The PRE Horse. Breed History.
The origin of the PRE Horse is lost in time to mingle with the evolutionary history of horses in general, without a specific date for its appearance in Spain.
However, it is true that in the pre-Roman times, there were already equestrian references in what is known as Spain today.
Roman authors such as Plutarch, Pliny the Elder and Seneca spoke of the horses from Hispania as a beautiful, docile, arrogant and brave animal, ideal for war and for the sports performed in the circuses of the time.
King Philip II of Spain organized the equine herds of his Kingdom and laid down the solid bases for the PRE Horse to reach its peak in forth-coming years. This was possible in 1567 with the creation of the Royal Stables of Cordoba, where the best stallions and mares from the provinces bordering the Guadalquivir River were brought together, which were the most productive horse breeders at that time.
Thus, the Royal Stud Farm was founded and with time, it became known as the National Stud Farm.
Many horses were sent to the American continent and played a decisive role in exploring the lands. Likewise, these horses were the origin and basis for most of the breeds that were subsequently raised there.
In Europe, while Spain enjoyed its Golden Age, one of the most coveted gifts from the Spanish Monarchy was one of its magnificent horses. Soon, Spanish horses earned a great reputation, and were decisive in the birth of Central European breeds thanks to their beauty, temperament, intelligence and their learning skills. At the time, they were most outstanding in the exercises of the incipient Spanish High School, the origin of today’s dressage.
In successive centuries, the Spanish Horse continued its development in the hands of the National Stud farm, individuals and landowners.
Today, there are some 175,000 PRE Horses in the world. The approximate 7,500 breeders are located in more than 65 countries the world over.
Breeds such as the Lipizzaner, Lusitano, Paso Fino and the Central European Warmblood all owe their ancestry to the PRE Horse.
Important information about the PRE Horse
1 | Official Name: PRE Horse
The official name of the breed is Pura Raza Española, or P.R.E., as it appears in the breed Stud Book.
Other names such as Andalusian or Iberian Horse do not correctly describe the breed. In general, these terms are used to describe crossbreeds, which lack the quality and purity, as well as any official documentation or registration from Spanish Stud Book. Carthusian horses are a family (or bloodline) within the PRE Horse.
2 | Official documentation for a PRE Horse: the Registry in Spain is the only one in the world
Only the Stud Book in Spain is authorized to officially register and issue documentation for the PRE Horses, whether in Spain or abroad, the world over. The Stud Book in Spain is the only organization that guarantees breed purity and that all internationally accepted controls for the breed have been applied; this includes DNA confirmation of paternity, written and graphic description and microchip at weaning, evaluation as breeding stock at 3 years-old, assignment of a registration code in the Stud Book, etc.
The passport issued by the Ministry of Agriculture of Spain and ANCCE is the only documentation that guarantees that the horse is a genuine PRE Horse and complies with all the requirements for equine identification imposed by the European Union.
3 | Contents of the Stud Book
The following registers are included in the Stud Book:
a) Register of Births | This register is for those horses, whether colts or fillies, born of breeding stock included in the Main Register and that comply with the officially established conditions for their inclusion in the Stud Book.
b) Main Register | This register includes breeding horses that have turned three years and that are already included in the Register of Births, comply with the breed prototype and have been accredited with the absence of disqualifying defects as established in this appendix, by means of a specific certificate issued by authorized personnel.
Within this Register, there is a special listing for those horses that have passed the qualification tests as laid out in this Law and that is called the Register of Qualified Breeding Stock.
There will also be a Register of Elite Breeding Stock, for those horses that undergo a genetic evaluation within the framework of the selection scheme.
c) Register of Merits | This register is for breeding stock included in the main register, evaluated and/or elite which after confirming their successes in competitions, demonstrate excellent conformation and functionality qualities.
4 | Aptitude for Breeding
1. Horses in the Register of Births will be included the Main Register after having been evaluated (graded) that they comply with the breed prototype and that they are free of any disqualifying defects; authorized personnel will issue the corresponding certificate.
2. Horses in the Main Register will be inspected by the commissions established to this effect, at the request of the owners.
3. To be considered «qualified breeding stock» or «elite breeding stock», Purebred Spanish Horses will be evaluated (graded) to prove their locomotive, genetic and reproductive qualities, with the following types:
«Qualified Breeding Stock» | Are considered those horses, three years of age or over, both males and females, that meet the standard for basic aptitude as breeding stock, according to the criteria established for the breed prototype or conformation, and pass a functional test and examination of their reproductive system and a veterinary verification may be considered Qualified Breeding Stock. This qualification appears in the horse’s passport or genealogical card.
«Elite Breeding Stock» | Are those breeding horses, seven years of age or over, both males and females, which have already been included in the Register of Qualified Breeding Stock and that have undergone a genetic evaluation within the framework of the selection scheme. This evaluation includes the verification of conformational, functional and reproductive parameters of the horses and of their descendants and siblings. Although they have not been included in the Qualified Breeding Stock listing, those horses, whether males or females, and whose descendents have achieve outstanding competitive success within the framework of the improvement plan for the breed, can also be included in the list of Elite Breeding Stock.
4. Artificial reproduction is authorized for those horses included in the registers of qualified and/or elite breeding stock, under the conditions that are officially determined.
P.R.E. breed prototype
A | General characteristics
PRE Horses have average volume, intermediate lines with a sub-convex to straight profile, with proportionate conformation, remarkable general harmony and great beauty, with significant sexual dimorphism.
