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Spanish ‘half-breeds’ an option when full breeds not a right fit

By RAY ARISS / Horsetrader columnist - May 5th, 2010 - Q&A Hey Ray!

HEY RAY!: I’ve always dreamed of owning a Spanish horse — Andalusian or Lusitano — but now they are just out of my reach financially. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations on Spanish half-breeds as a “Plan B”?
— Karen Hollis, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

HEY KAREN: I can understand the attraction for those exotic breeds. They truly are beautiful. The nice thing about the Andalusian is that when crossed with other breeds, their traits usually enhance the new foal. The other advantage of a Spanish cross is that it can be registered as a new pure breed, or at least a half-Andalusian horse. Having a venue to compete in helps in the event you want to showcase or promote your horse.

Some of the most popular crosses that are actual breeds include:
IBERIAN WARMBLOOD (Andalusian X Thoroughbred)
AZTECA (Andalusian X Quarter horse)
ARALUSIAN or HISPANO-ARABE (Andalusian X Arabian)
SPANISH NORMAN (Andalusian X Draft)
WARLANDER (Andalusian X Friesian)

As far as cost goes, with the exception of the Warlander, most of these crosses can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of a purebred Andalusian. Warlander foals can sometimes cost as much as a pure Andalusian or Friesian foal because the value of each breed is about the same.

Now then, the key in any breeding is to try to combine the right horses in a way that produces an offspring that is better than the two parents. Any breeding should be carefully selected for form to function. I’ve known many people who got into an exotic breed strictly for the beauty and “fantasy” of it all, so please ask yourself the question: “Are you looking for a really pretty horse, or one that can do something?” Since the Spanish horse is a horse that was intended for kings, looks and function were a prerequisite.

The other thing about the Spanish horse is that it has been a foundation for many breeds we know today — one of the reasons why they cross so well. In essence, what you are doing is going back to the beginning. The question, then, is why pick one cross over another?

If you want a big-strided, hot horse with speed like the Thoroughbred but you would prefer something a little more sensible and with a bit more substance for competition, then I think the Iberian Warmblood is your ticket.

On the other hand, if you are more of a western-type rider that likes a Quarter Horse because they are strong, quick at the start, and cowy — but wished you had a bigger foot, denser bone and a little more hair for exhibitions or a parade — then the Azteca might fit the bill.

The Arabian is one of those extremely versatile horses. You’ll see them on the track, in front of a cart, going over jumps, reining and cutting cows — and in every single event in the show arena. But the one thing they do better than any breed is endurance. The Aralusian is a culmination of these things — on “steroids”, figuratively speaking. The body gets bigger, the hair gets longer, the movement gets fancier, the mind gets clearer, and the beauty becomes magnified. If you feel oversized on an Arab but love all of these qualities (and you believe bigger is better and love to go all day long), then look no further.
If you fancy the strong, quiet and subdued qualities of the gentle giants known as Drafts but wished they were slightly more refined and a little lighter on their feet, then the Spanish Norman might be yourknight in shining armor.

When a fantasy horse is what you are looking for, and you can’t make up your mind whether you want the white one or the black one because they are both absolutely perfect, then look at the Warlander. He’ll not only enhance the qualities of each breed and heighten possilities in the show ring, but he will pleasantly surprise you into thinking that price was not a determining factor in owning one.

Karen, I can assure you that whatever choice you make will be the right one. I personally have owned all of the crosses mentioned above at one time or another, and I thoroughly appreciate what each horse had to offer to my life.

Remember to always trust your instincts and think safe,


Horsetrader columnist Ray Ariss, husband to Pippa Ariss and father of six, shares his insight into the relationship of horseand human twice each month, in print and on www.horsetrader.com. He lives and trains in “Horsetown USA”, Norco, Calif., at his bustling Starbrite Riding Academy, where he currently has 50 horses in various stages of training, including Andalusians, Friesians, Quarter Horses, Paints, Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Mustangs and more. Ray attributes his training success to the support of his wife and partner, Pippa, and a system he calls S.W.A.P., to which he credits his multiple championships in several disciplines. His passionate understanding of the “human-horse” relationship was evident when he took on the challenge of training a wild Mustang and — in just 100 days — produced the highest-priced adopted Mustang ever — $50,000. Does your “horse-human relationship” leave you with a question for Ray? Click here to submit one!

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