The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE, is a horse breed from the Iberian Peninsula, where its ancestors have lived for thousands of years. The Andalusian has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century, and its conformation has changed very little over the centuries. Throughout its history, it has been known for its prowess as a war horse, and was prized by the nobility. The breed was used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government, and kings across Europe rode and owned Spanish horses.
The Andalusian originates in Southern Spain, back to the 15th century. Carthusian monks bred them in monasteries in Seville and Jerez. The Andalusian was influenced by horses of invading armies, the result of crossing native mares with Barb stallions. The Barbs were brought in during the Moorish dominance of Spain, where selective breeding was done by the Carthusian Monks in the 15th century. The battle to ensure the breed’s purity and survival was very dramatic. In time, they created 3 herds of 100% pure oriental blood. There was NO Arab or any other foreign blood used in the development of the Andalusian.
Strongly built, and compact yet elegant, Andalusians have long, thick manes and tails. Their most common coat color is gray, although they can be found in many other colors. They are known for their intelligence, sensitivity and docility. A sub-strain within the breed known as the Carthusian, is considered by breeders to be the purest strain of Andalusian, though there is no genetic evidence for this claim. The strain is still considered separate from the main breed however, and is preferred by breeders because buyers pay more for horses of Carthusian bloodlines.
The Andalusian’s conformation is very strong: arched neck, short-coupled, powerful body, strong hock action and impulsion. These characteristics of strength, natural collection, courageous, impulsion, agility and kind temperament were requirements of any war horse. The Andalusian was used as a war horse, to carry heavily armored knights into battle and was very popular in mounted armies.
The Andalusian is gaining popularity rapidly. The Andalusian was originally bred to be a cavalry horse and for high-school riding. In Spain, the Andalusian is used in bullrings and spanish fesivals. The agility and wonderful paces of this breed made it perfect for the demands of the “Rejoneadoes” (mounted bullfighters). In the United States, the Andalusian is gaining popularity in dressage and show jumping.