Spain has a long history of producing some of the most beautiful horse breeds in the world. These horse breeds are special and unique in their own ways, with many of them being rare.
Spain has always valued their horses. Their love for these majestic creatures dates all the way back to ancient times. Since then, Spain has produced many exquisite breeds of horses.
From the well-loved Andalusian horse to the lesser-known Jaca Navarra horse, Spain is the home to many stunning breeds of horses. Each of these breeds are treasured for their distinctive characteristics.
Here are 15 Native Spanish Horse Breeds
The Andalusian originated in the Spanish Province of Andalusia and is one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world. Also known as the Pure Spanish Horse or PRE, this special breed has been considered the “royal horse of Europe”.
Included in our most beautiful horse breeds list, Andalusians are revered for their beautiful way of moving and their elegant builds. These courageous horses have strong yet athletic builds, with lovely thick arched necks, defined heads, and powerful legs, most typically being gray or bay in color.
Though Andalusians have been used as warhorses and even in bullfighting, they are now commonly used in both English and western disciplines.
Dating back to Roman times, the Asturcón is a rare breed of pony that originated in Northern Spain. Also called the Asturian pony, the breed is known for its unusual ambling gait that is comfortable to ride.
Thanks to their smooth gait, they have commonly been used as a mount for ladies. Ranging in height from 11.2-12.2 hands, these ponies have a straight profile, deep chest, and strong legs. With many living in the wild, the breed has unfortunately been considered endangered since 1981.
The Galician breed originates in northwest Spain and is one of the oldest breeds of ponies. Living in a wet, rocky environment, these ponies are known for their hardy nature.
With herds of these ponies still roaming free, they have become a popular tourist attraction. In addition to being an attraction, these ponies are also used for meat and riding. They have short, strong builds that make them sturdy.
Native to the Navarre region of northern Spain, the Burguete is a heavy draft horse. Unfortunately, this breed is so rare they are in great danger of going extinct, with only a few hundred left.
These horses have strong, powerful builds. Their bodies are very well-muscled and compact. They are typically bay, black, or chestnut.
This small breed of horse is native to the northern region of Spain. They have sturdy builds and are capable of living in tough environments.
The Jaca Navarra is so rare that its numbers are in the hundreds. They are considered to be endangered, as there are so few of them left in the wild. However, efforts are being made to preserve the breed.
The Hispano-Arabe is a cross between the Andalusian and Arabian. Originating in Spain, these horses, though uncommon, are loved in many countries.
They are athletic and agile, making them versatile horses. Thanks to their athletic nature, they are commonly used in jumping, dressage, and even cattle herding. These elegant horses are known for their arched necks, refined builds, and graceful way of moving.
Developed by crossing the native Andalusian with the imported Breton draft horse, the Hispano-Breton is mainly found in the Castile and Leon areas of Spain. This heavy horse has often been used for agricultural work.
They are a hardy breed with a strong build, standing around 15 hands. Many of these horses roam freely. Unfortunately, they are another rare breed that is considered endangered.
Also read: 12 rare horse breeds that could go extinct
Originally from the Losa Valley, the Losino is small and refined. These ponies typically stand between 13.2-14.2 hands and though they have an elegant build, they are still hardy.
They have been used for riding and driving by children and petite adults. Most of them will have black coats or some variation of black. Sadly, they are considered endangered as their numbers are in the hundreds, but efforts are being made to preserve them.
Native to the island of Majorca in the Balearic Islands, the Mallorquin is a rare Spanish breed. Since there are not many horses in this breed, their status is considered to be critical.
In order to be registered, the Mallorquin horse must be black with no white leg markings. They generally stand between 15-16 hands, with thick, arched necks and refined bone structure. In Spain, they are commonly used as riding horses and are often ridden in parades.
Alos, read our guide on 12 extinct horse breeds.
Indigenous to the marshes of the Guadalquivir River, the Marismeno horse is another rare breed. They were not considered to be a breed until 2003 in order to conserve them from extinction.
Today, this breed is primarily found in the Doñana National Park. They are known to have strong builds and be intelligent in nature. Though they are a new breed, not much is known about their origins, but they are believed to have descended from the primitive Iberian horse.
The Menorquin horse is Native to the Balearic Islands in Spain and is sadly considered to be endangered. Though their history is not clear, many people believe they are descended from the Thoroughbred, Andalusian, and Arabian.
They are commonly used for doma menorquina, which is Spanish for Menorcan dressage, and are also often used in festivals. They must be black or a variation of black but are allowed to have white markings on their legs. Strong and athletic, they have arched necks and elegant, medium builds.
Included in our list of black horse breeds, the Merens horse is native to northern Spain and southern France. These hardy horses have been used for years to transport people and goods throughout the mountains.
They typically stand between 14.1-15.1 hands, but some may be smaller. Though they have elegant, yet sporty builds, they are known for their strength and can only be registered if they are black. Today, they are commonly used for riding and driving.
The Monchino horse is native to Valle de Guriezo in the Cantabria region of Spain. Monchino, which means highlander, is where they come from.
This breed typically roams free, with a few horses domesticated for riding or meat. They are said to have a docile temperament and often stand around 14 hands, coming in bay and black. Though they have been around for a long time, they are considered to be endangered.
Native to the Andalusian region of Spain, the rare Retuerta horse is said to have descended from Iberian horses. They are considered to be one of the oldest breeds native to Europe.
Standing around 16 hands, the Retuerta has a sturdy build. Though some have been domesticated for riding and agricultural work, most of them roam free. They are most commonly found in the Donana National Park.
The Pottok or Pottoka pony is native to the Basque mountain area in the Pyrenees region. They are believed to be descendants of the horses depicted in ancient cave paintings.
These sturdy ponies typically stand around 11-14.2 hands. Though they were once commonly used as pit ponies, they are now being used as riding mounts for children and are becoming more common. Due to their hardy nature, some of these ponies still roam in the wild.
Spanish Horses Have Influence Many Worldwide Horse Breeds
Spanish horses have also played a significant role in many other breeds. Many American Mustangs have Spanish blood in them, from when the Spanish first brought their horses to the continent of North America in the early 1500s.
Paso Finos and Purvian Pasos both owe their origins to Spanish horses. These two gaited breeds were developed from the stock of Spanish horses conquistadors brought over. Over the years through careful breeding, the two breeds were created.
Even the world-famous Lipizzaner horses were developed from Spanish horses. In 1580, Spanish horses were brought to the Imperial Stud in Lipizza. Until the 18th century, Spanish horses, like the Andalusian, continued to be bred into Lippizaner stock, which was originally referred to as Karst or Spanish Karst.
Many people associate the Andalusian with the Lusitano. Though closely related to the Andalusian, the Lusitano horse is from Lusitania, which today is part of Portugal. In fact, the Lusitano and Andalusian shared the same studbook for a long time.
It wasn’t until 1967 that Spanish and split the studbook, separating the two breeds. Before the split, the horses were known as Andalusians or Iberian horses. After splitting, the Portuguese section of the Iberian horse became the Lusitano.
Also, read our interesting guide on Portuguese horse breeds.
Today, many breeds can be traced back to have some Spanish blood in their pedigrees, even if it is just a small amount. Spain has a long history of horses and continues to play an important role in the equestrian world.