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Breed Standard for the Pure Spanish Horse

P.R.E. ~ Pura Raza Española ~ Pure Spanish Horse ~ Andalusian


P.R.E. Pure Spanish Horse

Breed Traits & Characteristics


The Andalusian is strongly built, yet extremely elegant.

The typical  Andalusian stands 15.0 to 16.3 hands.

The head is of medium length, rectangular and lean.

The head in profile is slightly convex or straight with a broad forehead and  well-placed ears.

The eyes are alive, oval, and placed within an orbital arch.

The face is straight or softly convex, moderately narrow, and without excess flesh.

The neck is reasonably long, broad, yet elegant and well-crested in stallions.

The mane is thick and abundant.

Well defined withers precede a short back; the quarters are broad & strong.

The croup is rounded and of medium length.

The tail is abundant, set low, and lies tightly against the body.


Meters ~ Hands


1.5            14.3 H

1.52          15.0 H

1.55          15.1 H

1.56          15.15 H

1.57          15.2 H

1.58          15.2 H

1.59          15.25 H

1.6            15.3 H

1.61          15.35 H

1.62          15.375 H

1.63          16 H

1.64          16.05 H

1.65          16.1 H

1.66          16.15 H

1.67          16.175 H

1.68          16.2 H

1.69          16.25 H


"The perfect horse is only a model that exists in our imagination…

   The wise selection consists of avoiding the serious defects and looking for how to complement the not so serious and slight defects."

             Miguel Angel de Cárdenas

Mastil, Champion of Spain



from ANCCE

A | General characteristics

Horses are eumetric (average volume), have intermediately-straight top-lines with sub-convex to straight profiles (sub-convex contour). With a well-proportioned conformation, proportionality index: height at the withers*100/shoulder-ischial length (Distance of the straight segment from the union of the scapular-humerus joint to the point of buttock (ischial tuberosity) between 95 and 105, notable general harmony and very beautiful, with appreciable sexual dimorphism.


The height at the withers should be between 1.54 and 1.72 meters for stallions and 1.52 and 1.70 meters for mares. Horses have paces that are ground-covering, brilliant, agile, energetic, cadenced and elastic, with appreciable elevation and extension, notable ease for collection and turns on the haunches. Their temperament must be spirited, noble, docile and well balanced, with a great capacity for learning. 

B | Morphological characteristics

The averages for the various conformation traits (obtained from zoometric measurements and the lineal conformation score) are updated and published annually on PRE Stud Book web site. The characteristics of the various morphologic regions in a PRE are described in this section, and are related to the average values for the breed, as published every year. 


In proportion, average length, lean, with a sub-convex frontal profile, with minimal convexity of the frontal-nasal union. Ears are medium sized, proportionate to its head size, very mobile, well inserted and parallel and facing forward. Slightly wide and discretely convex forehead. Lively, expressive triangular eyes, with non-protruding orbital arches. Relatively long and moderately narrow face (more in mares), sub-convex and free of flesh. Nose tapered into a soft curve projected from the face. Wide, non-protruding nostrils. Broad, lean cheeks, with long discreetly arched edges. Fine and mobile upper lip.


Of an average size and length, proportionate with the height and length of the body (less in mares), with the throat contained and well inserted into the trunk, above the scapular-humeral union. The upper edge is slender, forming an ascending arch from the withers to the forehead (less arched and straighter in mares). Abundant and silky mane.


In proportion and robust. Withers discretely broad and prominent, in a smooth extension following the line of the back. Consistent back, muscled and almost flat. Short, broad, muscled and somewhat arched loin and slightly ascending to the croup. Croup well proportioned, slightly longer than wide (somewhat wider in mares), rounded and sloping slightly. In adult horses, the height at the croup is lower than the withers. Tail inserted low and well between the buttocks, with abundant, long and often wavy hair. Broad and deep chest. Moderately arched, long and deep ribs. Extended flanks and correct belly.

Forelegs or forehand

Long, muscled and oblique shoulder. Strong and well¬sloped, medium length forearm. Well developed, lean knee. Cannon of proportionate length and well-marked, ample tendon. Lean, clear fetlock with little hair. Pasterns with good conformation, slope and direction and of a proportionate length. Compact, well balanced and well developed hoof.

