The Andalusian, also known as the Pure Spanish Horse (Pura Raza Española or PRE) is descended from the Iberian horses of Spain and Portugal. The breed originated during the Renaissance when horse activities were popular and equitation was practiced by aristocrats, who demanded a horse that was beautiful and agile.
In the 16th century, the Andalusian became the basis of many North American breeds when Spanish conquistadores brought the horses over to the Americas with them to use as war horses and breeding stock. Their bloodlines heavily influenced modern breeds including the Mustang, Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, Paso Fino, Peruvian Paso, Morgan, Lipizzan and Friesian. All living Andalusians trace back to a select number of horses bred by monks in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Despite their popularity, their numbers diminished when a lighter and smoother horse became popular for activities such as racing and hunting. Andalusians were again threatened when war, famine and a plague virtually wiped the breed out. After this, the Spanish government was forced to ban the breed’s export. This ban lasted almost 100 years, but was lifted in 1960 and now Andalusians are bred in more than sixty countries around the world.
Andalusians are famous for their beauty, with a thick mane and tail, a noble head with gentle eyes, a straight or slightly convex profile, broad neck and well-developed crest. They are strong and energetic, with cadenced and elastic paces showing elevation, extension, and collection. They are obedient yet spirited, noble and friendly animals who learn easily and adapt to diverse tasks and situations.
Andalusians are mainly gray (predominantly so in North America) or bay and stand between 15- 16.2 hands.
Still used for bullfighting today, the breed also excels in dressage, show jumping, and driving, and also for general riding. Its beauty also makes Andalusians a favourite for movie roles.
PREs have been quite successful on the world stage: at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Fuego XII and Juan Manuel Muñoz were members of the Spanish dressage team, while at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, they placed 5th overall and were joined on the team by PREs Norte and Gnidium.