The Spanish Horse - Lineage And Tradition

If every great culture had its horse, ours was shaping it after its own image and likeness; lively like the sun, with a warm look, deep eyes, noble appearance, as bright as the white shadow of farms.

The horse originated in Spain received with the passage of centuries many ethnic influences, due to invasions, occupations and the changing tastes of our aristocracy. However, from the first news that we have about our horse coincide in its description the same features, the same attitudes and the same grace that now has; proof of that are the testimonies, which describe it in the different steps of history; the Pure Spanish Race horse is known in many parts of the world as Andalusian, and that is because of the merit of those who in this land bred and knew how to increase its advantages and natural looks.

Much has been talked and written about the horse, nevertheless it had always been granted the qualities of well proportioned and showing off much gracefulness in its movements. Cotareno called him noble and bright; comfortable to ride on it, with a wide and a slightly sheep-like head, broad forehead; big, lively and fiery eyes; and also defined as slow to develop.

Certainly, and this is recognized by everybody, our horse is arrogant, presumptuous, majestic at a trot and noble behaviour.

The Duke of Newcastle described it as ideal for a great monarch in a triumph day could flaunt his glory before his people or could appear in the battle at the head of his army.

Salomon De Brue, Master of the horse of King Henry IV, from France, still went further on, comparing the best horses among them and considering to their best perfection, he put the Spanish horse in the first place. He voted it as the most courageous, more worthy of riding it a great king and above all the noblest.

The Pure Spanish Breed Horses are plentiful in our whole peninsula, but not in all regions had the same development as in number as in quality. The Sevillian countryside, Jerez and Cordoba stand out. (Are highlighted).

Antonio Machado Nuñez, the famous poet's grandfather, placed the best herd of horses in Arcos, Jerez and Medina Sidonia, in the province of Cádiz; Lucena and Aguilar in Cordoba; La Palma, Almonte and Gibraleón in Huelva; Dos Hermanas and Los Palacios in Seville.

Only the major island of the Guadalquivir river sheltered every year 7000 stallions and mares, and another one thousand pastured in the minor island. They admirably recover in spring with rich saltpetrous pastures from those plains for straight after going to the big Fairs from Seville and Mairena in number of ten to twelve thousands.

In the shade of Chartreuse Monastery, in Jerez lived in the best legend that had the Andalusian horse. Here in this Charterhouse, still at prayer, were created the ancient myths of a distinguished stock, the Cartujanos (breed of horse found in Jerez de la Frontera); that still fill stables with colts.

There is a widespread coincidence that can make doubt to those no initiated; almost every famous stockbreeding tell that they have inherited the best ancestries of our horse directly or indirectly form this royal legend, form this projecting, the Cartujanos.

According to Francisco de la Iglesia, the brothers Andrés and Diego Zamora, blacksmiths, and inhabitants of Jerez, bought a soldier a good sire for their mares, and they got form it a colt male and a colt female. The colt grew in the care of Zamora Brothers, becoming the best horse that had ever been known in Jerez.
It was dark dapple-grey horse, well proportioned, with seven spans and five digits of height at the withers, with much grace and agility of movements. Furthermore, it turned out to be a good stud, to the point of filling the herd of horses with beautiful colts and marvellous young fillies. Its name was Esclavo, and it was sold for 4000 pesos, an immense fortune at that time, in such a way that it began the stock known as "Zamorana", at that time it had not still to do with the monks.

The descendants of "Esclavo" were sold after the death of the Zamoras ,among the many persons who wanted to own such a good blood. The major part was bought by Pedro Picado, who years later and without having money to pay any taxes to the Chartreuse, he had to hand over them to the monks. In this way, it was born the legend.

The monks were great observers, they had a lot of time, and they dedicate with much care to breed and select the horses. Nowadays it is known that Seville had much importance in the creation of the Cartuja in Jerez, in fact the Cartuja from Jerez is formed through the Cartuja from Seville.

After the disentailment of the Cartuja, these specimens were handed to other hands that also got renown, it is appropriate to underline to Zapata and his Zapateros.

Mr. Vicente Romero took charge of drawing out the slight chances of that legend and with it the best examples of XIXth century, which scattered their blood for almost all the Andalusian farms.

The best branding irons searched for finding any old resemblance with the sire of Zamora Brothers in the trunks of time, or with any of the other stocks of our strain, such as Guzmanes, Valenzuelas and Romanitos. And the safest thing is that all this actually, before or after the crossbreeding of those bought, given up or rented stud horses; brought the appearance of those horses to their house.

If the Pure Spanish Breed Horse was also raised in our lands, it was not by chance, but because nature appears in Andalusia with the gifts that more brighten up its life; the softness of our climate, the water and the good pastures, are decisive in this association of Andalusia with the horse.

Water is the ordinary drink of the horse and it must have it near, not too cold, because it could give him a cold. An old manual tells that water is good and healthy provided that the horse does not come in to drink it during the most severe weather in winter. If it is necessary water a horse during winter in the stud, it must be immediately after water flows, before it gets a considerable level of coldness. In order to warm water up a little is enough introducing the hand in water, to put in a little of bran; or shake it with a handful of straw.

Also our lands are good "cookers" for horses, mixed feed, fresh pastureland and straw are an excellent menu even for the most exigent specimens. The saltpetrous pasturage of these fields were always excellent as for the horse as for the bull, inseparable partners in the past in our meadows.

The plentiful straw that comes after harvests is also very rich in foods. Another old book tell about it as excellent when is composed by wheat and it is white and small. It is also improved in food when it is served mixed with other plants, as fumaria, amorphous and lion stalk. White straw must be preferred than black one because this is harder and it has a smell that horses detest. The wise book also said that it wasn't strange that only with straw horses were raised, since its nucleus is sugared and more here in Spain than in other European Nations.

Among natural foods, which abound in the southern fields, are underlined bran that is milled wheat husk, grain barley and alfalfa. When barley and alfalfa are offered fresh, they add other more properties to those, which they have. Alfalfa must be eaten in its lands before it opens its flower, because then it can provoke great indigestions. Herb barley is also very useful for healthy horses, though very harmful for those, which suffer from asthma or are very old.

Painting and illustration bring us proofs of some changes that took place in our race. There was a time, during XVIIth century, when crossbreeding of our horses with German and Neapolitan ones was in fashion; with the aim of becoming stronger and corpulent in order to bear with more easiness the weapons and cuirasses that the army used at that time. That experience almost ominous, brought with it the dark coats, as well as morphological features such as convex and sheep-like head outlines, long backs, split hindquarters, short and hairy fetlock joints. Even so, it still coincides our breed of horses with that one described 2000 years ago by Virgilio, Colmena or Marron

"...tall and slender head, flexible and wide croup, muscular breast and dense mane."

In addition to its external morphology, the Spanish Horse displays a quality, which does not equal another breed, it is noble, it is also strong, resistant and vigorous, and in it prevails meekness, which makes it manageable and safe even for a child.

The Andalusian Horse is above all beauty in lasting exhibition, the whole of its qualities make them suitable for harnessing, the dressage with all its variants as well as fit for accomplishing agricultural works. Its trot in time, its majesty, its grace, not only served to man's sweat with land but also besides he takes them for a walk, shows off them as nobody in firs and pilgrimages which appear with flowers and end in the green table olive.

Like Villaespesa poetry says, "our horse is worth having wings for its bravery and beauty to be shown off in the quadriga of the divine Apollo".