The Iberian horse curiously is not a breed of horse, rather it is the name given to a group of 17 different “breeds” of horse or originating on the Iberian peninsula. The Iberian Peninsula is situated on the most southern part of Spain just north of Africa.
The 17 breeds can be divided into two groups – those bred on the Portuguese part of the peninsula, the Lusitano Horses(the Garrano, Lusitano and Sorraia) in those bred on the Spanish side, the Andalusian Horses. (the Asturcón, Burguete, Caballo de Monte del País Vasco, Cavall Mallorquí, Hispano-Arabe, Hispano-Bretón, Jaca Navarra, Losina, Mallorquina, Menorquina, Monchina, Pottoka, Pura Raza Gallega, and the Pura Raza Española.)
Though the 17 “breeds” have their own name and stud books they are not really sufficiently different in terms of DNA to be classed as different breeds, rather they could be classified as different types of the same breed.
They are an incredibly ancient horse perhaps the earliest known domesticated horse with evidence that the have been used as a riding horse as far back as 5000 CE.
It’s likely though initially bred as general purpose riding horses and though much smaller in size than they are today. Later they would have been crossed with larger breeds of horse as they were developed into both a warhorse and farm workforce. In the Middle Ages they were bred as cavalry remounts and to transport weapons to the front line.
There are slight differences in the characteristics of each breed clever all Iberian horses are large powerful horses are mains and sales are most often cream brown grey or mottled standing hundred and 5260 cm high at the Withers. The body is muscular and broad in their head is angular.
The DNA has proved to be extremely prepotent and if you DNA test any horse today for out of five will be shown to be descended from the Iberian horse. For example the thoroughbred is a descendant of the Iberian horse, as is the Lippizan, Cleveland Bay, Hackney, Freisian and many other breeds.
In the US some of their most famous breeds show a clear Iberian influence and DNA testing has proven they are ancestors to the modern day Paint Horses, Quarter Horses, all the gaited breeds… even the wild mustang horses.
As with many horses that were bred primarily is medium heavy cavalry remounts they have made the transition from horse capable of carrying an armored soldier over difficult terrain, into a sporting horse that is brave sound of limb highly intelligent fast and athletic.
They make wonderful dressage horses but it is when crossed with the thoroughbred that they truly shine as a showjumping horse. Here in Australia the thoroughbred and Andalusian horse continues to be a most favourite and popular eventing jumping onto horse.
In Australia there are many breeders of Iberian horses, with the focus being on Andalusians, and Andalusian cross thoroughbreds.
Australia has both an Andalusian Horse Association http://www.ahaa.org.au/ and a Lusitano Association http://www.lusitano.com.au/