Andalusian Horses originated from the Iberian Peninsula region in Spain, and ancient cave paintings of these horses indicate that this is a very old breed. They are considered to be a very unique animal, with their balance of dignity, agility, intelligence and adaptability.
Prior to the Andalusian War in the 1700s Andalusian Horses were used a great deal by royalty in Europe. However after the war this noble breed came close to extinction and it became forbidden to export them overseas. Fortunately breeding programs since that time have increased their numbers, but they are still relatively rare. These days they are frequently used for dressage, show-jumping, events and parades.
Features of the Andalusian Horse include a convex or straight head, thick mane, arched neck and flowing tail, with most horses being grey and a smaller proportion coming in bay or black. They are responsive, athletic and agile, as well as having a social and kind temperament, intelligence and ease in handling and training.
The Andalusian contributed to the development of the Florida Cracker Horse.
There are also many registered crosses of the Andalusian such as the Spanish Norman, Iberian Warmblood and the Azteca Andalusian.
The Spanish Norman is part Andalusian and part French Percheron horse. It stands 15 to 17 hands high and like the pure Andalusian comes mostly in grey but also bay or black. It is used primarily in sport.
The Iberian Warmblood was developed from the Andalusian and the Portuguese Lusitano, resulting in a horse which is powerful and graceful making it ideal for sport as well as dressage work.
The Azteca Andalusian is a cross between the Andalusian and the Mexican Azteca quarter horse. Some owners say this combination creates the ‘perfect horse’ with a wonderful temperament, and useful for just about any task and for both experienced and novice riders.
The Andalusian in Australia
The Andalusian Horse came to Australia in 1971, and is more commonly known to the general public as the “dancing horse”, thanks to spectacular displays put on by El Caballo Blanco in years gone by. Their rarity combined with their demand has led to quite a bit of registered cross-breeding. The Andalusian Horse Association of Australia (AHAA) lists several types of this breed in Australia:
This horse has a ‘curved’ well-proportioned appearance, ranges from 15.2-16.2 hands high, possesses a silky mane, clean legs and a calm nature. Its general appearance is that of a balance between nobility and agility. They perform well in riding, jumping and light-harness work.
This horse came about as a result of part-breeding. It has no height restrictions and any solid colour is acceptable. The Australian Andalusian has a slightly arched neck, and is noble yet robust in appearance. It has a calm temperament yet remains alert, its movements are energetic yet stylish and it possesses a great deal of stamina. Like the Spanish pure-bred it retains that balance between elegance and strength. In temperament this breed is kind and calm. This is an ideal horse for saddle and performance work.
This breed comes from parents of pure Iberian breed, or else a combination of parents of two different pure breeds, these being Spanish, Lusitano, and/or Iberian. The body of the Iberian is described as rounded and ‘mesomorphic’ -i.e. muscular and large-boned. This horse is described as having an arched neck and a thick mane and movement which is energetic yet fluid. The coat colour can be grey, bay, chestnut or dun, with the occasional white spot being acceptable.
The Hispano Arabe is a cross between a pure Spanish and a pure Arabian. It is medium in size and possesses poise, grace and elegance, along with agility, docility and stamina. This horse can withstand harsh conditions and is useful for racing as well as jumping, treks and dressage.
According to the AHAA these partbred horses can be of excellent quality. Some of the cross-breeding has included large ponies (resulting in a smaller horse for children to ride), Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods and Arabs. These have produced some superb sport and stock work horses, some of which have achieved many Awards in shows. There is no height restriction for these horses and any solid colour is acceptable.
At the time of writing there have been a number of insect-borne ‘arboviruses’ affecting horses in Australia as a result of recent wet weather. These result in muscle and joint soreness and nervous symptoms. An affected horse will be reluctant to walk and display stiffness, poor co-ordination, depression and tremors. If you own a horse with these symptoms it is necessary to contact the Department of Primary Industry in your State or Territory.
There are many exotic diseases which can affect horses such as Equine Influenza and rabies. The Federal Government and Animal Heath Australia are working together to co-ordinate quick responses to the presence of these diseases.