Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pura Raza Española

 In 1578, when Portugal was annexed to Spain, the horses living on the Iberian Peninsula were known simply as the Iberian Horse. These horses were an ancient breed, with similar ones found in 20,000 year old cave drawings. In AD 711, during the Moorish invasion, the ancient Iberian horses were bred with the invaders Barbs, changing the breed a little. Over time, other civilizations, including the Celts, Carthaginians, Romans, and some German tribes, influenced the breed, making it what it is today. 

 During the Middle Ages, the Andalusians were briefly replaced by heavier breeds as a war mount of choice, but that soon changed when guns started coming around. Before long, the Andalusian became the royal horse of Europe and was found in riding academies in Austria, France, Italy, and Germany.

 In 1567, the breed was selected by King Phillip II to go the Royal Stables of Cordoba, where they were trained in classical dressage. For centuries afterward, the breed was reputed as the ideal war and dressage horse. Many dressage enthusiasts know Francois de la Gueriniere, who wrote that Spanish horses's agility, elasticity, and strong hind legs make it an ideal dressage horse. He also continues on to state that their natural cadence and pride make in preferable in parades and its courage make it suitable for battle. 

 The Andalusian is arguably the original dressage horse. Centuries ago, when many of today's horse were still doing farm work, the Andalusian and Lusitano were in the arena, performing flying changes and half-halts. Because of that, it became the foundation breed for other breeds, including the famed Lipizzaner, and is found in many popular breeds all over the world, namely the American Quarter Horse, the Connemara, the Cleveland Bay, Peruvian Paso, and many of the German warmbloods. 

Another name for the Andalusian is Pura Raza Española, P.R.E. for short. In the breed's early days, major breeders living in Spain were often found living in Andalusian, hence the modern American name for the breed. Their first national studbook was formed in 1911 by Cría Caballer, and the recognized official breed name became Pura Raza Española.

Andalusians are beautiful, elegant horses. source
Since then, arguments have arisen between Spain and Portugal about the breed. Historically, Spain's Andalusians and Portugal's Lusitanos are the same breed, but disagreements between the two countries separated it into two different breeds. In 1954, the two countries made an attempt combine the two studbooks, yet a common name was never agreed upon so they were never united. Consequently, the Andalusian and Lusitano share many physical qualities, the only difference being lineage or usage. 

Breed Characteristics and Uses:

 Andalusians are athletic horses with dramatic movement. They are strongly built, yet elegant with good, substantial bone, arched necks, well-defined withers, short backs, deep barrels, strong hindquarters, and rounded croups, all framed by luxuriously thick, flowing manes and tails. They stand 15.2 to 16.2 hands high. Their gaits are naturally collected. Most commonly, Andalusians are grey, though bay, black, dun, and palomino sometimes occur.  

 Their profiles are lean and rectangular with a broad forehead, and their eyes are large and kind.

 In contrast to the Lusitano, their profiles are straighter, hindquarters finer, and trot more active. 

Andalusians excel in dressage, jumping, saddle seat, driving, cavalry displays, bullfighting, and ranch work. 

 They are proud, docile, intelligent, and cooperative, learning quickly and easily. Just like Thoroughbreds, they have what most people call heart and bravely do what they are asked, whether it be fighting a bull or clearing an impossibly high fence. 

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