The Andalusian is a particularly striking breed of horse, easily recognizable by its elegant build and luxurious mane and tail. They were a status symbol in Spain among aristocrats and the upper class, as well as being the preferred horse for warriors.
It was Carthusian monks from the Iberian peninsula who originally helped to develop the breed to the standard we recognize today. Over the years, Andalusians came close to extinction but luckily made their way back from the edge.
These days, the breed thrives and is revered for its beauty, fluid gait, and kind temperament.
- Andalusian Horse
- Andalusian Horse Characteristics
- Andalusian Horse Size
- Andalusian Horse Weight
- Andalusian Horse Colors
- Andalusian Horse Temperament
- Andalusian Horse Care
- Andalusian Horse Diet and Nutrition
- Andalusian Horse Health Issues
- Andalusian Horse Grooming
- Andalusian Horse History
- Andalusian Horse Origin
- Andalusian Horse Historic Development
- Notable Andalusian Horses
- Andalusian Horse Myths and Legends
- Modern Andalusian Horses
- Andalusian Horse Breeding
- Andalusian Horse Population
- Frequently Asked Questions
Andalusian Horse Characteristics
The Andalusian is a breed that is striking in its appearance. They have a head featuring large, intelligent eyes, and a neck that arches into their elegantly sloping shoulder. They also have straight legs with no feathers and muscular hindquarters. This breed has a flowing mane and tail, too. Andalusians are easily recognizable by a rounded neck, shoulder, and hindquarters which come together to create a baroque image and silhouette. Read on to learn more about some of the Andalusian’s distinguishing characteristics.
Andalusian Horse Size
There are very strict and specific rules about Andalusian horse size, as per the breed registry. Mares of this breed are required to be at least 14.3 hands tall. Stallions, as well as geldings, must be at least 25 hands high or taller. If an Andalusian horse is shorter than this, then it cannot be registered. Having a strict height requirement such as this is a way for the registry to maintain the integrity of Andalusian horses as a breed. Most of these horses are between 15.2 and 16.2 hands tall. They were originally bred to carry knights in their full suits of armor, which is why they are taller than some other breeds of horses.
Andalusian Horse Weight
The average weight for an Andalusian horse is about 1100 pounds for geldings and stallions.
Mares, however, clock in closer to 900 pounds in weight on average. The weight of an Andalusian horse is consistent and proportionate to its height, largely due to the breed regulations that are in place. This breed of horse has a solid bone structure, which means that they have big bones that can support not only the weight of the horse, but the weight of a rider— and one decked out in full armor, no less.
Even with this large, solid bone structure, the Andalusian is an elegant breed. Young horses appear as miniatures of the adults as well, because they are able to carry their weight evenly.
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Andalusian Horse Colors
Now we come to the beautiful colors of the Andalusian. In the case of many breeds of horses, their coat colors or variations can be an easy way to identify them. The Andalusian is most often seen in shades of gray or bay, but it can be seen in almost any other color under the sun! All of the colors of an Andalusian are accepted by the breed registry.
There can even be different coat variations for Andalusians, such as spotted coat patterns. In addition, there are some rare colors of Andalusian that can occur such as buckskin and cremello. Some Andalusians may have white markings, and this is also where we see the spotted coats occur. This is due to the genes that allow for gray horses. While the Andalusian can technically come in any color, as mentioned above, it is estimated that 80% of the horses of this breed either appear in shades of gray and white.
Andalusian Horse Temperament
The temperament of a horse is always an important characteristic to take into consideration. This breed of horse has a kind, docile temperament. However, they can also be a proud breed. It was important, while the breed was being developed, for them to be a calm and cool-headed horses because of their use for warfare. Of course, knights and the elite class wanted a horse that was lovely to look at, too, so with the Andalusian, we got this combination of looks and a mellow personality. The breed is also known to be quick learners, in addition to being quiet, distinguished, and docile.
This makes them easy to train and very versatile or adaptable. Riders love Andalusians because they are so kind and intelligent, and make great equine partners.
Andalusian Horse Care
When it comes to the care of a horse, this is something you should be aware of as well before purchasing a horse from this breed. All horses have specific requirements for diet, nutrition, and grooming— you will want to be sure that you can deliver this, as the breed reqires, so that your horse is happy and healthy. If your Andalusian is properly cared for, then it can live an average of 25 years. Below, we will discuss some of the care requirements of this breed.
Andalusian Horse Diet and Nutrition
Forage, which is typically shown in the form of hay or grass, should make up most of your Andalusian horse’s diet. Andalusians are considered to be easy keepers, meaning that they gain weight easily when on high quality forage. Mature Andalusians, in most cases, will only need minimal amounts of grain. However, foals, young horses, those who do heavy work, and the senior horses of the breed typically have different requirements. Your Andalusian horse needs to be fed low starch and low sugar grains, when given grains in the first place. The Andalusians who are on a mostly forage diet will still need certain vitamins and minerals, and should also get a ration balancer. In additon, you should make sure your Andalusian has access to plenty of fresh water and a salt block, too.
