Alter-Real and Andalusian Horses

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

The Alter-Real Horse was developed specifically for the Portuguese royalty and has had a troubled and varied past. The royal Braganza family started the breed during the mid-18th century by importing Andalusian mares and establishing a royal stud. (1)

Their goal was to create a horse for displays of “haute ecole,” or advanced classical horsemanship, along with carriage driving.

The Alter-Real became very popular and famous, very fast.

However, in the early part of the 19th century, much of the best stock was lost when Napoleon and his armies invaded Europe.

Later, the pure Alter-Real bloodlines became contaminated with foreign stock, with disastrous results.

Andalusians were brought back once again and were used to revive the breed, but then when the Portuguese monarchy was destroyed in 1910, all of the stud archives were also destroyed .

Luckily, and equine expert named Dr. Ruy D’Andrade saved two stallions and thanks to his tireless efforts, the breed survived. (2)

The Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture has run a breeding program since 1932.

The Alter-Real Horse is intelligent, though it can be temperamental, and has a distinctive character, with a flashy action that is suitable for the haute ecole.

It originates in Portugal, is considered a Warmblood and comes in at 15-16HH.

Colors are gray, brown, bay and sometimes chestnut, it likes a Southern temperate climate, and it is used for riding purposes.

The head is average size, with a sometimes convex profile, the neck is short, muscular and arched. The body is compact, with muscular hind quarters and a well-set tail.

The Andalusian is a very old breed; cave paintings in the south of Spain that go back 20,000 years show a prehistoric ancestor of the Andalusian. The horse of today is based on these ancient bloodlines, and in those years since, it has spread around the world. (3)

The Andalusian has had a major impact on a lot of other breeds, including the Quarter Horse, the Hackney, Lipizzaner and Criollo.

Kings loved to ride this beautiful horse, but during the Middle Ages, the breed was somewhat cast aside, as heavier, larger war horses were needed to carry knights and heavy armor.

During the 15th century, when firearms were invented, the Andalusian became popular once again.

It had a beautiful conformation and so it was very suitable for the haute ecole.

The Andalusian is one of Spain’s most famous horse breeds, has a brilliant show ring presence, an extravagant, high-stepping motion, and is also athletic and agile.

Though it is called the Andalusian to the rest of the world, the Spaniards themselves call the breed, “Pura Raza Espanola,” or, The Pure Spanish Breed. (4)

The Andalusian originates in Spain, is considered a Warmblood and comes in at 15-16 HH. Their colors are mostly gray, although they can be black, chestnut, bay or even roan.

The Andalusian likes a Southern temperate climate and it is a good-natured horse, although it has been known to be a bit temperamental.

They have beautiful faces and heads, with broad foreheads and a somewhat convex nose. The neck is thick and arched, with sloping shoulders and wide, deep chests. The back is straight, with muscular hind quarters, and the manes and tails are thick and luxurious.

So interesting, the histories of the different breeds of horses.

More next time, so check back again.

Leaving you with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1-4: “A Pocket Book of Horses and Ponies,” by Corinne Clark