud during the reign of Philip III. Hieronymo Tiuti, manager of the stud, crossed the purebreds in his charge indiscriminately with Norman, Danish, and Neapolitan stallions, all of which were Roman-nosed, producing a slower, heavier type of carriage horse. Later, Napoleon’s marshals creamed off the best of the Spanish studs and wiped out many of the divergent strains. No good Andalusians were left, save for a few concealed here and there by the Carthusians and a small ‘nerd hidden by the Zapata family.

Andalusian began to prosper once again. Despite religious persecution, the Arthurian monks persevered with their line of Andalusian selection, which resulted in a very slightly coarser type of horse known as the Andalusian-Carthusian, or Carthusian.

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