The history of the Pure Spanish Horse is inextricably part of the history of Spain. Woven in, as coloured threads of the tapestry of time, these are threads that may not be totally provable, but which are fitting to the dream that is the PRE. Dreams of the past are a necessary element in any culture. They bring a rich feeling of generational continuity, and give an identity to a people and their treasures.
The photo above shows the "Past and Future. Grandsons of Olympic Dressage horse Evento - Quermes and Querques, 4 year old PREs.©"
The balance comes in allowing the dreams to colour the past without permitting them to rule the present. For breeders, facts and current realities are essential foundations for a future. You will find a dozen different stories about the origins of the Spanish Horse. In the case of the PRE, whatever impacts a breeder - and indeed the breed itself - must be recognised and acknowledged. For the rest – well, we will leave each to his own dream.
If one is unversed in the differences between Oldenburg, Trakehner and Holsteiner the tendency is to generalise and speak of Warmbloods. Likewise, the horses from Spain and Portugal are often grouped together and called Andalusians or Iberians. Other terms that are heard are Carthusian and Lusitano. Breed specifics demand that we must be just that – specific. But this is Spain, so even specifics tend to come with a touch of the Spanish smile.
Above: 6 year old PRE Olimpo demonstrating the Spanish approach to stress.©
There is one central Stud Book, held in Spain, for all Purebred Spanish horses. Genealogical records span the years, classic stud names reach back into the past, and family trees come alive. Paperwork in Spain is a national sport, second only to football. As with the recent performance by the Spanish National Team at the World Cup in South Africa, the records are detailed and precise, completely manageable, and well executed. Every PRE worldwide is entered in this Stud Book, and because of the diligent record keeping it is easy to trace a horse and his history.
Pause before you begin: For every step in the process listed below, add: ”….and all the relevant applications, forms and statements are completed and submitted to the correct department”.
The PRE is a closed breed. A horse may only be entered into the Stud Book if both his parents appear there as PREs who have passed the Revision for Basic Breed grading. (see below). At the covering of a mare, a Covering Certificate is issued. At birth, a foal is visited by an appointed vet, and blood taken for DNA. The foal is entered in the Stud Book. He is said to be ‘Inscribed’, and he is issued with a Document of Inscription and Genealogy.
Above: PRE foal Arco-Iris P at 3 days old. Grey PREs are born dark, but there is a high possibility that she will remain bay.©
At 3-4 years of age, the youngsters are presented for Revision at the first level of Breed Grading. This is a physical evaluation of basic race characteristics to determine if they are considered representative of the Breed, and that they do not have any major faults that would disqualify them. Faults that would disqualify include being below the specified height, showing a falling crest, or - in the case of a stallion - being cryptorchid.
Once deemed suitable to continue the breed they are given the Grading 'Basica' – Basic. This is noted in the Stud Book Records, and they are now said to be Revised. In the past this grading used to be known as a horse being 'Apto' - literally, ‘suitable’. This is no longer the terminology used. The Basica is the Basic Grading, and is almost a given. Regrettably, there have been cases of sellers presenting this grading (usually to less informed overseas buyers) as though it were a notable and exceptional achievement. The fact is, probably 98% of PREs pass their Basic grading. It is far more important to note if a horse over 4 years old does NOT have the Basic grading – that could be a warning signal.