Andalucian Horse

Andalucian Horse

After almost eight centuries of domination by the Arabs the legacy they left Spain consists not only of some beautiful words such as algibes, almenas, alcazares that flow from the mouth like water emanating from the fountains in Arabic houses and palaces, they also left one of the most precious treasures of all, the Andalusian (or Spanish) horse, a strong tempered, yet sensitive, obedient and very beautiful animal.

The origins of the Andalusian haven't been accurately determined.

However, we have enough evidence to trace the origin of the Carthusian thoroughbred Spanish horses which are unique in the world. In the 15th century a Carthusian Monastery was founded 5 km from Jerez, Andalusia. The monks started to breed horses with splendid studs, achieving ideal crossings and treating the horses with utmost care. The result was the world famous Carthusian, the essence of today's Andalusian horse.

Without their consent, these brave horses always involved in the wars of the turbulent Spanish history. They were first involved in the reconquest of Spain's Arabs territories and in the Conquest of America; then they fought in the European wars, which gained them renown throughout the continent. La Guerniere, the horseman in France, used to say the Spanish horses are the best for riding, taming and training and the most appropriate to be ridden by a King on a victorious day.

The Andalusian horse, which weighs approximately 500 kg and is 1'60 m. tall, has balanced and harmonious movements. It is docile but not submissive. It is ferocious but elegant; strong but majestic. O wonder professionals, enthusiasts and observers have an enduring fascination with this horse.

Riding means getting into the countryside on a horse, an animal which, unlike man, was never cast from paradise.

In search of this close link with nature, an increasing number of people visit one of the firms which specialise in organising horse rides. In fact, Andalusia is one of the most fascinating places to take a ride in the country. The weather, with warm temperatures even in winter, makes it enjoyable to explore the different landscapes and varied environments. Among them is Donana, a National Park in Heulva, which has pine, eucalyptus and cork oak forests as well as the most important marsh area in Europe. Thousands of birds, such as geese and flamingos, come from Europe every winter to nest in Donana, which is swarming with life and colour during the entire season.

Another possibility is riding in the Romeria, where hundreds of people in their traditional dresses, horsemen and women, go on a pilgrimage to El Rocio.

Special training underlines the magnificent elegance of the Spanish horse. This is especially evident in the Royal Riding School in Jerez, whose president since 1973 has been King Juan Carlos. The aim of the school is to preserve and improve the thoroughbred Spanish horse and also to transmit the typical artistic training which is surprisingly rich and expressive. To experience this, you only have to attend the show offered by the school every week. "Como bailan los caballos andaluces" is a symphony of movements, a choreography of classical and cowboy training where horsemen are dressed as in the 17th century and horses dance to the soundtrack played by the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra of London under the direct of Luis Cobos.

This display of harmony and colour shows that the Andalusian horses are not only capable of doing the most difficult balancing exercises, but also of dancing to the sound of the music revealing an exquisite combination of strong character and sensitivity in every movement.

This article was first published in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Magazine.

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