Tuesday, February 21, 2012

La Pura Raza Española

La Pura Raza Española (PRE), also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or the Andalusian horse, is a native breed to the Iberian Peninsula. (Specifically, native to Andalucía. Woot.) If you're not a horse person, chances are you don't know much about this breed. I don't remember knowing much about them until I came to study in Granada, Spain. And now? Well, I'm pretty much obsessed.

In a nutshell, the Andalusian horse is powerful and muscular, yet still elegant and beautiful, and ridiculously smart. They are known for their ability to learn difficult concepts quickly, which is one of the reasons they are so popular for difficult dressage moves. They have also been prized as a war horse and the horse of nobility since the 1500's, when they were first recognized as a breed. Already, by the mid 1600's, the breed was described 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." [Source]

Anyway, what initiated this little history lesson was that I got to see a dressage show with these horses last Saturday. I tried to rally some friends by insisting that watching horses trot in circles and do fancy foot work was fun, but alas, no one believed me. I guess this means I am a true horse fanatic? Hmm.

I will save you all and stop gushing now, and just leave you with some pictures from the show.

This horse was my favorite. Absolutely stunning and ridiculously talented. 

Gorgeous, right? Told you.

These next 2 videos show the extent to which these horses have undergone training.  
Firstly, training a horse to jog in place, called the piaffe, is very difficult because it is not intuitive at all.
And secondly, to be that close to a flaming stick and not even flinch, well...could you do that??

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