The Andalusian horse is one of the most ancient of horse breeds and has lived on the Iberian Peninsula since pre-history and is represented in cave paintings dating back 25,000 years.  The Andalusian derives its name from its place of origin, the Spanish region of Andalusia, and has been recognized as an individual breed since the 15th century.  The conformation of the Andalusian has changed very little over the centuries.

Throughout its history, the Andalusian has been known for its prowess as a war horse and was prized by the nobility. The breed was also used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government and kings across Europe rode and owned Spanish horses. As time went on, kings from across Europe, including every French monarch from Francis I to Louis XVI, had equestrian portraits created showing themselves riding Spanish-type horses.  The Iberian horse became known as the "royal horse of Europe" and was seen at many royal courts and riding academies, including those in Austria, Italy, France and Germany.

Exports of Andalusians from Spain were restricted until the 1960s, but the breed has since spread throughout the world, despite still-low population numbers. In 2010, there were little more than 185,000 registered Andalusians worldwide.

Sometimes, Andalusians are referred to as PRE or ‘Pura Raza Espanola’.  This means that the horse is of pure Spanish bloodlines and is registered with a PRE registry.

Andalusian Breed Standard

Head - The head should be of “average” size, and proportionate to the body. It should be rectangular, lean, with a straight or slightly convex profile. The ears should be mobile, medium sized, well placed and parallel with a well rounded outside curve. They should not point inwards. The forehead should be wide, flat or slightly convex, with large, expressive triangular eyes. The muzzle should be soft and smooth. The upper lip should be longer than the lower lip, and divided (hare’s lip). The nostrils should be long, in the shape of an inverted comma or almond. The jaw should be neither pronounced nor very muscular and blend into the rest of the head.

Neck - The neck should be of average length and size. It should have and slightly arched curve on top and slightly concave curve on the bottom. The shoulder should be long, elastic and sloping at a 45 degree angle from the line of the ground. It should have sufficient movement to allow freedom of the front legs.

Chest - It should be proportionate, low set and muscular.

Body - The body should be well proportionate and robust. The withers should be unobtrusively wide and obvious. A solid muscular back, wide, short loin, muscular and somewhat rounded and well joined to the back and the croup.

Back - The back is located between the kidneys and the withers and here is where the impulsion created by the hindquarters is transmitted to the forehand. It should be flexible, fairly short, and sufficiently wide in proportion to the rest of the animal, and very slightly concave.

Loin - The loin is formed by the six lumbar vertebrae, and the muscular mass that covers them, between the back and the croup. The lumbar region is short, wide, and very sensitive to the touch.

Croup - The croup should be of average length and width, rounded, strong, and slightly sloping. The tail set is low and placed between the buttocks.

Temperament - The Temperament is noble and docile, with a willingness and desire to please, and very intelligent. They can seem almost human at times and they form strong bonds with their owners. They love attention from their humans which makes them generally easy to train and they love showing off. Despite being docile, they have great bravery in different uses and situations, and show exuberance.

Movement - The movement should be agile, high, with good extension, harmonic and rhythmic. They possess a predisposition for collection.   The Andalusian is a most impressive sight, with his sculptural beauty, proud bearing and natural high action.

Coat - Approximately 80% of Andalusians are gray, 15% are bay and 5% are black or dilute colours.

A variety of perspectives exist regarding the history, bloodlines and morphology of the beautiful Andalusian & Lusitano horse. PAALH respects the variety of opinions representing the history and bloodlines of these amazing Iberian horses.

The origins of the modern Lusitano horse run deeply into the ancient history of the Iberian Peninsula. Recent DNA studies tie the Lusitano of today to the horses present in Iberia over 5,000 years ago. The equestrian culture of Ancient Iberia was famous even in Greek and Roman times and that tradition remains unbroken over the years to the present. The Lusitano is the product of the outstanding horse breeding skills of the Portuguese people who have historically focused on creating a riding horse to match their own renowned equestrian skills in war, sport, and the bullring.

Organized horse breeding in Portugal has been practiced for centuries, both at the private farm level and at the level of the Royal Stud. Many of the old families of Portugal have been involved in the development and preservation of the Lusitano horse and were a primary source for the horses used to establish the first official Lusitano Studbook in 1942. In 1967, administration of the Lusitano Studbook was given to a private group of breeders, the Portuguese Association of Purebred Lusitano Horse Breeders (APSL).

The APSL has refined and improved the Lusitano Studbook over the years through the application of modern breeding principles and modifications of studbook regulations as they are needed to advance the interests of the Lusitano worldwide.

The Lusitano horse we see today is a blend of the ancient horse lines of Portugal with selective use of the PRE (Spanish Purebred) horse and a small number of other hot-blooded breeds (TB and Arab). This careful breeding was done with the intention of creating a horse with the rideability, temperament, and style that the Lusitano is famous for and the Portuguese passionately adore.

Currently, registration in the APSL Lusitano studbook is limited to those horses whose Purebred Lusitano parents are approved for breeding and are listed as such in the APSL studbook.  Lusitanos registered in the APSL studbook are sometimes referred to as PSL or ‘Pura Sangue Lusitano’.

