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Is Cartujano the oldest bloodline?

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.

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