The Andalusian - Horse breeds, horse breeding and types of horse.   
[Index of Horse Breeds] [Equiworld Horse Magazine]

The Andalusian horse



Muscular in build, the overall picture of the Andalusian is a horse of great beauty and balance. Typically he stands between 15 and 16.2 hands. Gray and bay coats are dominant and others are admissible in Andalusian Horse Associations. In Spain, only grey, bay and black are accepted by the studbook -- no chestnuts or other-colored horses.


Large, with a straight or subconvex profile. The forehead is very wide with large dark eyes. Nostrils are large; ears are medium, well placed, separated and very mobile; jaw is ample and muscled, with a generous and discrete arch at the edge.

The neck is proportionate and well tied in. It is elegant, though heavy, with an abundant mane. The throatlatch is clean; the crest is well developed.


The withers are very round and ideally the shoulders should be long and sloping. The back is strong and short coupled; the chest is broad and strong; the croup is rounded; the tail is set low, lies close to the body, and is abundant and long; and ideally, the hind quarters are strong and lean.

The legs are strong and clean cut. They have straight, flat bones and large joints. The cannons are short; pasterns sloping and of good size, and the hooves are round, compact and sturdy.


Movement is agile, elevated, extended, harmonious and cadenced. The Andalusian is perfectly suited for dressage and "airs above the ground", war horse, bullfighter's horse or western cattle horse. He is fiery and proud, but at the same time docile and tractable. He is showy, elegant, strong and bold. His walk is showy, trot is high-stepping and impulsive, and his canter is smooth and spectacular.


These are horses with easy response to command and very sensitive mouths, resulting in a mount that is obedient and of extraordinary comfort. They are temperate and hardy; noble and docile. They learn rapidly and participate intimately with their riders.



Although there is much speculation regarding which is the most ancient horse breed, it is clear that the Spanish horse was the first to be handled and ridden by men. Cave paintings in the Iberian Peninsula, dated at approximately 5,000 BC, show horses being led by men.

The Andalusian is one of the three foundation breeds of modern horses, and eighty percent of all modern breeds trace at least part of their breeding to the Andalusian. His influence is especially noted in the Lipizzan, Friesian, Connemara, Cleveland Bay, Welsh Cob, and most American breeds.

His forefathers were the native Spanish horse, the Sorraia Pony (descendant of the Asian Wild Horse and the Tarpan) and the Barb. He, along with his brother breed the Lusitano, evolved in Spain during the Muslim occupation between 711 and 1492, although his prototype was depicted in cave paintings dating from 20,000 to 30,000 BC. He was the premier war horse, preferred not only by Spanish conquistadors, but also by Julius Caesar, Hannibal and Richard I. horse

In the 1700's, the Andalusian fell from grace when sleeker horses used for hunting and racing became the fad. A plague, followed by famine, almost wiped out what was left of the breed. Fortunately, the Carthugian Monastery, in a mountainous area of Spain, continued to breed quality horses, and today the most beautiful and pure of the Spanish horses are known as caballos Cartujanos.

horse Because of the rarity of the breed, the Spanish government placed an embargo on their export for over 100 years. In the 1960's, the ban was lifted, and Andalusians are once again found throughout the world.

For more information, contact the International Andalusian Horse Association.

This article was kindly provided by Michelle Staples, Staples Stables

Pictures compliments of International Andalusian Horse Brokers of Spain. For more information and pictures, including tips on "How to buy a Horse in Spain", go to



Copyright 1994 to 2024 Equiworld at Hayfield, Aberdeen, Scotland - 30 years on the web. Archived Version.