The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE (Pura Raza Española), 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. During the 19th century, warfare, disease and crossbreeding reduced herd numbers dramatically, and despite some recovery in the late 19th century, the trend continued into the early 20th century. Exports of Andalusians from Spain were restricted until the 1960s, but the breed has since spread throughout the world, despite their low population. In 2010, there were more than 185,000 registered Andalusians worldwide.
Strongly built, and compact yet elegant, Andalusians have long, thick manes and tails. 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. There are several competing registries keeping records of horses designated as Andalusian or PRE, but they differ on their definition of the Andalusian and PRE, the purity of various strains of the breed, and the legalities of stud book ownership. At least one lawsuit is in progress as of 2011, to determine the ownership of the Spanish PRE stud book.
In the past, most coat colors were found, including spotted patterns. Today most Andalusians are gray or bay; in the US, around 80 percent of all Andalusians are gray. Of the remaining horses, approximately 15 percent are bay and 5 percent are black, dun or palomino or chestnut. Other colors, such as buckskin, pearl, and cremello, are rare, but are recognized as allowed colors by registries for the breed.
In the early history of the breed, certain white markings and whorls were considered to be indicators of character and good or bad luck. Horses with white socks on their feet were considered to have good or bad luck, depending on the leg or legs marked. A horse with no white markings at all was considered to be ill-tempered and vice-ridden, while certain facial markings were considered representative of honesty, loyalty and endurance. Similarly, hair whorls in various places were considered to show good or bad luck, with the most unlucky being in places where the horse could not see them – for example the temples, cheek, shoulder or heart. Two whorls near the root of the tail were considered a sign of courage and good luck.
The Andalusian is closely related to the Lusitano of Portugal, and has been used to develop many other breeds, especially in Europe and the Americas. Breeds with Andalusian ancestry include many of the warmbloods in Europe as well as western hemisphere breeds such as the Azteca. Over its centuries of development, the Andalusian breed has been selected for athleticism and stamina. The horses were originally used for classical dressage, driving, bullfighting, and as stock horses. Modern Andalusians are used for many equestrian activities, including dressage, show jumping and driving. The breed is also used extensively in movies, especially historical pictures and fantasy epics.
The notion that “dressage” is just this separate discipline created only for those who choose to “do dressage” drives me up the wall. Im sure any proper dressage rider would know that dressage is the basis for all riding and every horse (from barrel racers to polo ponies) would greatly benefit from the theory behind it.
Bixie competitions are shows organised for very young and beginning children with their ponies. Every year, Dutch equestrian federation KNHS and equestrian store Divoza Horseworld organise an event where kids can compete in dressage, show jumping and driving shows as well as participate in many games and activities with their ponies. This results in the cutest shots ever!