Purebred Spanish Horses – 19th century to the present
During the 1800s, the Purebred Spanish breed was threatened when many horses were stolen or requisitioned in wartime, during the War of the Oranges, the Peninsular War and the three Carlist Wars. During this time, Napoleon’s invading army stole many horses; however, one herd of Andalusians was hidden from the invaders and subsequently used to renew the breed. In 1822, breeders began to add Norman blood into Spanish bloodlines, as well as further infusions of Arabian blood. This was partially due to increasing mechanization and changing needs within the military that called for horses with more speed in cavalry charges and more bulk for pulling gun carriages. In 1832, an epidemic of disease seriously affected Spain’s horse population, from which only one small herd survived at a stud at the monastery in Cartuja. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, European breeders, especially the Germans, changed from an emphasis on Andalusian and Neapolitan horses (an emphasis that had been in place since the decline of chivalry), to an emphasis on the breeding of Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, further depleting the stock of Andalusians. In the early 20th century, Spanish horse breeding began to focus on other breeds, with strong focus on draft breeds, Arabians, Thoroughbreds and crosses between these breeds, as well as crosses between these breeds and the Andalusian. The purebred Andalusian was not seen favorably by breeders or the military, and their numbers decreased significantly.
Pure Spanish Horses only began to be exported from Spain in 1962. The first Purebred Spanish horses were imported to Australia in 1971, and in 1973 an association (the Andalusian Horse Association of Australasia) was formed for the registration of these Andalusians and their pure- and part-bred offspring. Strict quarantine guidelines prohibited the importation of new Andalusian blood to Australia for many years, but since 1999, regulations have been relaxed and over half a dozen new horses have been imported. Bloodines in the United States also rely on imported stock, and today, all United States PRE’s can be traced directly to the Spanish Stud books in Spain. There are around 8,500 in the United States. These numbers indicate that the Pure Spanish Horse is still a relatively rare breed in the United States.