Hind legs or hindquarters

Muscled thigh, lightly arched and muscled buttocks and long gaskin. Strong, big and clean hocks. The angle of the hock, when viewed laterally, may be slightly closed, thus facilitating elevated movements and collection. The body areas located below the tarsus joints should have identical characteristics to those indicated for the forelegs.

C | Phaneroptic features

Fine short coat. Grays and bays are dominant; the presence of white patches, or excessive white on head and extremities, or any other shape or size throughout the body are not an acceptable train for this breed.

D | Functional characteristics and aptitudes

They have brilliant, agile, energetic, cadenced and elastic paces, with appreciable elevation and extension, notable ease for collection and turns on the haunches. Their walk is straight, regular and ground-covering. Trot is elastic, suspended, regular, cadenced and elegant, with active use of the hindquarters, flexing the joints in collection to push forward, elevating and flexing the knees. Their canter is fluid, has impulsion and is elastic with regular strides. Horses have excellent aptitudes to carry out a variety of functions, has an easy and quick response to its rider’s aids, thus they are obedient, with easy rapport with the rider and extraordinarily comfortable. Their main service is under saddle, finding great ease in Dressage (Spanish High School, Dressage and Doma Vaquera), rejoneo (mounted bull-fighting), acoso y derribo (testing young fighting bulls), carriage driving, working with livestock and other farm chores as well as other equestrian disciplines.

E | Behavioral characteristics and temperament

They are rustic, sober, well-balanced and tough animals. Energetic, noble and docile. They learn well and easily adapt to diverse jobs and situations.

F | Disqualifying defects

Deformity of the supper neckline (fallen crest), ewe or inverted neck, cryptorchidism and non-accidental monorchidism. Also considered as disqualifying defects are: a height of less than 1.54 m for stallions and 1.52 m for mares, a proportionality index of less than 95 or greater than 105, concave or ultra-convex frontal profiles. The presence of white spots on the head when this invades the eye sockets or the entire face and the limbs, when the socks invade the knee or the hock, or any sized spot on the body, as with eyes that differ in color or blue eyes when that color is not a characteristic of the coat color, and in general, the presence of serious defects, which differ from the breed prototype, detected during the assessment process.

G | Penalizing defects

Those stated for the head and neck, when these do not reach the degree for disqualification, rounded and protruding nostrils, thick upper lip, chunky and upper lip with limited mobility, over-shot and under-shot jaw, the head-neck union is chunky, hardly differentiated and very deep, there is a lack of harmony and disproportion between body areas and dimensions, hollow/sunken back, height at the withers of > 170 cm for mares and >172 cm for stallions, being higher at the point of the croup than at the withers, presence of melanomas in the perineum, inadequate limb alignment and movement with poor elevation, irregular, poor extension and, especially, dishing and ambling.

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P.R.E. Height Requirements


Minimum height requirements of the horse at the withers is not less than 1.54m for stallions and 1.52m for mares, measured with a stick.

PRE Height Requirements
PRE Accepted Colors

P.R.E Pura Raza Espanola Accepted Colors


According to Juan Llamas, in his book This is the Spanish Horse, in 1765, the Spanish registry contained approx. 73% greys, with the remainder primarily bay and black.  The Royal Stud maintained a preference for grey until the French invasion, at which point the fashion for the bay color was preferred  over grey. In 1928, the Stud Book showed a mere 19% grey horses. 


Tracking back to the 1700s, blacks were more common in the past, according to Juan Carlos Altamirano. His Book “History of the Carthusian Horses” states that the registry of the Carthusian stud in Jerez contained 30% blacks in 1747.  Roughly fifty years later, about 16% were black, a decline thought to have been related to the fact that black horses were mainly used to pull funeral processions.


Presently in Spain, grey represents about 70% of the PREs.  In the USA, the number is closer to 80% grey, 15% bay and 5% black. 


The color chestnut was until very recently, not accepted in the Spanish Stud Book and had been a disqualification for over 30 years. Then in 2002, Cria Caballar agreed to allow chestnuts into the registry.


All solid colors, including buckskin and dilutes, are now accepted in the stud book although still quite rare.

Grey Coat Color

Technically grey its not a color gene, but a masking agent that acts upon and is dominant over every other color. Any horse that carries the grey factor will eventually become grey. A horse can be heterozygous or homozygous, carrying either one or two grey factors.


