Andalusian horses can rightfully be called royal. After all, more than one generation of European monarchs have sat on their backs, including the French kings Francis I, Louis XIV and the English monarch Charles I. The breed reached its highest dawn during the Renaissance and Baroque periods. However, there were also difficult periods in the history of these horses. These include the occupation of Spain by the Moors, the invasion by Napoleon and the Civil War in the twentieth century.

Spanish Roots

The roots of Spanish horses go back two dozen millennia. Their ancestors could be found on the Iberian Peninsula meadows even during the Paleolithic. This is evidenced by rock carvings in which their characteristic humpbacked profiles can be seen. There is also evidence that the ancestors of this breed were used for riding as early as four thousand years before Christ. At that time, this land was inhabited by Iberians, and it is from them came one of the names of this breed – Iberian. The Celts, Phoenicians and Iberians then crossed local horses with those brought from North Africa, and thus helped to develop the breed.

Greeks and Romans

The Greeks and Romans used Andalusian horses as warhorses. Xenophon’s Hellenica mentions the remarkable maneuverability of the Andalusian cavalry. During the Middle Ages, the popularity of this breed declined because there was a need for hardy and strong horses.

During the Renaissance, however, with the advent of firearms, there was a need for fast and maneuverable horses. And in these qualities, the Spanish thoroughbred has no equal. Andalusian horses were used by kings and nobles for participation in marches or triumphal processions.

Spanish Riding School

The formation of the breed ended in the 16th century. King Philip II commissioned the restoration of the ideal horse breed described in ancient literature. For this purpose, several stables were built in Cordoba. Thus the Spanish school of riding was born, in which the center of gravity was transferred to the hind legs. Due to this, the Spanish horse could easily perform jumps and some choreographic elements. And the allure with the high rise of the front legs was a truly solemn and beautiful spectacle.

In the early 19th century the Andalusian horse was thrown off the podium of popularity by the English breed, which excelled it in speed and endurance. Even in Spain, horse breeders preferred to breed Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses.

Second revival

The second revival of the Andalusian breed in Spain was during the reign of Alfonso XIII. He officially registered the breed in 1912 as a Spanish thoroughbred.

The rest of the world calls this breed Andalusian, because it is in Andalusia where the majority of the breeding centers for these horses are concentrated. There has been a National Association of Breeders since 1972, and international exhibitions of thoroughbred Spanish horses have been held since 1990. The export of Andalusian horses was authorized in 1960, and they began to be bred all over the world. In Spain, their population exceeds 30,000 horses.


Bio: Gabriella Tou has been working as a Project Lead for an IT company for over 7 years. She also manages to lead freelance projects as a content writer for an online paper writing service. Gabriella lives in Barcelona and enjoys horse riding.

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