When that choice horse property in Denver, Colorado comes into your hands, consider finding yourself an Andalusian. First of all, the Andalusian has been revered throughout history for its uncanny agility as well as the courage and presence to make it a perfect fit for your Front Range ranch activites. Secondly, the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) promotes wonderful events and shows for the active Denver equestrian community. (See below.)
In modern times other breeds have taken the spotlight, though the Spanish Andalusian is one of the great, ancient breeds of horse talented with versatility, athleticism and beauty. Breeders are currently reporting seeing the trend of dressage competitors replacing their heavy Warmbloods with light, easy-to-ride Iberians and rediscovering the joy of riding. As Sanchez Barbudo says in the Libro de Meritos del Pura Raza Espanol, "It is no exaggeration to say that the Spanish Pure Bred can be ridden with the only aid being the rider's imagination.” Many people are not aware of the breed’s origin in the Iberian Peninsula where it is praised in writings, cave drawings and sculpture dating back more than 20,000 years. The Andalusian comes from modern Spain and the Lusitano from Portugal—with practically identical origins in Iberia.
Bred for the agility and collected gait required for hand-to-hand combat on horseback, the Iberian horses had the ability to gather the hind legs under the fore, falling back on their hocks and raising the forehand, so that the belly can be seen from the front. This ability, which we now call “collection”, was impressive, allowing warhorses to stop and turn quickly in any direction. The Romans were so impressed by the Iberian Celts using them during battle that they set up breeding stations for their legions in modern Andalusia. Both the Greek and Roman literature refers to the Iberian Celts as superb horsemen and to their horses as exceptional.
The natural development of the maneuvers of war into the peacetime art form of dressage once again put the Andalusian on center stage. In the Baroque Era, classical haught ecole riding was considered an art form, similar to classical symphony or ballet. During this time of refinement, elegance and majesty, the Andalusian was the horse of choice and the best for dressage, due to its agility, its resilience and its rhythm. It is considered the most adequate to show off, because of its bravery, distinction, and noble character.
English nobles used the Andalusian agility and quickness to create a new breed called the English Thoroughbred. This type of demand to use the Andalusian for the improvement of other breeds drained the numbers of purebreds available, even in the Iberian Peninsula. As Spain and Portugal established far-reaching overseas holdings, more and more horses were exported to the New World. Most European and American breeds can trace part of their origin to the Andalusian.
The purebred might have slipped away completely if it had not been for the deeply ingrained traditions and dedicated horsemen in Spain and Portugal. Using the oldest definition of the breed from the Iberian Peninsula, the IALHA standards recall the traditional characteristics of the breed. The Association maintains a registry, publishes a magazine, provides shows and promotes their unique qualities to the world. Right here in America we are reaping that dedication.
So join the trend and play your role. Dance with your horse at the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, Denver, Colorado; www.nationalwestern.com or the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo: Trade Show and Exhibitions; Denver, Colorado, Durango Colorado, and Grand Junction, Colorado; www.rockymountainhorseexpo.com, or at the IALHA 2006 National Championship Horse Show. See www.ialha.org for a complete calendar.
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