A grey horse is born with a base coat color of black, bay, chestnut, buckskin, etc. The horse will exhibit white hairs that may appear at birth around the eyes, face, top of the tail or legs. It is also possible that the white hairs may not appear until many months later.


Eventually, the coat becomes grey to white and may transform anywhere from 3 to 15 years. A variety of shading affects are seen, from a rose grey, slate or silver; to a dirty color with different patches and shaded areas. The mane and tail may go yellow or brown, and the coat may or may go through a dapple phase with either light dapples on a black background or dark dapples on a white background.  Dapples may be accompanied by black points, mane and tail or a white mane/tail.

vasallo ii.jpg

DNA Gray Testing Now Available

There is now for the first time a commercially available DNA color test for the grey factor. Animal Genetics offers DNA testing and detection of the gene mutation responsible for Gray and the determination of Gray zygosity.  See the Animal Genetics website at


The genetic mutation that produces graying in horses was located in 2008 by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden. The gray mutation is caused by a 4.6-kb duplication in intron 6 of STX17.

Rosengren Pielberg G, Golovko A, Sundström E, Curik I, Lennartsson J, (More Authors) A cis-acting regulatory mutation causes premature hair graying and susceptibility to melanoma in the horse. Nature Genetics. 2008 Aug;40(8):1004-9. Epub 2008 Jul 20.


A purebred Andalusian is born with a different birth coat color than the adult color.  They shed the foal guard coat at different ages, some as early as a few months, others take up to 2 yrs. Like in humans, the greys are not born grey, they have a base coat color which eventually turns grey due to a dominant factor which acts upon their color gene. 


Bay Coat Color

Bay comes in a variety of shades and genetically contains the agouti factor that suppresses black to the points. Bay is dominant over black. A bay foal is born with a black mane and tail & legs the same as the body coat or lighter.  Once the foal coat sheds out, black legs will appear.


Body coloring may vary from a light chestnut shade to very dark or from a distance can even appear black. It may be copper, reddish mahogany, dull brown or golden like rich honey.  Black bay is almost indistin-guishable from black from a distance. They will typically have brown shading behind the eye, around the muzzle, behind the elbow or in the groin area.


On rare occasions, a bay coat may have a reflective metallic sheen that glows in the direct sunlight.  This is reportedly very rare and sought after in Spain. DNA testing is available for the agouti factor which produces the bay coat color.


Black foals are mousy colored at birth, with a silvery or cream tint, never red. Gradually they shed out their foal coat to black, typically at 6 months up to 2 years. Toltec M shown at 2 months old far left and at 5 months old.

Black Coat Color


Black Andalusians are never born black. They are likely to be a mousy color (above left) or sometimes fawn colored at birth with light legs.  They eventually shed out their foal coats at 4-6 months depending on the time of year and black. Some lines of Andalusians will not go fully black until they are 4-6 years old and are mistaken for a black bay.  The coat may easily sun fade with a reddish or golden cast, darkening each year until the horse is obviously black.  There are different variations of the black coat color. Nutrition particularly minerals can also play a part in the shade of black, a deficiency may cause a black to fade to reddish. The black gene can be DNA tested.





Bay coats and on the rare occasion blacks may have roaning with white hairs dispersed in clusters appearing on the body coat, or frosted in the mane and tail—called rabicano. This feature also may appear on the head, around the eyes and face, unlike a typical roan horse of other breeds.



Dilute Genes:   

Perlino, Cremello, Champagne, Buckskin, Palomino, Grulla


Before 2002, a PRE born in Spain carrying the dilute factor could not be registered as breeding stock. They were often sold at a diminished price or given away. It was thought that these colors were coming from the influence of other breeds mixed with Spanish genes and thus were undesirable. 


Once the rule change, they were registerable and became the rarest colors in the breed.  It should be noted that many traditional breeders consider the grey horse to be more exemplary of the breed and closest to the original type, and are not proponents of breeding for rare colors.

The Legacy of Kings

                      Awaits You

Looking for an Andalusian or Lusitano?

A glorious adventure lies ahead!

Need help with your research?


Have questions about bloodlines, breeding, registration, traditions, tack, showing,  paperwork?


We are happy to assist you in finding your next Andalusian!  Click for sales list.


Contact Susan Ambrose via email


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