The Andalusian Horse: What Makes Them Special?

Spring Wood Farm Andalusian Horse at Stud For Sale

Ride Your Dream, Buy an Andalusian

Written June 8, 2013 by Marsha Heiden

The Andalusian horse is truly one of the most remarkable breeds I have ever known. Granted I raise, train, and sell them so I have a vested interest to say so. You’re intelligent so I won’t argue that I am somehow objective about the wonder of the Andalusian horse because clearly I am not. So with that in mind let me tell you how I came to purchase my first Andalusian.

I rate myself as a knowledgeable horse person, decent rider, and trainer. In my fifty some year journey with horses I have ridden and trained Welsh Ponies, Thoroughbreds, Hanoverians, Trakehners, Arabians, Norwegian Fiords, Australian Stock Horses, Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, Paints, Draft crosses, and Swedish Warmbloods to name a few.  So I have had experiences with a numerous breeds. In addition, I was a full-time instructor at Lake Erie College. I taught both riding and academic courses in their Equine Studies Program. One of the courses I taught was called the History of Horses and Horsemanship. Over the years I taught this course I learned a great deal about many breeds of horses as part of the curriculum. It was during this time that I became convinced I wanted to own an Andalusian horse someday.  Their beauty lightness and ability to do the collected work of the manége fascinated me.

In 2004, I was able to purchase my first Andalusian, and the love affair of a lifetime began.  Since the day my first Andalusian colt set foot on Spring Wood Farm my equestrian journey has become a refreshing and fascinating life experience.  Here are some of my personal observations about the Andalusian horse. They are not only beautiful but extremely intelligent. They are partners not pets. You must be respectful of them if you want their cooperation. Originally bred for war, bullfighting, parades, and performances these horses are brave, and bold. They fear little. Gain their respect, and love and they will give you their soul without reservation. Get angry, upset or frustrated with them when training and you will get nowhere.  

They notice everything but are easily relaxed by a kind word or pat from someone they trust that reassures them all is fine. Teach them something once. They have it. They process what you teach them. Bring them out the next day and you swear they had been practicing it since you left them.  They learn by observation. I have a two year old that learned to do the Jambette while watching my stallion practice it. She is quite good and we never taught her to do it. They are light to your aids. The lighter you use your aids the better they perform. I swear they can tell what you are thinking. One day I was riding my stallion and thinking, “I wonder if he will be able to do flying lead changes his counter canter work is so strong.” Working in true canter I headed across the long diagonal line and my stallion did a flying change as if to say to me, “Don’t worry Mom the flying changes are a piece of cake.” The other day I was having a very nice ride on one of the young horses I have for sale. I was extremely pleased with the ride and was doing a final few strides of right lead canter and my mind wandered to another thought for only a second and the filly gave a little hop as if to say “Pay attention Mom your still riding me and I need to know what to do next.”  I could go on but you get the picture. Of course my antidotal stories may not convince you and given I am also often a skeptic I can understand that perspective. If I were reading this and had not experienced the Andalusian breed for myself I would be rolling my eyes and saying “Sure.” So if you are the least bit intrigued by this blog find some Andalusian horses and spend some time with them. Listen to other owners and trainers of Andalusians. Read books written by individuals that ride and train Andalusians and you will hear these types of stories and others even more fascinating about the Andalusian horse.  

Suggest Reading

Delgado, M. & Pignon, F. (2009). Gallop to Freedom: Training Horses with Our Six Golden Principles. Trafalgar Square Books

Loch, S. (1986).  The Royal Horses of Europe. J. A. Allen

Karl, P. (2010). The Art of Riding: Classical Dressage to High School: Odin at Saumur. Cadmos Publishing

Podhajsky, A. (1979). Complete Training of Horse and Rider. Wilshire Book Co