The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944 Page: 251
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The Excellence of the Spanish Horse
Iberian Peninsula were improved chiefly by over seven centuries
of crossbreeding with the fine Arabian animals brought by the
Moors when they invaded southwest Europe.
On what authority did FernAndez de Andrada write? Espasa
states that he was of noble birth, instructed in letters, and was
highly regarded by his contemporaries, that he had a passion
for horsemanship, and that his writings on horses and eques-
trians were drawn largely from first hand experience.2 Con-
sidering these qualifications, his fourth contention, as shown
above and expressed in the translation from his De la natvraleza
del cavallo which follows, merits consideration.
Emanuel Philiberto, Duke of Saboya and Prince of Piamonte, said that
in this world there were three things in which Spain excelled: first, in
the fineness of her gold; second, in the strength of her men; and third,
in the beauty and swiftness of her horses. We shall treat of the latter,
as they are our profession. We shall discuss the topic briefly by pointing
out the provinces of Spain which produce the best horses, without con-
fusing the mind with references to all the horses of the world. Absyrtus,
in an account which discusses nearly all the horses of the universe, says
that the Spanish horses are large of body and have a fine and beautiful
stance, they are proud, have beautiful heads, equally well proportioned
bodies, and strength to endure the hardships of travel. He adds that they
are broad and heavy but do not require much spurring because they are
naturally swift, and above all he commends them for their good temper
and loyalty. Bohemius states that Spain was always noted for the beauty
and swiftness of her horses and that the rich saddle trappings indicate the
antiquity of horsemanship in Spain. Even Solinus and Pomponius Mela
write that Spain was always rich in natural products and particularly in
horses. Strabo says the same thing, adding that the Spanish horses are
as good as the horses from Parthia, for they excel all the others of the
world in gentleness, speed, and beauty, a fact which our experience veri-
fies; and although it is true that all Spanish horses are exceptional, still
some are better than others, and some men praise one group of horses
while others praise another. So Martial, after praising his native land,
which today we call Calatayud, for its wealth of beautiful horses, says
that in Asturias, which is commonly Viscaya and borders upon Cantabria,
there were many good horses though they were small. Pliny stressed
the various qualities of the horses of Galicia, another lauded the excellence
of those from the Alcarez Mountains, and still others those from the
kingdom of Granada; while there were authors who said the best and most
perfect horses came from the kingdom of Murcia. There is no doubt that
the men who praised these provinces had never been in Andalucia, nor
had they ever seen the Andalucian horses, or they would not have dared
to rob Andalucia of its glory. In the abundance and breeding of superb
horses no province of Spain equals Andalucia. It is so fertile in grass
2Espasa, Enciclopedia universal ilustrada europeo-americana, under
FernAndez de Andrada, Pedro.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 47, July 1943 - April, 1944, periodical, 1944; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146054/m1/282/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.