The History of Andalusian Horses
The Origination of Andalusians
The P.R.E. and Andalusian are also called Iberian horses, since the Andalusian and Lusitano originated from the Iberian Peninsula, and in ancient Greek and Roman times, they were sought after as mounts for the nobility. Some researchers believe that Andalusian ancestors were ridden as early as 4000 BC. Homer mentions the Iberian Horse in the Iliad, written in 1100 BC. The famous Greek Cavalry officer, Xenophon, highly praised the gifted Iberian horses that helped Sparta defeat the Athenians in 450 BC. Hannibal rode an Iberian horse when he defeated the Romans and William the Conqueror had an Andalusian mount during the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
The Regal Stature of Andalusians
For centuries, Andalusians were sought after by kings, warriors, and conquistadors for their athleticism, noble temperament and agility on the battlefield. In 1567, King Philip II decreed that the Andalusian would be used at the Royal Stables at Cordoba for classical dressage . Francois de la Gueriniere, the founding father of classical dressage in the 18th century, wrote, “unanimous preference for the Spanish horse, and have considered him to be the best for manege work because of his agility, and the strength of his hind legs, combined with their elasticity. His natural cadence and pride make him the first choice for the pomp of the parade where he can display his grace and his nobility. His courage combined with utmost docility is the foremost requirement.”
The Spanish Horse became the “Royal Horse of Europe” and was present at every court. Grand Riding Academies were formed and classical dressage flourished, with Andalusians. They were preferred because of their natural impulsion, and agility. The Duke of Newcastle, in 1667, wrote that the Andalusian was “the noblest horse in the world, the most beautiful that can be. He is of great spirit and of great courage and docile; hath the proudest trot and the best action in his trot, the loftiest gallop, and is the lovingest and gentlest horse, and fittest of all for a king in his day of triumph.”
Modern-Day Musings of Andalusian Horses
In the United States, all Spanish and Portuguese bred horses are known as and registered as Andalusians by the I.A.L.H.A. Originally, Spain and Portugal interbred “Andalusians.” The modern descendants of Spanish bred Andalusians are known as PRE, Pura Raza Espanola, or Pure Spanish Horses and Portuguese bred Andalusian lines are called Lusitano or PSL, Puro Sangue Lusitano.
In Spain and Portugal, the studbooks were closed around 60 years ago and these bloodlines are no longer interbred. In Europe and most of the world, a Spanish Andalusian crossed with a Portuguese Lusitano would be considered a grade horse or cross breed and not able to be registered.
In the United States, the IALHA, American registry, has decided to respect the heritage and common genetics and allow them to interbreed and register crosses as pure Andalusians, although they are not recognized anywhere else in the world. Half Andalusians are often crossed with Friesians (known as a Warlander), Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses (known as an Azteca).
On IALHA registration papers, each horse in a pedigree has its bloodline noted following its name with an (S) for Pure Spanish, a (P) for Pure Portuguese, or an (S/P) which is a cross. An (S) denotes that the entire ancestry traces strictly to the Spanish Stud Book, and that the horse might meet criteria for being recognized as a PRE through ANCCE, in Spain and recognized throughout the World as a Purebred Spanish Andalusian or PRE, Pura Raza Española, if they are revised (meaning that a Spanish judge has deemed them breeding quality and true to type). Castle Farm is proud to breed these Pure Spanish Andalusian horses, or PRE.