The Andalusian Horse

The Andalusian Horse

Also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE (Pura Raza Española), the Andalusian is one of the most well-known Spanish breeds. The Andalusian steed originates from the Iberian Peninsula, and its predecessors have lived in the area for thousands of years.

These Spanish horses are renowned for their beauty and elegance. They are brave and agile yet docile in nature. These horses are strong and compact with thick manes and tails. Gray is their most common color, but they can also be bay, black, dun, or chestnut. Rarely are they buckskin, pearl, or cremello.

Andalusians have a lifespan of 25 years, and they can run at 50 mph (80 km/h). They’re often used for Western pleasure, show jumping, and other horse show events. Their dramatic and elegant appearance makes them popular for use in film. They’ve appeared in movies such as GladiatorBraveheart, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But we can’t forget Andalusian horses in Spanish culture and history. Since they’ve been in the Spanish area for so long, the horses have a lot of historical and cultural significance.

Andalusians get their name from a region in Spain called Andalusia, which is the southernmost part of the country and the most populous. Many different cultures who’ve occupied the Iberian Peninsula—the Celts, Carthaginians, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Arabs—have influenced the Iberian breeds.

Around 450 BCE, the breed was identified as a talented war horse. In the 13th century, Carthusian monks began to keep written pedigrees when they were given the responsibility of breeding horses by members of the nobility. In the 15th century, Carthusian monasteries formed Andalusian stud farms and used the Andalusian breed to influence the development of other breeds.

The Duke of Newcastle, William Cavendish, said the horses were unnervingly intelligent. In the 16th and 17th centuries, they became the royal horse of Europe, considered the finest in the world—so much so that French and British monarchs among others favored the horses.

When the Thoroughbred was introduced in the mid-18th century, Andalusians lost a bit of their popularity. The breed was threatened in the 19th century when they were stolen or requisitioned in wartime and again when an epidemic hit Spain’s horse population, but each time one herd was kept safe and used to renew the breed.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that Andalusians began to be exported from Spain. In 2010, there were approximately 185,000 of these horses worldwide.

Horse Tours and Routes in Spain

Two girls riding horses in Spain

You can choose from many different horseback riding experiences in Spain. From Andalusia to Catalonia to Cáceres to Ávila to Salamanca, we have options all over the country.

In Andalusia, you can explore stunning landscapes like the Alpujarras, which has some of the best horse riding routes in Spain. The beauty in this area hasn’t changed in 400 years since the Rebellion of the Moors. Here the whitewashed villages cling to the cliffs. You can see a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea on a clear day.

Or explore snow-capped peaks and sun-touched hills all in one excursion on the Sierra Nevada - Tabernas Desert route. You’ll spend part of the journey in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which contains the highest point of continental Spain. On the other part of the tour, you’ll ride through the Tabernas Desert, which is considered the only real desert on the European continent. See the contrast between these two regions on the Spanish trails.

Visit the region of Catalonia, where you can ride from the highlands of the Pyrenees Mountains to the beaches of Costa Brava. Travel through gorgeous mountain landscapes and leafy forests. Then trot down to the numerous beaches along the Mediterranean and enjoy some fresh seafood.

If you want to spend more time in the mountains, you can take the High Pyrenees Trail, where you can ride to an elevation of 9,180 ft (2,800 m). Canter over crests, venture through valleys, and admire the alpine area. Some sections of these mountains even look like you’ve traveled to the Moon.

In Cáceres, you can see Monfragüe, a national park in Spain that is known for its bird life. With beautiful mountain views, pastures, oak woodlands, cliffs, and rock faces, you can’t go wrong in this park. Monfragüe is a designated Special Protection Area for bird life. It has more than 15 regular breeding species of raptors, which includes the world’s biggest colony of the Eurasian black vulture. You may just spot some of these magnificent creatures on your ride.

Or you can jaunt from Trujillo to Guadalupe through the Villuercas Geopark, seeing the stunning sceneries of Dehesa and holm and cork oak woods and pastures. When you reach the end of this pilgrimage, you can visit the Monastery of Guadalupe. Also known as the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe, this monastery is considered one of the most important in the country, making it one of the best places to visit in Spain. It was founded in 1337 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Visit the oldest university in Spain when you ride through two Spanish provinces, Avila and Salamanca. The Spain trails will take you through some breathtaking landscapes that include a Roman bridge and castle and other important monuments. You’ll even get to stay overnight in a monastery.

Browse our catalog for a deeper look at each destination.

Tips for Tourists Planning a Horseback Vacation in Spain

Two horses in the stable

If you are discovering the equestrian world of Spain for the first time, you may not know everything you need to. Not to worry. Here are our best tips for horseback riding in Spain.

1. Book and plan your trip in advance.

Spots on equestrian trips like these can fill up fast. There’s nothing worse than planning a vacation, and coordinating with all your family and friends, only to find no availability when you want to go. So plan far in advance to ensure you book your tour, flights, and anything else you might need for your vacation.

2. Consider your health.

Some of the trails require walking and hiking, include a weight limit, or are physically demanding in other ways. If you’re in good health, you shouldn’t have to worry. But if you have a lower fitness level, make sure you read up about each tour to find the one that is right for you.

3. Consider your experience with horseback riding.

Likewise, if you have little experience with horseback riding, you’ll want to find a tour for beginners. Some of the trails require more experience handling a horse than others.

If you find a tour that you’d really like to experience that’s above your riding level, you may consider taking some lessons locally before your trip, so that when the time comes you’re ready for the horse riding trip of a lifetime.

4. Plan what to pack in advance and bring the essentials.

On a trip like this, you don’t want to leave packing until the last minute. Ensure you have everything ahead of time.

We recommend bringing sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and clothing specifically for the region you’ll be visiting. If you’re going to a hotter region, like the Tabernas Desert, you’ll want clothes that will keep you cool. If you’re traveling in the winter or going somewhere cooler, you’ll want warm clothes.

5. Do your research.

Most of the above tips can be summarized into this one. If you research the different tours and chat with the tour providers, you’ll be in for a treat. If you don’t do the research, you may not understand what you need to do in advance and you may not book the best tour for yourself and your traveling companions. So do the research!


A group of horse riders in Spain

We hope you found this guide to equestrian tourism in Spain helpful. Now when you book your tour and take your trip to Spain, you’ll know all about the history and cultural significance of Andalusian horses. There are many tours available in the various regions of the country, so you’ll be able to find one to fit your tastes. With our tips, you’ll also be able to plan and prepare for your vacation without stress.

Horse Tours Club would love to help you plan your holiday. We provide global horse riding tours and ensure safety and quality for our customers. Book your Spanish horseback riding tour through Horse Tours Club today!