Their paces are brilliant, energetic, rhythmic and elastic with substantial elevation and extension and pronounced facility for collection.
Their energetic temperament, noble, docile and well-balanced personality combines with their great capacity for learning.
B | CONFORMATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS
1º The Head | Well proportioned, average length, lean, with a straight to slightly convex frontonasal profile. The medium sized ears are well placed. The forehead is wide, and slightly convex to house large, lively and expressive triangular eyes that are slightly arched without surpassing the profile.
Relatively long and moderately narrow face (more so in the mares), slightly rounded and not fleshy with a tapered nose, softly and gently curving from the face. The nostrils are wide, non-projecting, surrounded by broad, non-fleshy cheek, with a long discreetly arched edge.
2º The Neck | Of average size and length, lightly arched and muscular (less so, in the mares). Well inserted at the head and trunk. Abundant and silky mane.
3º The Body | In proportion and robust. Wither discreetly wide and well defined, gently following into the back line. Consistent back, muscled and almost flat. Short, wide loins, well muscled and somewhat arched, well joined to the back and the croup. Croup of average length, rounded width and gently sloping. A low set-on tail that lies between the buttocks, with thick long and often wavy hair. Deep and broad chest. Ribs well arched, long and deep. Extensive flanks and correct stomach.
4º Forelimbs | Shoulder blade, long, well-muscled, oblique and elastic. Strong shoulder, with a good angle. Potent forearm, of average length. Well developed and lean knee. Cannon bone in proportion with a well defined and extensive tendon. Lean, well-defined fetlock, with little hair. Pasterns with good conformation, slope and angle, of proportionate length. Compact hooves, well developed and balanced.
5º Pelvic area or hind quarters | Muscled thigh, lightly arched and muscled buttock and long hind leg, Hock strong wide and neat. The regions located below the hock joint will be identical to those described for the forelimbs. In both, the limbs must be correctly aligned.
C | Phaneroptical Characteristics
Fine, short hair. Dominant colors are gray and bay but other colors are acceptable.
D | Behavior and Temperament
Rustic, sober, balanced and resistant horses. Long suffering and energetic. Noble and docile. Learn easy and are able to adapt to a variety of uses and situations.
E | Functional Characteristics and Aptitudes
Excellent aptitude for performing a variety of functions, with a good response to the rider’s aids and with a good mouth, making them obedient, easily understanding the rider and extraordinarily comfortable.
Their main use is for riding, being ideal for schooling work on the flat (high school, dressage and doma vaquera), for rejoneo (horseback bull fighting), acoso & derribo (chasing and testing of young bulls), for driving, working with livestock, field activities and other equestrian disciplines. Their movements are agile, high, extensive, harmonic and rhythmic. They have a special predisposition for collection and turns on the haunches.
The Spanish Dressage team won the team silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, only surpassed by Germany.
Two PRE horses were part of this team: Invasor and Oleaje—ridden by Rafael Soto and Ignacio Rambla—only 8 years after their first Olympic appearance.
This was the cherry on the cake for one of the most brilliant equestrian careers. Atlanta ‘96 was the first time that the Spanish dressage team reached an Olympic final. In fact, it was the first time that PRE horses had participated in such a prestigious event. Their names: Evento, Flamenco and Invasor (the latter as reserve). Invasor was the youngest horse of all those entered for dressage, which is an example of the breed’s intelligence and willingness to work.
Sydney 2000 was the next step. The team included Invasor and Distinguido who finished in 7th place.
Spain’s progress was more than outstanding at the 2002 JEREZ WEG, where Spain won the bronze medal, again with Invasor and Distinguido.
At the 2003 European Championships at Hickstead brought a silver medal for the Spanish national team.
In Competition Carriage Driving, the Purebred Spanish Horse has participated in several World Championships with Juan Robles Marchena and Antonio Carrillo Baeza as the most noted whips.
The PRE horse was used as foundation stock the creation of several Central European Warmblood breeds. Today, PRE sires are being used improve a good number of sports horse stud farms.
Their mental balance, intelligence, willingness to work and harmony of form bestow the PRE horse a special capacity for collection. The official 2002 JEREZ WEG video showed Gran Prix exercises with horses and riders implementing what the judges considered the very best performance. INVASOR and Rafael Soto appeared on three occasions: passage, collected canter and canter pirouettes.
ANCCE invests a great deal of effort into promoting of the use of PRE horses for riding. To achieve this, a pioneering initiative was undertaken—the creation of a High-Performance Center dedicated exclusively to the Purebred Spanish Horse.
This Center is located in the Chapin competition complex in Jerez, host city of the 2002 WEG, with world-class facilities.
Rafael Soto, renowned Spanish Olympic Dressage rider, is a consultant to the PRE High-Performance Center. Dutch trainer Henk Bergen is a special collaborator.
The objective of the CAR-ANCCE High Performance Center is to create a reserve of horses and riders so that in the not so distant future they can compete at top level competitions.
ANCCE also runs a program of competitions throughout Spain, known as the ANCCE CUP. These competitions include the disciplines of Doma Vaquera, Alta Escuela, Show Jumping, Dressage and Carriage Driving. Considerable economic prizes are awarded at these competitions, which also serve as a testing ground horses and riders who are starting out in the competitive world.