For years I loved the Arabian horse and bred the Egyptian Arabian. They are refined and lovely, but then I met the Andalusian horse at a show in Atlanta. I also met a long-time friend, Irene Benjamin, who helped me along with my passion for becoming a great rider (I don’t think I ever achieved this goal, but I had another partner—my Andalusian stallion Bonito). I sold all my Arabians and bought this young stallion imported from Costa Rica. He was simply gorgeous with the most beautiful eyes and wonderful personality, even if occasionally spiced with mischief. He had quite a sense of humor! We had a bumpy journey sometimes because he was trained to a higher level than I was, but I wouldn’t trade a moment.
In fact, he was such a friend that when I was getting a divorce and was confused and sad, I’d go to the stables into his stall, and he’d hug me with his big arched neck while I cried.
We did a musical freestyle to Phantom of the Opera. The ride began with a complete side pass across the arena. We performed a bit of piaffe (trot in place) and a canter pirouette (canter in place). He was not your ordinary horse, but then no Andalusian is ordinary. I have a poster in my guest bath that says “This horse will change your life.” It is absolutely the truth.
Allow me to tell you a little about this extraordinary breed. They are the bullfighting horses of Spain—either quick or dead.
The Andalusian is an ancient pure breed that has been carefully preserved over the centuries. In Northern Spain, cave paintings depict men leading Mesolitic horses with convex heads, solid muscular bodies, elegant necks and luxurious manes. Circa 1,100 B.C., Homer refers to the Iberian horse in his Iliad. The Iberian horse carried Hannibal across the Alps in his invasion of Italy (though the elephants got all the credit!). History records Richard I and many of his knights mounted on "airy Spanish Destriers".
In the heyday of European monarchies, the Andalusian's flair, style and formidable carriage made him the mount of choice for the aristocracy. Not only did the Spanish horse excel in battle but he was a fancy parade horse and an elegant fine harness animal. This popularity earned the Iberian horse a grandiose title, "Horse of Kings" or "Royal Horse of Europe." Indeed, there was a time when no crowned head would consider having a portrait painted on any horse other than an Andalusian.
Linda Nightingale - Author
Out of the Ordinary… Into the Extraordinary