Andalusian Horse Health Issues
One of the most common health issues in the Andalusian breed is linked to diet, which is why paying attention to their nutrition is key. Unfortunately, this is a breed that is susceptible to metabolic disorders. In order to prevent these, it is important to manage your horse’s weight— you can do this by keeping them active, avoiding overfeeding them, and choosing products that are low sugar or low starch— or, ideally, both!
A secondary effect that Andalusians suffer from is Laminitis, which can also be caused by other health issues. The breed is susceptible to ischaemic disease, too, and stallions have a higher chance of getting inguinal hernias. Another health problem that can crop up with Andalusians is bumps behind the ears, which resemble horns, and warts beneath the tail. When this happens, it is typically in horses from the Carthusian line, and especially those who can trace their ancestry back to the stallion known as Esclavo.
Andalusian Horse Grooming
It is very important for your horse’s health, as well as your bond with the horse, to groom them regularly. Andalusians must be groomed daily in order to keep the horse’s coat healthy and shiny. You should also be sure to clean their hoofs daily.
This gives you an opportunity to check your horse over to make sure there are no injuries that need to be treated as well. One of the main parts of Andalusian grooming is caring for the horse’s thick mane and tail. This requires cleaning and conditioning, in addition to brushing and detangling. Often, owners of Andalusians will braid their horse’s hair to avoid hair breaking, and to minimize the number of hairs that are breaking.
Andalusian Horse History
The history of the Andalusian breed is closely linked to the Lusitano horse, as well as the history of Spain. Andalusians are not always called Andalusians— they are also referred to by other names, such as the Pure Spanish horse and the Iberian horse.
The breed became connected to the royal family of Spain, as well as lower nobility, in the Middle Ages. They were also used to influence other horse breeds, like the Lipizzaner.
Andalusian Horse Origin
Around 25,000 years ago, there were horses wandering the Iberian peninsula. They remained in this area and the Carthusian Monks started to breed them in the Middle Ages. Due to this intentional breeding, a specific look and type began to develop.
This is what we recognize today as the Andalusian and Lusitano horses. The breed was originally used in the fields and as transportation, but as the breed was bred further, they then started to become associated with royalty. The use of these horses then shifted to war horses and bullfighting. These days, the Andalusian horse can thank its status symbol as the horse of knights and kings for its continued breeding and its current bloodlines.
Andalusian Horse Historic Development
During a lot of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Andalusian was a breed that was protected by the Carthusian Monks, as well as the church and the royal family that bred them. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the breed faced many threats and was almost driven to extinction.
Some of these threats were when the church, who protected the horses, was threatened. Andalusian horses were also stolen. The royal families in Spain that prized Andalusians began to weaken, and then, on top of all of this, the breed was replaced as war horses!
A virus also swept through the country, and this a virus affected the equine population and unfortunately helped to decimate the Andalusian breed. Many surviving Andalusians were exported in order to improve other breeds. However, the breed registry set up strict guidelines to protect the breed, and exports were only allowed once the population had stabilized again.
Notable Andalusian Horses
The Andalusian breed is one that had a high status over the years, especially because the horses were a symbol of royalty. What better recommendation is there? There are many famous Andalusian horses, even in more modern times, too. Some famous horses of this breed include dressage stars, war horses, and movie stars or actors. In addition, there are many works of art that celebrate the elegance and beauty of this breed. Below in the article, we will go over some of the famous Andalusian horses you may recognize!
Babieca was a famous Andalusian who lived many, many years ago. This horse was the mount of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, or El Cid (1043 to 1099). When El Cid was a boy, he chose Babieca, who was then a gray foal. They became fierce warriors and partners together, with a strong and unbreakable bond. In fact, Babieca carried his rider into battle for 30 years, which is nothing short of amazing! Both horse and rider have their own tombs and bronze statues memorializing them forever, even in death.
Evento is another famous Andalusian breed horse. Evento is a gray horse that was ridden in dressage competitions. He was ridden by Ignacio Rambla Algarin in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and competed in dressage here as well. The two represented Spain here at the Olympics and placed 11th individually. This is largely credited for being what made the Andalusian breed so popular in the dressage world and in dressage events. It also helped to launch dressage and skyrocket its popularity as an event in Spain. Evento’s son also went on to compete in dressage, carrying on the tradition— he was known by his name as Distuinguido.
Florian was the name of our third famous Andalusian horse. This particular Andalusian was an actor and movie star! You very likely saw Florian on the screen. Florian was a horse in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and played Arwen’s horse, Asfaloth.
