Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Hispano-árabe: an article translation


Translation of text written by: Laura ÁGUEDA (this article was published in 2010 as part of the promotion of the breed within Spain and to bring into the Stud Book existing horses that had previously been missed out at the start of Spain’s Hispano-Árabe breed protection and regeneration plan).

The idea of ​​improving the characteristics of the Spanish horse with Arab horses came from within the Military Stud in 1883, with the primary objective of providing greater versatility for the first military campaigns.

What better way to start this portrayal of the Hispano-Árabe horse than by quoting Don Alvaro Domecq y Díez from the preface in the book The Horse in Spain: "The Spanish horse crossed well with the Arab and achieved a masterpiece, the Hispano-Árabe, which relieved the race and provided more speed without losing an iota of arrogance."

But why did it take so long to make, at least consciously, this crossing, when the Arab has been used since antiquity to improve other breeds? It has historically been the blood that has improved most of the breeds of the Western world. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the need for fast and light cavalry lead to a requirement for the Arabian horse, to go back to the origins of all warm blooded horses; to offset the heaviness and slowness of the calmer temperament breeds, giving rise to new breeds such as the French Thoroughbred riding horse or English Thoroughbred.

In search of the Arabian horse
Believe it or not, in the Iberian Peninsula the relationship of the Andalusian horse or Spanish to Arab came quickly. During the conquest of Al-Andalus, the horse used in the raids by Berber tribes who rode from North Africa was the Barb. This probably explains the great similarity of the one with the Spanish horse, but not so much resemblance with the Arab, the horse in the Middle East. Not until the late nineteenth century when, thanks to the initiative and the good work of the military, buying commissions were created to travel to the places of origin of the Arabian horse and there buy the best specimens to improve the national herd. The same happened in other countries like England or France.

The search of the Arabian horse by Spanish soldiers in some of their home countries, Turkey, Syria, Mesopotamia and Palestine, is beautifully reflected as if from a travel book in Search for the Arabian Horse by Cavalry Commander Luis Azpeitia de Moros (1905). The idea of ​​improving the characteristics of the Spanish horse with the Arab horse was therefore conceived within the Military Stud in 1883. Its primary objective was to provide greater versatility for the first military campaigns: functionality and athletic features in the Arabian horses would be sought for seven months by Luis Azpeitia de Moros and his fellow military commission created ad hoc to complete this mission headed by the Commander of Cavalry Agustín de Quinto. "On May 13, 1905, and pursuant to the loyal order of 1st of that month, I left Madrid in the direction of Marseille, accompanied by Administration Officer Mr. Fernández and second, Military veterinarian Mr Viedma, who were part of the Commission for the purchase of livestock in the East, "says Luis Azpeitia de Moros in his book in Search of the Arabian Horse.

Years ago, in the late sixteenth century, there was a phenomenon the reverse of that describe now in this article. At that time foreign blood was introduced, but looking for a type of horse for its form/physical build and functionality was not the significant factor. The monarch Philip III appointed a Neapolitan director of the Yeguada de Córdoba, Lieutenant Tiutti, and in this matter to import foreign stallions to provide the Spanish horse with greater bulk to make it more suitable for driving large carriages as had become fashionable in Italy. But the Pure Spanish horse was a riding and shooting, saddle horse, and to gain in volume lost it the agility and beauty. Equestrian portraits by Velázquez are good examples of this.

Velázquez painting of Philip III

 However, before this process of "improvement" of the Spanish horse, you can sense from the features derived traits that may indicate some kind of genetic cross with Arab. So the horses on which Philip II and the Duke of Lerma were painted by Rubens are light but strong animals with finer necks and small heads.

Rubens painting of Philip II
In any case, what is always sought in the union with the Arab is their strength and versatility. Breeding with the purebred Spanish horse would result in a more lively and lighter horse than this; slim and fine while tough and strong, the main character traits are its reliability and nobility, and what stands out above all else are the virtues of functionality. For its hardiness and resistance this is a horse suitable for field work disciplines as well as close contact work such as Acoso y Derribo, el Rejoneo o la Doma Vaquera, where it can display its own features of speed and agility. It is also ideal as an animal of leisure to enjoy the popular festivities, associated with the corralling of bulls and wild cattle, still held today in many towns of our country.

In all the ways mentioned, the rapport of the horse with the rider is paramount and the Hispano-Árab is in this sense a singular horse, which submits and obeys without hesitation when ridden, or at least when ridden wisely. He has also done well from this coupling of Arab and Spanish. And his strength - we must not forget developed in the extreme conditions of the desert - is proving to be a horse that when well-trained may be optimal for endurance. But also some specimens compete successfully in disciplines such as eventing, jumping or dressage. In the end the temperance and arrogance of the Spanish as well as their body mass, coupled with the strength, elasticity and beauty of the Arab make the Hispano-Árabe a horse worthy of being taken into account.

The historical antecedents of the Hispano-Árabe beyond the possible crossing of blood due to chance, that has been able to make its mark in equine specimens showing many morphological traits of character of both breeds from long ago, dates back to the late nineteenth century. With the creation of Yeguada Militar (the Military Stud) by Royal Order 26th of June 1893, under the rule of Queen María Cristina, in the Dehesa of Moratalla (Córdoba) it was intended to: get products to nurture the deposits of stallions; producing bloodstock chosen to serve for farmers to regenerate their herds; testing  crossings -  such as the Hispano-Árabe; and rebuild the Purebred Spanish horse ... The seventy-eight mares that were originally on the roster of Yeguada Militar  were distributed in the following sections: Purebred Spanish, Hispano-Árabe, Thoroughbred, Anglo-Arab, Hispano-Norfolk and Hispano-Percheron, and most of them were donated by breeders and owners of the time.

Registration Book
Thus, and although in practice it is a century-old breed it is not until 1986 that the Hispano-Árabe is born as a breed with legal status, that is with a book of recorded pedigree or Stud Book, although this was initially managed by the Ministry of Agriculture (in the care of the Cria), it now depends on the association that brings together all farmers and lovers of the Hispano-Árabe; the UEGHá, the Unión Española de Ganaderos de Pura Raza Hispano-Árabe. Under Royal Decree 662/2007 of 25 May 2007 on the selection and breeding of pure-bred horses, which among other things sets the standard for recognition of associations for the keeping of Stud Books, by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, it was settled that the management of the Breed Book  pass to the UEGHá. http://www.caballohispanoarabe.com/  And since then it will be through this association that any interested farmer can apply for registration of existing horses of this breeding in the auxiliary register of Hispano-Árab breed (Nb: this auxiliary register is only open for horses residing in Spain). For this there is a reference document; the Order of January 20 DEF/94/2004 which details the assessment procedure for entry in the main or auxiliary register for horses of the breed of Hispano-Árabe.....

From the UEGHá website a useful tool to help with breeding Hispano-Árabe’s and to see the quality of the breed is the on-line catalogue in pdf format of the annual genetic evaluations carried out in Spain. http://www.caballohispanoarabe.com/reproductores2011/index.html    

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