Andalusitano get a lot of mails with questions. We have therefore created this page as a small summary of things that people often ask us. It’s both facts about dealing with us as an agency and myths and stories around the Spanish horses that we are trying to answer as well as we can. Don’t hesitate writing to us if you have any question regarding the process with Andalusitano or things that you wonder about concerning the breed!
The Andalusian horse has a very docile temperament, most of the time it’s not necessary to geld them as long as they are treated with respect and kept in a safe environment. The reason as to why a horse might be gelded is not generally because it’s difficult in the temperament, it’s mostly out of convenience if the horses are living out together or if children or inexperienced riders are handling the horse or if it has had some sort of physical problem that has forced them to geld the horse.
In some places they actually have paddocks for the stallions to come out, but in most places it’s not so. The following is not in agreement with how Andalusitano wants to keep horses but just an observation of how it might be. The land is so expensive here in the south of Spain so many yards simply don’t have the facility to keep paddocks. Or that the horses are being used for riding and show and by letting them out in the harsh sunlight with flies rugged terrain etc. they will not keep their beautiful manes and coats and they might harm themselves too. Another reason is that they are stallions and they might get more feisty if they get let out.
Why don’t the Spanish ride Generally the mares aren’t used for riding but some are, and especially withing the “doma vaquera” discipline. I have actually heard some older Spanish horse men say that the mares are in heat so often and when they are in heat the area around their uterus gets inflamed slightly and they get more sensitive over their backs and working them then is a shame as they might feel pain. This makes it harder to train a mare consistently than a stallion. I don’t know if this is true but it was interesting to know that there might be a reason as to why they are not so frequently used for riding. The other reason is of course that the Spanish have a slight macho culture and would not ride a mare because of this. “A man rides a stallion” I can imagine them say to each other…their mares?
An Andalusian, is a horse from Andalusia. It can be any Iberian looking horse from Spain. The correct name of the actual studbook registered “Andalusians” is P.R.E. which stands for Pura Raza Española (Purebred Spanish).
Before asking if the Andalusian horse is more prone to Laminitis we must first ask ourselves; What is Laminitis? Laminitis is characterised by inflammation of the digital laminae of the hoof, and severe cases with outwardly visible clinical signs are known by the colloquial term founder. In bad cases it can create a rotation of the pedal bone inside the horses hoof and it’s a very painful symptom of a long range of problems in the horses all over condition.Laminitis can be caused by too much carbohydrates or a nitrogen compound overload, lush pastures and freezing grass. All those causes can apply to any type of horse or breed. Likewise can any horse or breed get a colic or following infection after surgery or birth which will lead to a laminitis attack. Common causes are:
- Carbohydrate overload: Too much hard feed or grass that is eaten during stress can accumulate sugars or starch in a higher degree that the horse is unable to digest fast enough. The excess goes straight into the hind gut and starts to ferment which will increase the acidity in the horses gut which in turn kills the beneficial bacteria and this acid goes straight into the laminae in the feet.
- Nitrogen compound overload: Horses can deal with some toxic non-protein nitrogen (NPN) compounds in their forage. But if there is a rapid increase in these levels, such as can be in spring time when the grass grows quickly due to sudden weather changes between sun and rain, the natural metabolic processes can become overloaded, resulting in liver disturbance and toxic imbalance and as a following symptom laminitis.
- Colic: Laminitis can sometimes develop after a serious case of colic, due to the release of endotoxins into the blood stream.
- Lush pastures: When releasing horses back into a pasture after being kept inside (typically during the transition from winter stabling to spring outdoor keeping), the excess fructan of fresh spring grass can lead to a bout of laminitis. Ponies and other good doers are much more susceptible to this form of laminitis than are larger horses.
- Freezing grass: A sudden colder temperature can make the plant unable to get rid of the sugars as quickly and it’s accumulated in the plant in higher concentration. The sugar would increase the insuline level in the horse and can be a cause to laminitis due to an excess release of toxins into the blood stream.
- Infections: Bacterial infections can also cause release of endotoxins into the blood stream.
- Insulin resistance: Many horses are insulin resistant and such horses have a larger fat storage in certain body parts such as neck, loin, above the eyes and tail head. These horses become obese very easily and can very easily develop laminitis. Often these are horses that have been fed up on very sparse terrain with little to eat so they are not used to the high sugar content in lush grass.