For further information, the following books are available in English:

Lusitano Champions: Historic Memory 1966-2003 by Pedro Ferra da Costa, published by Idições Inapa, 2005.

Lusitano Horse: The Son of the Wind by Arsénio Raposo Cordiero. published by Edições Inapa, S.A., 1997. ISBN: 972.8387-20-2

Lusitano Breed Standard

TYPE - Middleweight (weight around 500 kgs.) "Medium lined"; sub-convex profile (with rounded outlines); a silhouette that can be fitted into a square).

HEIGHT - Medium; at the age of six years, the average height, measured at the withers is 1.55m (nearest conversion 15.1hh) for females and 1.60m (15.3hh) for males.

COAT - The most appreciated and esteemed are all shades of grey and bay.

TEMPERAMENT - Noble, generous and ardent, but always gentle and able to support duress.

MOVEMENTS - Agile, elevated forward, smooth and having a great facility to carry the rider in comfort.

APTITUDE - A natural ability for concentration, with a great disposition for High School work; courage and enthusiasm for the gineta exercises (combat, hunting, bullfighting, work with cattle etc.).

HEAD - Well proportioned, of medium length, narrow and dry, with the lower jaw not too pronounced and the cheek inclined to be long. Slightly sub-convex profile with slightly curved forehead (in advance of the eyebrows' bones); the eyes, tending to an elliptical form, are big, alive, expressive and confident. Fine, narrow and expressive ears of medium length.

NECK - Of medium length, with fine hair line, deep in the base, well inserted between the shoulders, rising up arched from the withers without convexity, ending at a narrow and fine junction with the head.

WITHERS - Long and well defined, with a smooth transition from the back to the neck, always higher than the croup. On adult stallions is sometimes covered with fat but always prominent from the shoulders.

CHEST - Of medium size, deep and muscular.

RIBCAGE - Well developed, long and deep, slightly arched ribs obliquely inserted into the spinal column giving rise to short and full flank.

SHOULDERS - Long, slanting and well muscled.

BACK - Well placed, tending towards the horizontal and making a smooth connection between the withers and the loins.

LOINS - Short, wide, slightly convex, well connected with the back and croup with which they form a continuous line.

CROUP - Strong and rounded, well-balanced, slightly slanting. The length and width of identical dimensions; harmonious convex profile with the point of the hip unobtrusive, giving the croup a cross section of elliptical shape. Tail with long, silky and abundant hair gently emerging from the convex line of the croup's profile.

LEGS - The forelegs are well muscled and harmoniously inclined. Upper arm straight and muscular. Knees are thick and dry. The cannons tend to be long, dry and with well-pronounced tendons. The fetlocks are dry, relatively big and with very little hair. The pasterns are relatively long and sloping. The hooves are of good constitution, well formed and proportioned without being too open; the line of the coronet is not very evident. The buttock is short and convex. The thigh is muscular, normally short and oriented in such a way that the patella gaskin is in the same vertical line as the hip-bone, or point of the hip. The legs are normally long, placing the point of the hock in a vertical line with the point of the buttock. The hocks are large, strong and dry. The hind legs form relatively closed angles.

"... the noblest horse in the world, the most beautiful that can be. He is of great spirit and of great courage and docile; hath the proudest trot and the best action in his trot, the loftiest gallop, and is the lovingest and gentlest horse, and fittest of all for a king in his day of triumph."

—William Cavendish, the Duke of Newcastle, 1667

To complement their conformational characteristics, the most outstanding thing about these horses is their versatility which is due to the union of mental balance, harmony, intelligence and willingness to work.  Because this breed has been around humans for about three thousand years, they have developed a special bond with us, can understand and can communicate with us. They can read our moods and they seek our companionship and praise and bond to “their” person.

Iberian horses can be seen in a wide variety of uses. Their versatility is unequalled and they can and do excel in all events in riding and driving disciplines.   They are excellent western event horses (cattle events and working ranch horses) because they have a lot of cow sense due to having been used to work cattle on the Iberian Peninsula for centuries. The ability to “turn on a dime” makes them perfect mounts for the bullring. They are also superior in all English events from hunter, pleasure to dressage. Their performance as jumpers is outstanding and they are phenomenal driving horses. They are perfect carriage horses and have placed in international driving competitions against other breeds.   You will often see young children riding stallions in fairs and parades around hundreds of other horses. This is possible because of their great obedience and fearlessness which also makes them great trail horses. They are also used extensively in movies, especially historical pictures and fantasy epics.

Iberian horses have also been used to develop many other breeds.  Over its centuries of development, the Iberian horse has been selected for athleticism and stamina.  Breeds with their ancestry include many of the warmbloods in Europe as well as most breeds native to North and South America.  As well, the following breeds have very high percentages of Iberian blood:


Spanish Norman

Iberian Warmblood





Andalusians & Lusitanos
The Andalusian
The Lusitano
Uses of the Andalusian & Lusitano Horse