Andalusian Breed Characteristics
OVERALL – Square in overall frame, with a short back, long legs, and powerful neck and hindquarters. A beautiful head and an elegantly arched neck define the breed. The Andalusian Horse’s overall conformation lends itself to sturdy, agile, and athletic animals who are exceptionally comfortable to ride. Averaging 1100 lbs, or 500 kg.
COLOR – Historically, approximately 80% of Andalusians were gray, though dark coats are becoming more common. The white coats and dark skin typical of grays are beneficial as protection against the heat and UV radiation of southern Spain’s hot sun. Black and Bay were also historically allowed in the studbook. More recently, chestnut, and the dilute colors associated with the Cream gene have been accepted into the studbooks, which include buckskin, palomino, cremello, and pearlino.
HEIGHT – Generally standing between 15.2hh – 16.2hh when mature. Mares and Carthusians might be shorter in stature.
HEAD – Heads should be medium in length, well proportioned, with a slight convex (subconvex) profile. In the early 20th Century, a straight profile also became acceptable. Concave, and strongly convex profiles are undesirable. Cheekbones should be well developed, with fine, supple skin covering them, with a fluted nasal bone tapering down to a proportionally small muzzle.
THROAT AND JAW – The jaw should be well developed and long, with strong, but not overly large cheek bones. The throatlatch should be clean-cut, and should not be fleshy or thick. The widest space beneath and between the jaw bones should allow a human fist to fit between them.
NOSTRILS & MUZZLE – Nostrils should be distinctively narrow and elongated, able to open widely during exercise. The muzzle should have fine, silky whiskers, with discreet bifurcation of the upper lip, called “pico de liebre”. The entire muzzle should be relatively small in comparison to the jaw. The corners of the lips should just reach the bar of the mouth, to facilitate effective bitting. Round nostrils, coarse muzzles, and short mouths, or “rabbit muzzles” are undesirable.
EYES – Eyes should be large, forward-looking, and triangular in shape. They should be alert, lively, and kind-looking. Eyelashes should be long. They should be neither bulging, nor sunken, nor lacking the triangular shape iconic to the breed.
EARS – The ears should be medium sized, smaller in males. In both sexes they should be wide at the base, well-notched, spaced well apart, set partway down the head, and expressing a perfect half-crescent shape along the outer edge.
SKIN – The skin should be thin and tight against bones and muscle, with veins close to the surface so as to allow dispersal of heat. The color of the skin should be dark, without excessive white markings, though small facial markings are common and acceptable.
BACK – The back should be short, especially in males. It should be muscular and close to straight. The loin should also be short and powerful.
WITHERS – The withers of the Andalusian horse should be set back, and neither very high nor very low. They are powerful and wide, and flow smoothly from the neck and shoulder into the back. Set-back withers lend themselves to short backs, well set necks, and sloping shoulders. The wither should always be slightly higher than the hindquarters
CHEST – The chest should be full and deep, of medium width, with long, well-sprung ribs. Excessive wideness or narrowness is undesirable. When viewed from the front, the front legs should rise to the chest to form an “arch”, reminiscent of a cathedral arch.
SHOULDER – The shoulder should have a generously sloping angle, ideally 50 degrees to the horizontal, and should be long, wide, and powerfully muscled.
HINDQUARTERS – Hindquarters should be rounded and very powerful, with an acute angle of the stifle and a short, round croup. The tail should be low set and flush with the buttocks, and should not be raised or held away from the body except for rare occasions of unusual excitement. The length and weight of the head and neck should be directly proportional to the size of the hindquarters.
NECK – The neck should be high and arched, flexible, and uplifted, capable of completely comfortable and natural vertical head carriage. It should should be set high upon the shoulder, and end in a subtle upturn before the withers. The neck should be both shapely and muscular, neither straight and shapeless nor overly short and thick. The bottom outline of the neck should not be convex, and should spring from the top of the horse’s chest, not the center or the bottom. The crest should not excessively wobble when the horse moves. The throatlatch should be clean-cut, and should not be fleshy or thick.
LEGS – Both fore and hind legs should be proportionally long in comparison to the overall body length of the horse. Excessively light or heavy bones in the legs are undesirable. Pasterns should be of medium length and should not be excessively upright as in a draft, or laid back like a thoroughbred. The skin should be thin and tight against the bones and tendons of the legs.
FORE LEGS – The fore legs should be set well back from the chest and shoulder, with a narrow angle between the scapula and humerus. The forearm should be powerful and lean, and the cannon bones should be long. Knees should be flat, broad, and smooth. No feathering on the legs or pasterns should be present.
REAR LEGS – The gaskin should be muscular, and the hock strong and well-developed. Fetlocks should be lean and prominent. Rear legs should be set parallel to one another, and should not be sickle hocked or camped out.
HOOVES – Hooves should be wide at the base, medium in size, wider than they are tall, well shaped, and of superior hardness.
HAIR – The hair of the coat should be fine, shiny, and tight against the skin. There should be a unique opalescent sheen of the coats of grays. The mane and tail hair should be long and silky. Thin mane and tail, coarsely textured hair, and feathering on the legs are undesirable.
MOVEMENT – Movement should always be expressive, lofty, and rhythmic, with distinctive joint flexion and articulation. Carthusians display more suspension and action than other bloodlines, which may instead offer more in the way of gait extensions.
TEMPERAMENT – Andalusians, historically bullfighting horses, must be obedient, brave, intelligent, and sensitive. They are fast learners, and respond well to advanced training and difficult situations when treated with respect and kindness. Agile and responsive, Andalusians are versatile and can adapt well to most modern disciplines. Andalusians are one of the few breeds consistently capable of the focus and determination required of the airs above the ground.