What to Know About the Andalusian Horse

Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on January 08, 2023

The Andalusian horse is an ancient breed that can trace its roots all the way back to the time of the Ancient Romans and Greeks. In fact, it’s one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. Renowned for their beauty and power, the Andalusians were the breed of choice for kings of Spain and Portugal for centuries. 

If you’re considering purchasing an Andalusian horse, here’s what you need to know when it comes to their personality, needs, and care.

What Is an Andalusian Horse?

The Andalusian horse gets its name from the southern region of Spain: Andalusia. The earliest ancestors of the Andalusians are depicted in cave paintings found within the Iberian peninsula. These early horses were cared for and selectively bred by a number of different people and cultures who have lived in Spain for centuries. Experts agree that the Andalusian was influenced by horses belonging to groups like the Moors, Celts, and Romans.

In the Middle Ages, Carthusian monks bred the horse that we now know as the Andalusian, and every purebred today can trace their bloodline back to these horses. These monks kept studs in monasteries in Seville, Spain, where they were able to train Andalusians and keep them somewhat isolated so that the bloodline didn’t mix with other breeds. 

In the early 1800s, though, Napoleon’s army invaded Spain and stole Andalusian horses to bring back to France. Meanwhile, one herd was hidden away in a monastery to protect the breed so that it could survive. A few years later, illness threatened the breed, so another herd was quarantined in a monastery in Cartuja, protecting the Andalusian for generations to come.

Andalusian horses were bred selectively, and they weren’t exported to other countries until 1962. Now, the Andalusian is also known as the Pura Raza Española: i.e., Pure Spanish Breed. Today, it’s estimated that there are 16,000 purebred Andalusians in the US and 60,000 around the world.

Andalusian Horse Characteristics

Their distinctive physical appearance and gentle demeanor made the Andalusian the preferred horse of Spanish and Portuguese nobility for centuries. It’s a compact horse and well-proportioned. The Andalusian’s muscular neck holds up a head with small ears and a flat, convex nose. The average Andalusian horse size is between 15.2 and 16.2 hands (between 62 and 68 inches).

Purebred Andalusian horses are renowned for their beauty and elegance. These horses have thick, silky manes and tails and fine hair that covers the rest of their bodies. While Andalusians are mostly light gray or white, they can also occasionally be bay, black, or chestnut in color. 

Purebreds that have socks, patches, or other markings that break their solid coloring are usually not selected for showing.

Andalusian Horse Temperament and Personality

In addition to their physical beauty, Andalusians are a top choice for riders because of their gentle nature and good temperament. These horses are also light on their feet and very athletic, so they can compete in a number of different areas when it comes to riding, driving, and dressage. They are easy to train and very kind and relaxed with their owners, so they will learn quickly and can typically perform a number of tasks. Their good temperament makes them a top choice for families who are looking for a riding horse since the Andalusian will get along well with children.

However, even though Andalusian horses are docile by nature, they are also quite brave and agile. These qualities made the horse quite famous, the top companion for Spanish warriors and conquistadors going into battle over the centuries. Today, the courageous Andalusian is still the companion of bullfighters in Spain.

Andalusian Horse Diet

An important part of caring for your Andalusian horse is making sure that they receive the nutrition that they need. What and how much you feed your horse depends on a number of different factors. Riding horses can get by on a diet of top-quality hay or by simply grazing in a pasture. Andalusians that compete, on the other hand, will need a diet supplemented by grains or feed. Some things to consider when feeding your horse include:

  • Size
  • Age
  • Health
  • Level of activity
  • Growth 

Each day, horses eat 1.5 to 2% of their body weight in dry feed or roughage. If your horse is out to pasture, make sure that they have access to adequate food and water. Horses in stalls should have hay available at all times so that they can feed when they like. At least 70% of your horse’s diet should come from roughage. If you choose to give your horse grain, feed it to them in a few small portions a day instead of all at once so that your Andalusian has enough time to properly digest their food.

If you want to supplement your Andalusian’s diet with grain, you should introduce it slowly and in small amounts. Any changes that you make to your horse’s diet should be gradual to let their body adjust properly. If you decide to give your horse prepared feed, it should contain enough fat and protein added in for your horse’s needs.

Caring for Your Andalusian Horse

Just like other animal companions, horses need regular veterinary care to stay healthy. Adult horses should have a check-up once a year, while horses that are 20 years old or older should see a vet at least twice a year. Proper care includes vaccinations, worming, and other parasite control. With proper care, Andalusians can live up to 25 years.

Other aspects of your Andalusian’s health can be controlled with proper grooming. Maintaining your horse’s teeth with proper dental care ensures that they can feed as they should. Daily brushing and grooming maintain your horse’s appearance and allow you to inspect their skin for any lesions or sores. Pick your horse's hooves each day to remove dirt and debris, and check for signs of wear. On average, your Andalusian will need to have their hooves trimmed every six weeks or so. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, your vet or farrier can help with trimming.

Show Sources

Agriculture Victoria: “Feed requirements of horses.”
Andalusian Horse Association of Australasia: “Pure Spanish Andalusian.”
The Humane Society of the United States: “The rules of feeding your horse.”
International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association: “The Original Dressage Horse.”
International Museum of the Horse: “Andalusian.”
MERCK MANUAL Veterinary Manual: “Routine Health Care of Horses.”
Oklahoma State University: “Breeds of Livestock - Andalusian Horse.”
US Equestrian: “Andalusian/Lusitano.”

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