The Andalusian horse is one of the most ancient of horse breeds and has lived on the Iberian Peninsula since pre-history and is represented in cave paintings dating back 25,000 years. The Andalusian derives its name from its place of origin, the Spanish region of Andalusia, and has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century. The conformation of the Andalusian has changed very little over the centuries.
Throughout its history, the Andalusian has been known for its prowess as a war horse and was prized by the nobility. The breed was also used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government and kings across Europe rode and owned Spanish horses. As time went on, kings from across Europe, including every French monarch from Francis I to Louis XVI, had equestrian portraits created showing themselves riding Spanish-type horses. The Iberian horse became known as the “royal horse of Europe” and was seen at many royal courts and riding academies, including those in Austria, Italy, France and Germany.
Exports of Andalusians from Spain were restricted until the 1960s, but the breed has since spread throughout the world, despite still-low population numbers. In 2010, there were little more than 185,000 registered Andalusians worldwide.
Sometimes, Andalusians are referred to as PRE or ‘Pura Raza Espanola’. This means that the horse is of pure Spanish bloodlines and is registered with a PRE registry.
Andalusian Breed Standard
- Head – The head should be of “average” size, and proportionate to the body. It should be rectangular, lean, with a straight or slightly convex profile. The ears should be mobile, medium sized, well placed and parallel with a well rounded outside curve. They should not point inwards. The forehead should be wide, flat or slightly convex, with large, expressive triangular eyes. The muzzle should be soft and smooth. The upper lip should be longer than the lower lip, and divided (hare’s lip). The nostrils should be long, in the shape of an inverted comma or almond. The jaw should be neither pronounced nor very muscular and blend into the rest of the head.
- Neck – The neck should be of average length and size. It should have and slightly arched curve on top and slightly concave curve on the bottom. The shoulder should be long, elastic and sloping at a 45 degree angle from the line of the ground. It should have sufficient movement to allow freedom of the front legs.
- Chest – It should be proportionate, low set and muscular.
- Body – The body should be well proportionate and robust. The withers should be unobtrusively wide and obvious. A solid muscular back, wide, short loin, muscular and somewhat rounded and well joined to the back and the croup.
- Back – The back is located between the kidneys and the withers and here is where the impulsion created by the hindquarters is transmitted to the forehand. It should be flexible, fairly short, and sufficiently wide in proportion to the rest of the animal, and very slightly concave.
- Loin – The loin is formed by the six lumbar vertebrae, and the muscular mass that covers them, between the back and the croup. The lumbar region is short, wide, and very sensitive to the touch.
- Croup – The croup should be of average length and width, rounded, strong, and slightly sloping. The tail set is low and placed between the buttocks.=
- Temperament – The Temperament is noble and docile, with a willingness and desire to please, and very intelligent. They can seem almost human at times and they form strong bonds with their owners. They love attention from their humans which makes them generally easy to train and they love showing off. Despite being docile, they have great bravery in different uses and situations, and show exuberance.
- Movement – The movement should be agile, high, with good extension, harmonic and rhythmic. They possess a predisposition for collection. The Andalusian is a most impressive sight, with his sculptural beauty, proud bearing and natural high action.
- Coat – Approximately 80% of Andalusians are gray, 15% are bay and 5% are black or dilute colours.