Andalucia - Horse Lover's Heaven

by Hidden Trails 11/14/2011

Southern Spain really is a horse lover’s heaven. There are more equestrian experts in Spain than in any other country in the world, and the Spanish are steeped in the culture of the horse. The most famous Spanish export has to be the Andalucian breed, and the region offers a huge range of horse riding holidays, from mountain treks to beach riding.
So while you’re considering where to go on holiday this year, spare a thought for this beautiful region and read a little about the history of the Andalucian horse, who may be more closely related to your own horses than you realize.

The History Of The Andalucían Horse
The history of the pure bred Andalucían horse goes back centuries, to the time of the Roman conquests of Spain, around 200 BC. The conquerors of Spain can be found writing in praise of the strength and agility of the native breed, and the animal was cross-bred with Arab and Berber breeds.
After the departure of the Moors in the 15th Century the breed was more popular than ever. They were exported to the New World; they were bred with British horses to create the Cleveland Bay, the Connemara of Ireland and almost certainly the Welsh Cob. The Andalucian genes were used in the development of many other breeds, in many countries, including the Neapolitan, the Kladruber from Austria and the Frederiksborg of Denmark. They were also used to develop the famous Lipizzaner breed, used in Vienna.

The Andalucían horse is naturally elegant, with a tendency to hold its head high, on a short arched neck, with a long flowing mane and perfect proportions in the body. They are capable of balletic grace, and are known for their intelligence and determination in learning, which combines with a gentle and affectionate nature, making him a favourite with many horse lovers. Beauty and intelligence make a seductive pairing in any horse, and the Andalucian is sought after as a carriage horse and as an haute école parade specimen.

Riding Holidays In Andalucia
Spain is well known for the quality of its equestrian holidays. It combines glorious weather with beautiful countryside, along with superb horse breeds and a people so welcoming and accepting of all things equestrian that it really is a horse-lovers paradise. The countryside is dotted with cork forests, and the valleys are filled with almond blossom in Spring.
You can trek the mountains of the Sierra Nevada or ride in the Alpujarra hills. Horse riding holidays in Spain are ideal for both beginners and more accomplished riders, with a wide range of treks available, from short hacks to longer trail rides that extend over several days. There is the beautiful Doñana National Park to explore, and equestrian events to visit.
If your passion is for dressage and you want to experience some really advanced techniques, with highly qualified instructors, can find this type of holiday too. It is a great way of really coming to understand the Andalucian horse at its finest. Horses on holidays like this are unlike any you will have ridden before. Alternatively you might like to find a holiday nearer to the coast, and ride along beaches like Cape Trafalgar and El Palmar. These beaches stretch for 10 miles and are a fantastic wide-open location where you can allow your horse to gallop along the sands.
If you like a fast pace and are confident in the saddle then this sort of holiday is perfect for you.

Andalucian Equestrian Events
Perhaps the most famous equestrian event in the south is to be found in Jerez de la Frontera, and is called the Real Escuela del Arte Andaluz. It is similar to the Spanish Riding School displays, and certainly one to include in your itinerary. You can take a tour of the stables and tack rooms, which are spectacular. Some of the tack is a century old, but still being used. Shows are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On other days you can visit and watch the training sessions, which is highly instructive. Anyone with an interest in classical dressage will enjoy this excursion, and it’s a good opportunity to witness some of the finest horses and riders in the world. During the Feria de Caballo you can even participate in the parade on horseback.

For a non riding holiday, have a look at the P & O cruises 2013.

Story by Isabella Woods


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