If we look at the description of a horse with insulin resistance though… It pretty much describes the baroque Spanish type horse. A horse with rounded shape, good doer, large crest or neck that stores fat in certain areas of his body. This might be true on specific lines of horses (especially the baroque type horse) but there are so many lines of Spanish horses that it’s difficult to make a generalisation for this particular breed. I think that you should take caution with any type of horse when changing his environment or feeding status. Yes we see laminitis in the Spanish horses but I am not sure that this is because of the breed or the living conditions of the horse in many cases. Horses that are being starved for large amounts of time and then after that fed fast to regain weight is not uncommon in Spain. Possible infections could also be causes to laminitis here rather than the breed.
vocadoIt is said that the oldest and purest bloodline of the Spanish horse is the Carthusian line. A Carthusian horse is allegedly a white horse with black skin and often with melanoma under it’s tail, with the branding of a curbed bit on it’s flanks, known for it’s beauty and fetching in large sums of money in a sale. The origin is questionable though. During the 10th century the major part of Europe and Spain were controlled by the Romans with the Catholic church being the prominent power. The Carthusian order was originally founded in France by Bruno Hartenfaust who was a cannon of the Collegiate of Saint Humbert. The order spread quickly in popularity and soon had monastery all over Spain too. In the 15th century the Monastery in Jerez de la Frontera in South Spain was founded and the monks kept a large number of animals (pigs and goats) in this particular monastery. From this point there are different views of the origin of the Carthusian horse. Most of the information comes from 19th and 20th century writers. The writer Fransisco de la Iglesia writes that the horses stemmed from two brothers named Zamora who had got a horse called Esclavo with melanomas under it’s tail and the writer Pedro Pablo Pomar claims them to come from a man that the called “the Soldier” in the village, who had brought home a Fresian mare and he covered with his stud and created the horse “Soldado” (meaning soilder) who was a white horse with melanoma under it’s tail, (melanoma is a common understanding of something that caracterises the Carthusian horse). As with many good stories it’s hard to know if they are true or not. And both of the above writers seem to have interpreted the same story differently using certain similar names and expressions. Fact has it though, that in 1587 king Philip II ordered that all mares and stallions in Spain were to be registered. In 1588 the kings register clerk came to register the horses in the premises of the Carthusian monastery in Jerez. They had two bay mares marked with a brand that looked like a O with an A and a V on top, and two foals, one colt and one filly. The monastery brand doesn’t look like that. They only had four horses and none of them with their own brand? This contradicts the story of that this special line of horse should be the oldest and purest blood line stemming from the 14th century. During the 17th century the Spanish horse breed was perfected in the city of Cordoba by crossbreeding horses from all over Spain and the rest of Europe. If we jump forward to 18th century there were many more inscriptions in the register from the Carthusian stables. Now they had around 70 mares and 5 studs and maybe even more. But the myth that the Carthusian horse is white is also far fetched as in the register 58% of the Carthusian horses were bay. During the 18th century the horses from Jerez including the Carthusian horses became very popular in all of Europe for being a quality horse and an improvement of the Spanish horse. It’s about this time that the Carthusian monastery horses had increased in numbers and also had more white horses registered. The church was an economic organisation along with keeping the faith and it’s probable that the demand for a perfect horse increased the monks interest in buying and selling horses. This led people from all over Europe to know them as horse dealers, but as with any good business you need something for each client. And the monks had many horses of different types the majority probably marked with their own brand that looks a bit like a monks cloak with a cross on top. cartusianbrandThe “Bocado” brand the curbed bit brand, being famous for being the Carthusian brand, in fact first appeared in 1745 and belonged to the “Society of Jesus” The Jesuits had farms and schools in the area of Jerez but in 1767 they were expelled from Spain and all their property was given to the Town Hall of Jerez de la Frontera to sell, including many horses of extraordinary quality stemming from the royal stables of Cordoba and king Philip II. There are registers of horses sold to a Jose Antonio Retamales in 1780 who continued the brand, then to Juan Diaz Rodrigues in 1799 who kept the brand until 1809. Therefore one cannot say that the bocado brand is the brand of the Carhusian monks nor that the Carthusian blood line is the oldest bloodline of Spanish horses. The oldest bloodline of Spanish horses is probably the lines that king Philip II bred by buying mares from all over Europe in his quest of creating the perfect horse. The monks were mere business men selling and marketing these horses all over Europe.