The P.R.E. Horse
Focus on: The Andalusian, a Spanish breed of horses.
by: Barbara Clark
You have seen them at the movies and probably didn't know what they were; just that they were the most beautiful horses you have ever seen. They have long flowing hair and come in all colors but are mostly gray or white. They have been bred for centuries to bond with, understand and please humans. They were the horses that were reserved for use by kings, queens, and elite government officials to make them look impressive and important. When you ride one you immediately get the sensation that you are royalty and their smooth regular gaits are like sitting on your couch. In fact they are so special you should not look at them for very long without the protection of sunglasses. They look like a dream, they ride like a dream, they act like a dream and you will never want wake up. Just being near them is a thrill. (OK, now you understand how much we really love these horses).
The origin and history of these beautiful creatures has a direct correlation to how they became what they are today. When you learn about this breed you are also learning about the history and culture that developed them.
The P.R.E (Pura Raza Espanola) or Pure Spanish Horse has its origins buried deep in the geography and history of Spain. There are drawings dating back to 5,000BC found in the caves of Altamira and Canforos de Penarubia in northeastern Spain depicting native horses whose body types are remarkably like today’s horse. The horses of this beautiful country were most certainly the foundation for the horse as it is today. The Pure Spanish Horse was unified as a breed at the time King Felipe II of Spain formally started his royal breeding program in the city of Cordoba in 1567. He sought to produce the universally idealized horse and selected the best horses bred in Spain to start the program and establish the breed standards. Since this initial time the Pure Spanish Horse has been under the control of the Spanish government and has remained pure to this day.
Every Pure Spanish Horse today has a passport issued by the Spanish Ministry of Defense that signifies the animal has passed the physical examinations and genetic testing required to be admitted to the Spanish stud book. These are the only horses that can be correctly called Andalusian or Pure Spanish. Horses with this passport can trace their lineage back through time to the start of the breed in the sixteen hundreds. There are only about four thousand Pure Spanish Horses in the United States at this time.
King Felipe’s breeding program is evidenced by the spectacular animal that has become the Pure Spanish Horse today. Their beauty is breathtaking, with the characteristic full long mane and tail, beautiful deep intelligent eye and round shape; and full body.
The P.R.E. horse is becoming very popular today with modern riders for the same reason it was popular with horseman in the past; because of its beauty, athleticism and ability to bond with its human partners. Many times people see an Andalusian and think that they are a spirited horse that is difficult to train and control but in fact quite the opposite is true. They are very easy to train and almost have a dog-like desire to please their riders. Just ask anyone who is lucky enough to have a Pure Spanish Horse, and they will be happy to tell you about their built in sense of desire to be with and obey their less than perfect human companion.
The P.R.E. has been used in the past in times of war, as a ranch horse to move cattle, to transport and safeguard dignitaries, to fight bulls, to pull carriages, and to perform the very difficult high school movements. In modern times they are used in sports such as dressage, cutting, reining, endurance, combined driving, and open jumping just to name a few. Because of their bravery they make wonderful trail mounts, and are enjoyed by people of all ages because of their gentle temperament and smooth gaits. If you ask someone who owns a P.R.E horse they will probably tell you that they are special and unlike other breeds because of the companionship that they provide. They will become your best and most trusted friend.
The Pure Spanish Horse has always been a favorite subject of artists and can be seen in many paintings in the world’s most famous museums. There have also been many books written about this horse, because of its’ influence on the history of the country that produced it.
About the Author
Barbara Clark is the Executive Director of The Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse. She has worked for The Foundation for three years and has been breeding P.R.E. horses for almost 30 years. Barbara is a dressage rider and enthusiast. She was also the first female commercial pilot to fly for an airline in the U.S.A. The Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse seeks to safeguard, defend and protect the Pure Spanish Horse, as well as its breeders, owners and members. A nonprofit, it places the needs, protection and promotion of the breed before any other interests. The Foundation produces a magazine devoted to the breed and hosts events that include shows, educational clinics and seminars. To learn more, please visit their website.