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Iberian Horse Breeds

Updated on April 25, 2012

The Iberian horse is a term that is commonly used in reference to a group of horse breeds that have a common origin. These horse breeds originated from the Iberian Peninsula. Modern the modern day there are only about seventeen horses that are regarded to have originated from this region. Three are Portuguese and fourteen of Spanish horses. These horses are considered to be one of the most ancient oldest domesticated horse breeds. Their general body conformation is described by that of the most renowned member of this group the Andalusian horse.


According to historical facts, the origin of these horses dates back to 3000 BC in the Iberian of Peninsula. This is the oldest documented history of domestication of riding horses. The two most prominent breeds that are known to have very little genetic difference if any are; · Andalusian Horse that was bred in Spain · Lusitano Horse that was bred in Portugal

The two are regarded as sub species or the two classic Iberian horse breeds that are very close genetically. Originally, horses bred for the purpose of dressage were very powerful. Majority of these horses that were bred for dressage were Iberian. Breeding Experts strongly believe that about 80% of the modern horse breeds in Australia have Iberian genes. This has can be emphasized by genetic analysis that has closely links the modern breeds to the Andalusian

History of Sporting

Iberians have been very instrument in the development of sporting horse breeds that perform exemplarily. If you watch this horse performing shows you will understand why it is one of the most desired sport horses. The blend of high intelligence, bravery, enthusiasm to please with the perfect limbs makes it an ideal sporting horse.

This horse may not be the ordinary horse that you will watch performing due to the low numbers of these horses but they have been very useful in breeding for sport horses. In Australia the best sporting horse is a thoroughbred of an Andalusian cross.

Andalusian Association set up the Stud book for these breed. Basically the horse is bred to conform to the Pure Spanish Horse genetically. Formerly stallions had to be the fourth cross while the mares were supposed to be the third cross. It was later agreed that these horses should be their own entity and both sexes had to be the third cross to qualify the entity of the stud book. Additionally it was agreed that the horses have to be micro chipped to qualify.

General Breed Characteristics

Andalusian represents an epitome of an athletic horse that is well bred and this exemplifies the excellence of the Australian Andalusian breeding standards. It is required that the horse be of good body conformation with good body muscle cover and strong bones without deformity of any kind that may result from poor breeding practices. The malformations that occur due to accidents or any acquired problems are not used to discriminate against the horse during the vetting if it qualifies for the stud book.

The horse should have a calm temperament but not too dull. There should be good gait that is natural and manifested in movement and stance. However there are no specific height requirements for the horse to qualify the stud book requirements. The colour of the horse should be any solid colour

General Breed Characteristics Physical Characteristics {Based on Morphology}

The physical characteristics of this breed can be morphologically described as follows;

Head and Neck

· The breed has a gracious and gorgeous head that ought to be proportional with the body.

· The neck plain and the visible gullet should not be thick.

· The ears are positioned well and are average size with easy mobility.

· The horse should have a slightly and long enough for the bridle.

· The neck should also be well set blending well with the shoulder.

· The crest should not be vast or fallen.


· Only full-bodied or robust horses impress the breeders organization and they should have a slightly vaulted rib cage; with wide muscular thorax that can hold deep breath.

· Inclined shoulders that have well developed muscles are desirable for this breed.

· The back should be straight and burly merging well with the croup.

· The Flanks must be short and full. (This is very important)

· Well defined withers that are wide and muscular that join well with the neck are a requirement for good body conformity.

· The Croup is supposed to be of medium width and length. It should be rounded with a slight gradient.

· The base of the tail should not be high and the tail should have significant growth of hair.


· The fore limbs should be muscular and should meet with the shoulders to form a good angle.

· Forearms should exhibit strength that is defined by the well developed tendon and the knees.

· Cannons should be oval in shape

· The fetlock joints should not have any deformity and should be accompanied by wide pastern that has a similar gradient with the hoof. The slope should not be so incline to form an acute angle and it should not be extremely low.

· The hind limbs should be characterized by a rump and thighs that are muscular.

· The lower hind limbs should bare semblance with the fore legs and should also have well developed hooves that are well positioned, proportional and with no signs of deformity.

· The limbs should be able to propel the horse during the trots in the natural way with exemplary impulsion.


The horse has a gracious and intelligent temperament. Usually an energetic animal that is bestowed with great stamina that can be very useful if the horse is well trained. The most outstanding character is the calm temperament.


Cryptoorchidism is a condition that only one testis descends to the scrotum after birth of the male foal has been reported in this breed.

This significantly influences the qualification of the stallion as a good bred horse. Poorly scored horses are not approved to be breeding stock in the stud book.

Another condition referred to as failing chest is also notorious for disqualifying horses that have good body conformation and strength. The horse may develop laminitis if they are overfed on grains. The breed may also develop melanomas due to their grey light skin.


This breed being the first to be domesticated has been used for several years for athleticism. They are remarkable horses that perform well in sporting activities and they are a daring for majority of betting enthusiasts.

They are very good in dressage and a good number has won trophies in world equestrian games in the recent past. The breed is being refined to perfume well in dressage or passage competitions.

Care and Feeding
The breed tend to keep the right weight even if they are feed on reasonably low feed.

This horse is prone to developed of Laminitis and you should avoid overfeeding and more specifically with grains that are likely to induce acidosis.

The thick mane and tail should be regularly trimmed. If you desire to keep the tail long and thick cutting straight across at the base should be done. You should be guided by the level of the fetlock.

They are wonderful dressage horses due to their strength and active gaits. Their extremely physically powerful hindquarters enable the horse to perform the dexterous Haute Ecole movements that are also known as ‘airs above the ground'.

This is the epitome of excellence in performance of the dressage. Only a few breeds are trainable for these dexterous dressage movements.

Secondly they are very useful in the ordinary horse sporting activities like the show jumping. To enhance their ability and performance in the sports they are crossed with the thoroughbreds.


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