9 Things That You Should Know About Baroque Horses

From Homer’s Iliad in 1,000 BC to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Iberian Horse was believed to be the “premier war horse” and could be found in the majority of military regimes. The horses’ short backs and broad hindquarters made them strong enough to carry an armored rider and heavy artillery while still being agile enough to charge battle.

By Terisé Cole

Andalusian and Lusitano
The Andalusian horse finds it roots in 20,000-year-old, prehistoric cave paintings of Iberian horses. These paintings popped up in southern Spain’s half of the Iberian Peninsula and led to the belief that these horses are the foundation for the Andalusian breed.

The Lusitano is often associated with the Andalusian because of their shared history. Like Andalusians, the Lusitano breed is traced back to the Iberian horses of Europe’s Iberian Peninsula, but while they may share the same early Iberian history, the Andalusian horse was developed through the years in Spain, while the Lusitano was developed in Portugal. Today the two breeds are considered separate but share early history.

From Homer’s Iliad in 1,000 BC to the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Iberian Horse was believed to be the “premier war horse” and could be found in the majority of military regimes. The horses’ short backs and broad hindquarters made them strong enough to carry an armored rider and heavy artillery while still being agile enough to charge battle.

In addition to war horses, the early breeds were considered the horses of royalty and sparked the creation of royal riding academies that taught dressage. Because of their agility and impulsion—the same reasons they were selected for battle—the Andalusian was the ideal mount. “They do well particularly in the upper levels of dressage. Because their hindquarters are so strong and they are such physical horses, they do extremely well in the upper level movements such as the piaffe and passage,” says Janita Smith, International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) president.

Under the IALHA, the Andalusian and Lusitano horses are considered to be purebred Andalusians as are horses that are a blend of these two breeds. “The IALHA denotes the Spanish horse with a capital ‘S’ on the registry certificate and a capital ‘P’ for the Portuguese horse. Other registries in Portugal and Spain have the breeds separated out into the Portuguese Lusitano or Cavalo Puro Segue Lusitano (PSL) and the Spanish Andalusian or Pura Raza Española (PRE),” says Smith. ”

“The Lusitanos are particularly bred for Working Equitation,” says Smith. Founded in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy, Working Equitation is on the rise in America and includes four trials that the horse and rider must complete—dressage, ease of handling, speed, and cow handling—although in many areas, the cow handling phase is not currently required in the United States.

Lipizzan
The Lipizzan breed began in 1580 at a stud farm in Lipizza established by Archduke Charles of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The breed was then developed during the 17th and 18th centuries and brought about the breed standards of a bay or black to grey coat color, convex nose, and athletic build.

Warfare often threatened the breed over the centuries and the horses were moved or sold to prevent annihilation. After the Lipizzans were distributed during World War I and central Europe reorganized, the breeding stock ended up divided between Italy, Kladrub (then a Czechoslovakian state), and Austria. During World War II, the Lipizzans were moved again, this time to Czechoslovakia, before the American army retrieved and returned them to Austria.

Lipizzans were brought to American soil in 1937 and the largest private breeding facility in the world of Lipizzan horses resides in the United States in Old Mill Creek, IL. Tempel Lipizzans is modeled after the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and breeds the horses for their dressage, Airs Above The Ground, and driving performances.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association