PRE Origins - Part One - Bentley Flock Limited

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PURA  RAZA  ESPANOLA  -  Horse of Kings

Part One

The history of this magnificent breed is as romantic as the many works of art which depict their grace and beauty. In his celebrated book ‘This is the Spanish Horse’, Juan Llamas asserts that “they have travelled down more centuries and galloped across more countries than any other horse”.

Until recent times, horse breeding was concentrated in the south of Spain, around the delta of the Rio Guadalquivir, in Andalucia .This was where the ‘Andalusian’ horse gained its name. It was here that the ancestral horses roamed the pre-glacial land-bridge which linked Spain to North Africa.Throughout history, the Spanish horse has been used by many different people and cultures who occupied Spain, including the Carthaginians, the Romans, various Germanic tribes and the Moors.

The Roman cohorts drew over one third of their remounts from the province of Hispania and were familiar with the courage of the breed.
The Spanish ‘Vaquero’ tradition is ancient. From the beginning of recorded history, cattle and horses have been a part of life on the Iberian Peninsula.  
Juan Llamas states in his book,  
”The Iberians first priority when selecting a horse was one suited both physically and psychologically to working cattle on the open range…which could be schooled to the degree of submission and mutual understanding with his rider.”

So when facing a bull, the vaquero performed intricate maneuvers on his skilful ‘war’ horse, so to avoid being gored to death.
Juan Llamas goes on to say,
“A horse so steady that, after a hundred demanding  exercises, he will walk on at a relaxed, working pace, whose enchantment is characterized by the rhythmic swinging of the mosquero on his browband.”   
By the 15 Century, the Spanish horse had become a distinct type which was being used to influence the development of other breeds.

According to Juan Carlos Altamirano in his book ‘El Caballo Espanol’, he describes that in the second half of the 16 Century, ‘An extraordinary project of selection’ was ordered by the Spanish King Phillip II, to obtain a horse with certain specific characteristics.
The Spanish horse was, and is, the result of a search for a perfect horse, both physically and in temperament. The project was geared to obtaining such a horse, one with perfect forms and above all, the most noble temperament, so as to ensure maximum safety of the King for and by whom it was created.
The creation of the Spanish horse was one of the great achievements of renaissance society.”

Known as the ‘Royal Horse of Europe’, these horses were present at many royal courts and in many riding academies, including countries such as Austria, Italy, France and Germany.
During the reigns of Charles V (1500-1558) and Philip II (1556-1581) Spanish horses were considered the finest in the world.
In the 16th Century, inflation and an increased demand for harness and cavalry horses drove the price of horses extremely high. The expensive Spanish horse became even more so, and often it was impossible to find a member of the breed to purchase at any price.

The Spanish horse attained its peak as a breed at the time of predominance of what has come to be called the Baroque. This period in time was famous for rounded, curvilinear shape, elegance and extravagance in art .The conformation of the Spanish horse reflected many of these features especially when in movement.
Juan Carlos Altamirano states,
Just as the pompous architectural and pictorial style of the times--much used by the Catholic Church--impressed and overwhelmed the masses, the horses that had been selected in Andalusia, where the Baroque was very successful, caused a similar impact, especially when in motion. For this reason stallions with curved forms were used for reproduction and the roman-nosed profile was considered the most appropriate”.

The Spanish horses of the 16th and 17th centuries had not yet reached the final form of the modern type. However, by 1667, William Cavendish, the Duke of Newcastle, referred to the Spanish horse of Andalusia as:
"...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.”

According to Juan Carlos in his book, ’History and Origins of the Spanish Horse’,
“The horses the world marveled at, the ones that were the basis of the development of dressage and were used at royal riding schools starting in the 16 century were those that belonged to the new breed and were known as Spanish horses from the very beginning.”
The classical style of mounted bullfighting is a Spanish tradition, and is known as ‘rejoneo’. This became popular during the reign of Felipe III (1598-1621) and Felipe IV (1621-1665) where the Plaza Mayor became the centre of these social events. Celebrations of great importance such as a Coronation of a King, or a royal wedding became opportunities to conduct a bullfight.

Having been also used as cavalry horses, the breed became threatened in the 1800`s when many horses were stolen by Napoleon’s invading army. An epidemic of disease in 1832 seriously affected Spain’s horse population, from which only one small herd survived at a stud at the monastery in Cartuja.

Over the centuries the Carthusian Monks guarded their prestigous lines with pride, hiding their horses in order to protect the valuable bloodlines. In 1810 after the monks fled from the Carthusian Monastery, the stud was saved from dispertion by the clergyman Pedro Jose Zapata. Throughout his ownership several fine horses from the stud began to stand out for their excellence and won awards in shows and competitions.

Later the stud was sold on to Vincente Romero Garcia who introduced the letter `c` to his ‘Bocado’ curb bit brand. He was particularly successful in breeding a quality stallion named ‘Solo’. Following his death at the beginning of this century and being childless, the stud passed through the hands of several owners.

During the Spanish Civil War, Novato (b.1937) was bought by Robert Osborne. This horse was a male descendant of the original line and over time became a stallion of great importance to the history of the breed, producing several noteworthy sons; Bilbaino III (1947), Animoso III (1947), Descarado II (1949), Ambicoso (1957) and Garboso XI (1958).
During the mid 20 century Fernando Terry and Isabel Merello Terry gathered together a nucleus group of original Bocado bred horses from several breeders, Osborne, Navarro, Chica, Pallares and others, all of whom had safeguarded the ‘Carthusian ’ bloodline. As a result, the Terry family became one of the most recognized and influential breeders in Spanish horse history.

Descarado II’ became a household name across Spain, not only because of his prizewinning at shows but also his presence in television advertising for the Terry Wineries. Several other influential stallions became famous through the Terry name; Bilbaino III, Nevado III and Poseido IV.

The stud was continued to be kept by the Terry family until 1981 when it was bought by Rumasa S.A., the State Heritage department and then later passed over to Expasa. In 1998 the Carthusian monks gave their bell- shaped brand over to Expasa, who now manage their stud now known as Yeguada de la Cartuja –Hierro del Bocado. In order to protect the bloodlines from becoming lost, the breed was restricted from exportation from Spain until the 1960`s.

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