The Andalusian horse is a beautiful and incredibly versatile breed. They are one of the most ancient and beloved of all horses – even befitting royalty like the Duke of Newcastle, William Cavendish, who described them in 1667 as being “the noblest horse in the world, and fittest of all for a king in his day of triumph”. Andalusians are pretty powerful by nature and have incredible endurance, making them popular with riders of all stages.
But to what extent are Andalusian horses good for beginners? This breed has many characteristics that could favor a novice rider such as high intelligence and a willingness to learn quickly. However, with their smart side comes a tendency to become easily bored if they feel unchallenged, and this may lead to them testing the rider. Bear in mind though that every horse is different, so some may not fit this temperament based on how they were first broken to ride and their treatment as yearlings.
As an inexperienced rider, it’s important to find out as much as you can about the specific horse so you’re aware of how they may handle. Breeding, early treatment and underlying health issues can all play a role in the disposition of each Andalusian horse and how they might respond to you, so it’s worth familiarizing yourself with some of their stats and frequent queries concerning this breed. Discover more about this stunning breed in our brief guide below.
Are Andalusian Horses Good for Beginners?
Andalusian horses are a very spirited and strong breed, but they are also obedient and willing to learn, making them a great pairing with beginner riders.
As with any horse breed, beginners should quiz the breeder or owner as much as possible to determine their unique personality – some Andalusians can be gentle enough for you to crawl under their belly, while others may have less of an easy-going nature. For this reason, you should make sure you are always in the presence of a trained professional whilst getting acquainted with your Andalusian to ensure your safety and the horse’s comfort.
A knowledge of the history of your individual Andalusian will also help to answer how suited they will be to a beginner rider. For example, Andalusian horses will have differing temperaments depending on how they were ‘broke’ to ride – i.e. whether they were trained to work or raised primarily to be ridden for pleasure. Full-time working and racing horses will tend to be highly strung compared to breeds that are ridden for pleasure regularly and these types typically need experienced riders.
Andalusian Horse Colors
Andalusian horses are commonly Gray or White, but colors of the breed throughout history and to this day include Chestnut, Bay, Black, Buckskin, Palomino, Perlino, Dun and Cremello.
Andalusian Horse Temperament
On balance, most Andalusian horses have a fairly even temperament – they can be smart, calm and brave with a strong desire to learn and a great ability to adapt to changes. The personality traits of Andalusians can differ from horse to horse based on their early care and what they were trained to do.
Overall though, this breed is cooperative and a fast learner, which makes them a dream to train, though some would exercise caution in less experienced riders due to their heavy build and sheer strength.
Andalusian Horse Size
Andalusian stallions stand at around 15 to 16 ½ hands (or 60 – 64 inches tall), whilst mares measure to around 15 ½ hands (roughly 60 inches tall). They can weigh 900 lbs on average, though this lies between 908 lbs and 1,129 lbs in weight between Andalusian stallions, mares and geldings (castrated males). The minimum height of a 3 year old stallion is about 15 hands.
Andalusian Horse Health Problems
Andalusians are a healthy breed overall, but like all horses, they can be susceptible to a condition known as Laminitis if they are overfed.
Laminitis is inflammation of the soft tissue (laminae) that attaches the pedal bone of the foot to the hoof wall and can lead to instability in the pedal bone of the hoof as well as causing extreme pain. Fortunately, you can prevent Laminitis with proper nutrition, regular hoof care and other measures appropriate for your horse’s age and activity.
Another health issue to bear in mind with Andalusian horses is melanoma. Because they are commonly gray and white in color, their lighter skin is more prone to this condition, so be sure to check for bumps on your horse, focusing on the tail and the muzzle in particular.
In terms of general grooming, regular hoof care and trimming is essential in preventing quarter cracks and closed heels that could lead to other complications down the road.
What is the Andalusian Horse Used for?
Today, the modern Andalusian breed is used for general pleasure riding and for horse show events such as dressage and show-jumping. But travel back to the middle ages and Andalusian horses were used as war horses, since their soft stride and comfort in the saddle meant that warriors could sit perched on them for hours at a time and rely on their athletic ability to ride them easily into battle.
Centuries later, the Andalusian breed continued to be selected for its phenomenal athleticism and stamina leading them to be used in everything from bull-fighting and use as stock horses to driving carriages and classical dressage in cavalry training and movements on the battlefield.
How Long Do Andalusian Horses Live?
Andalusians typically live within the lifespan range of most horse breeds for its size, at around 25 years.
What Age Do Andalusian Horses Stop Growing?
Andalusian horses will typically stop growing between 6 and 8 years old when their last growth plate has closed. After 4 years old, Andalusians may have reached their adult height, but they often continue to grow out sideways by a few inches and ‘fill out’ for another few years, and how much they fill out can vary between each horse. A fully grown adult Andalusian stallion will normally measure 15 and 15 ½ hands tall (60 to 61.5 inches) by this time.
Why are Andalusian Horses So Expensive?
The Andalusian breed can be used for a variety of events and purposes which makes them highly sought-after. Prices can vary based on the amount of training the horse has received, its pedigree, age, temperament and so on, but the average sale price for an Andalusian horse ranges between $12,000 and $20,000.
Add to this the fact that Andalusian horses are known as the ‘Pure Spanish horse’ or ‘Pura Raza Española’ and you soon understand why they are so expensive. The pure Spanish breed has superior conformation which basically means they have the best possible body shape and structure (excellent topline, short back, long neck etc) as this has a positive impact on their athletic ability.
Are Andalusian Horses Good Jumpers?
Yes, since many European breeders breed Andalusians specifically for showjumping events, they are considered to be fairly skilled jumpers. They have powerful hindquarters which allow them to jump extremely well and they can demonstrate better flexing of their hind and fore joints compared to most other breeds.
How proficient an individual Andalusian horse is at jumping, however, will depend on its conformation as discussed above and the quality of its training.
Are Andalusian Horses Hot Blooded?
Hot-blooded refers to horse breeds that are high spirited and bold, but because Andalusians have a fairly gentle and calm temperament, they are regarded as ‘warm-blooded’ because of their combination of a mild cold-blooded temperament with a hot-blooded athletic ability.
Over centuries of selective breeding, Andalusians have gone from being a war horse to one bred for general riding and dressage. But because they retain their incredible stamina and agility, they are viewed as the first European ‘warmblood’ horse as they resemble a combination of the lighter Oriental horse breed with the heavy European horse.
Are Andalusian Horses Fast?
While Andalusians are not thought of as a very fast breed, they are blessed with many of the features that lend themselves to speed.
First of all, they have long necks which aid them in their exceptional stamina, and they also have well-defined withers (the ridge between their shoulder blades) and a large chest which helps them to extend their movement and improve their balance and agility on sharp turns.
While they can never demonstrate the speed of a race horse breed, Andalusians possess incredible stamina and resilience, and they also have the intelligence to pick up on complicated movements quickly such as turning on their haunches, which helps them to make intricate turns.
Andalusian horses of the 18th century could gallop for 4 to 5 leagues without altering their pace for up to 15 miles. 1 ‘league’ refers to an old Spanish unit of measurement – 1 nautical league was the equivalent of 2.6 miles or 4.2 km – so to keep this up for 5 leagues showed astonishing stamina!
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