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The Spanish Andalusian
Breed Information and Characteristics

Andalusian Characteristics:

  • Straight profile
  • Broad forehead
  • Large eyes
  • Long, thick neck
  • Well crested neck
  • Low set tail
  • Short, strong body
  • Broad chest
  • Broad Hindquarters
  • Clean-cut, elegant legs
  • Long, sloping shoulders
  • Abundant mane & tail

Andalusian foals are born dark and lighten with age. This is "Guapo" as a weanling with a dark hair coat.
Here is the same horse, "Guapo",
at 2 years of age. His coat may lighten even more with age.
Above photos courtesy of Grand Review Farm.


The Andalusian has a showy, rhythmical walk, a high-stepping trot and a smooth, rocking canter. The Andalusian is strongly built, yet extremely elegant.


The average Andalusian stands 15.2 to 16.2 hands. About 80% of Andalusians are gray or white, 15% are bay, and 5% are black. Andalusian foals are born black or dark brown and turn gray or white with age.


The Andalusian originates in Southern Spain, back to the 15th century. Carthusian monks bred them in monasteries in Seville and Jerez.

The Andalusian was influenced by horses of invading armies, the result of crossing native mares with Barb stallions. The Barbs were brought in during the Moorish dominance of Spain, where selective breeding was done by the Carthusian Monks in the 15th century. The battle to ensure the breed's purity and survival was very dramatic. In time, they created 3 herds of 100% pure oriental blood. There was NO Arab or any other foreign blood used in the development of the Andalusian.


There are nearly 3,000 Andalusian horses in the United States. The Andalusian is one of the rarest breeds in the United States. Nearly half of the Andalusian population is in California (900) and Texas (450). The other 48 states have less than 100 Andalusians each. This is why many Americans have never seen an Andalusian. The andalusian is rare not only in the United States, but worldwide. There are less than 20,000 Andalusians in the entire world.

Why is the Andalusian so rare?

The Andalusian's conformation is very strong: arched neck, short-coupled, powerful body, strong hock action and impulsion. These characteristics of strength, natural collection, courageous, impulsion, agility and kind temperament were requirements of any war horse. The Andalusian was used as a war horse, to carry heavily armored knights into battle and was very popular in mounted armies.

As a result of their superior conformation and temperament, most Andalusians were killed off in the wars starting in 1492. Napoleon invaded Spain and conquered or killed a majority of the Andalusian war horses. The breed was then threatened with extinction, with only one pure spanish herd left.

The Andalusian Name:

In 1912, the Spanish Breeder's Association started using the name "Pura Raza Espanol" which means "the pure Spanish breed". In the Unites States and most other countries, this breed is known as the "Andalusian". The term Andalusian came from a region in Spain, Andalucia, where many noted stud farms are located.


The Andalusian is gaining popularity rapidly. The Andalusian was originally bred to be a cavalry horse and for high-school riding. In Spain, the Andalusian is used in bullrings and spanish fesivals. The agility and wonderful paces of this breed made it perfect for the demands of the "Rejoneadoes" (mounted bullfighters). In the United States, the Andalusian is gaining popularity in dressage and show jumping.


The Andalusian has influenced many, many breeds around the world.

The Hanoverian descended from Andalusians, Holsteiners, Thoroughbreds and Cleveland Bays. Holsteiners came from Spanish, Barb and Neapolitan blood. Lipizzans were descendants of 24 Andalusian mares brought by Archduke Charles II of Austria in 1580; the Andalusian's lines were very important in this breed. The Lusitano was founded on Andalusian stock and is very similar to the Andalusian.

The Mustang descended from Andalusians and Barbs brought to North America by the first Spanish settlers. Columbus brought Andalusians and Barbs to Santo Domingo on his second voyage along with Spanish Jennets, which influenced the Paso Fino. The Peruvian Horse was descended by Andalusians, Barbs and Spanish Jennets brought to South America by the Spanish Conquistadores.

The Quarter Horse was descended from Mustangs (which were descendants of Andalusians). The Alter-Real horses are directly descended from Andalusians and carry most of the Andalusian's characteristics. The Criollo descended from Andalusians and Barbs in the 16th century. The first Kladruber horses came from Emperor Maximillian II, who imported Andalusians during the 1570's.

Infante T
"Infante T" from Grand Review Farm.
The breed is gaining popularity in:
  • Dressage
  • Show Jumping
Many Cross-bred Andalusians are
gaining popularity in:
  • Western Events (reining, roping, etc)
  • Trail
  • Dressage
  • Show Jumping

Interesting Facts:
  • The Andalusian was the most popular mount for kings and royal horsemen.
  • The breed is gaining popularity in other countries for their athleticism.
  • The Andalusian is one of the most ancient of horse breeds. Cave paintings of the Andalusian date back 25,000 years.
  • There are few Andalusians left compared to how many there once was. Most are still in Spain.
  • The Andalusian was very popular as a foundation breed.
  • Most popular horse used for paintings by the European monarchs because of the long, flowing mane and tail, and its' symmetry and elegance.
  • The Andalusian horse today displays an amazing versatility, which has been present for centuries.
  • The breed was favored in wars for its courage and bravery. Even today, the breed still possesses those attributes proven when it faces the fierce bull in Spain.
  • In the United States, the Andalusian competes in dressage, jumping, driving, Western pleasure and competition, and English pleasure and competition.
  • The Andalusian is also known for its ability to learn quickly and retain what it has learned.

All content on this website is Copyrighted © 1997-2002, Cheryl McNamee-Sutor,
unless otherwise noted on individual pages or images on this site. All Rights Reserved.
This article was published in: 1997. Last updated in: 1997