Spanish Horse Breeds

The Andalusian

The beautiful and intelligent Andalusian oozes quality and great presence. It is most likely one of the purest and oldest breeds or strains in the world.

It and its relatives, the Alter Real, the Castilian, the Lusitano and others, are exactly the type of horse depicted in Iberian prehistoric cave art.

There are two stud books for what the Western world knows as the Andalusian. The purebred Lusitano or the Puro Sangue Lusitano (PSL) is registered in the Portuguese Stud Book while the Pura Raza Espanola (PRE) is registered in the Spanish Stud Book and known in Spain and Portugal as the Andalusian.

Andalusian HeadCredit:

Typical Spanish or Iberian type horses were high-headed with convex profiles, a compact strong build and high action combined with presence and a gentle nature.

It has symmetry, brilliant active paces and elegant good looks. These qualities ensured it was the first choice of mount for European monarchs when having equestrian portraits painted. The older type Andalusian has a rounded outline and powerful quarters making it eminently suitable for haute ecole training. More modern day Andalusians are likely to have infusions of thoroughbred blood to add height and refinement.


It is an athletic and balanced horse, full of courage and spirit. Its pride and energy is tempered with a docility and affection towards people. It stands from 15hh to 16hh and may be grey, bay, black, chestnut or roan. It has a handsome head with a straight or convex profile, the ears are small with the tips facing outwards. The large eyes are expressive and kindly. The arched neck is long, deep and elegant. It is well set on both to the shoulders and to the head, making collection easy. The body is short and strong. The back is straight and short, the quarters rounded, the tail is low set, thick and wavy. The chest is broad and deep with well sprung ribs. The shoulders are muscled and sloping. The legs are strong with broad joints, cannons and pasterns are long and the hoof well-formed. The mane and tail are luxuriant and often wavy. Tails often sweep the ground.

It is most likely that the Andalusian descends from the Barbs and Arabs introduced into Spain during the Moorish invasion of the 8th century. These were crossed repeatedly with native breeds such as the Ginete, especially ponies such as the Garrano and the more primitive Sorraia.

From the 12th to the 17th century the Andalusian dominated horse breeding in Spain, its only rival being the Arab. Either directly or through the Neapolitan horse, itself a descendent of the Andalusian, it has influenced most European breeds. It was shipped to America on Christopher Columbus' second expedition and has contributed to the development of almost all American breeds. The most important European breeds to have been influenced are the Lipizzaner, the Friesian, Hackney, Kladruber, Frederiksborg, Oldenburg, and Holstein. Of the American breeds the Quarter Horse and Criollo have been most heavily influenced.

Systematic breeding of the Andalusian began in 1571 when Philip II of Spain founded the royal stables at Cordoba. The breed was greatly admired in the past for its elegant gait which included the paso de andatura, a high stepping movement very effective in parades. It has a showy rhythmic walk and smooth rocking canter. The trot is high-stepping. Its agility makes it an ideal mount for Spain's national sport of bull-fighting. Its flamboyant paces also make it a natural choice for haute ecole. When crossed with a thoroughbred, the result is a good all-round competition horse.


It is mainly used for display purposes and bull fighting. The agility and power of the breed suit it to the intricate movements needed in the bull-ring.