The stunt double for Liv Tyler, who played Arwen, was named Jane. Jane loved Florian so much that Viggo Mortenson, who played Aragorn, ended up purchasing Florian for her after filming wrapped! We hope that Florian lived out many happy years with Jane after his Lord of the Rings role. Gandalf’s horse was also played by Andalusian horses named Demero and Blanco.
Andalusian Horse Myths and Legends
The Andalusian has a history that is connected to royalty and to wars, and this rich history means that there are some legends and stories connected to the breed, which the Andalusians has collected over the years. Their roles and their history has made them a large part of the history of the country of Spain, as well as part of the equestrian legend. We will go over some of these special stories and myths further on in the article.
The Original War Horse
War horses were made famous by Steven Spielberg and his movie, but Andalusians have a real history of being war horses! They are, in fact, the original warhorse. Many greats rode Andalusians into battle. These include William the Conqueror, El Cid, and Hannibal. The popularity of this breed as a war horse also led to them becoming a status symbol. Not only were they ridden by knights and other great warriors, but they were used by royalty, too. This, and their popularity as war horses as well, led to King Phillip II’s founding of the Royal Stables of Cordoba in 1567.
El Cid Was Dead During his Last Battle with Babieca
El Cid was a great warrior who rode an Andalusian, Babieca, into battle for 30 years. Babieca was a fearless war horse that El Cid had since he was a foal and El Cid was only a boy! Legend says that El Cid actually died in their last battle together. His troops thought the enemy would be more confident if they did not see El Cid on the battlefield, so they put his body back in his armor and mounted him atop his horse! They then rode back into battle and were led by his Andaluz caballo to save Valencia.
Napoleon Stole the Breed
Another story or myth about the Andalusian breed has to do with Napoleon. And, unfortunately, there is truth in this legend. Napoleon invaded Spain with the French army during his Napoleonic Wars, during which he stole many of the Spanish Andalusian horses. He and his army took the horses back to France. One of the only reasons that the breed was able to survive this— and survive this in the country of Spain from which they hailed— is because a herd of Andalusians was hidden and then used by the Spanish later to help restart the breed.
Modern Andalusian Horses
The Andalusian breed ran into some struggles, but luckily, the last 50 years have been much kinder to them! There are different types of Andalusians, and the Carthusian is the closest to the original of these horses.
Andalusian Horse Breeding
Most breeding of Andalusians occurs in Spain and Europe to this day. They have gained popularity across the globe, though, so there are Andalusian breeders all over the world. One of the most popular is the Carthusian strain of the Andalusian horse, as these are descended from the original Andalusians that were bred by the monks. Most of these horses can be traced back to the horse Esclavo.
Andalusian Horse Population
Once upon a time, the Andalusian breed was almost extinct. The population has increased and seen a rebound, but this is still considered to be a rare breed. The government in Spain was able to save the Andalusian breed by halting all exports of the horses until the breed was able to stabilize again. These days, there are 60,000 registered Andalusians over the world. About 11,000 of these horses are in the United States, in addition to 9,500 half-Andalusians there.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about an Andalusian horse?
The Andalusian horse is a breed of horse that is well known for its body type— it is a horse with an elegant, yet strong build, as well as a long, thick, luxurious mane and tail. All of this contributes to what people believe is a noble appearance. Another characteristic of Andalusians is that they are one of the breeds that have exhibited the most colors of coat. Today, though, the most common of these coat colors are bay and gray. We can also see black, chestnut, dun, and palomino.
Is an Andalusian a hot-blooded horse?
There are different kinds of horses with different characteristics. Hot-blooded horses are known to be sharp-witted and intelligent, with the main characteristics of stamina and speed. They are also quick learners and can be very adaptable. Cold-blooded horses, on the other hand, have a more mellow and calm temperament. Many draft horses are cold-blooded horses. There are also breeds of horses that are called warm-blooded. These horses are a mix of hot-blooded and cold-blooded horse bloodlines. When it comes to the Andalusian breed of horse, is a hot-blooded breed.
What are Andalusian horses like to ride?
Andalusian horses are known for being spirited horses, as they are a hot-blooded breed, after all! This is something to be aware of if you are going to ride an Andalusian. That being said, Andalusian horses are also very gentle and reliable. They are obedient and docile when ridden, which many equestrians value. This makes them a good horse for riders of all levels, even beginner equestrians— which you may not believe of a hot-blooded breed. Andalusians have many good qualities that make riding them a breeze!
Are Andalusian horses rare?
The Andalusian is certainly not the most common breed of horse— that is a distinction that belongs to the American Quarter Horse, which can be found across the globe and is the most populous of all horse breeds. The Andalusian breed, though, used to be an endangered breed. Luckily, numbers are steadily growing and there are about 200,000 of these horses all over the world. In the United States, the breed is still relatively hard to come by. It is estimated that there are only about 8,500 of these horses in the states, and only around 700 purebred foals are registered every year.