The term Baroque Horse describes a group of horse breeds, usually descended from and retaining the distinctive characteristics of
a particular type of horse found in Europe during the Baroque era. Breeds include Andalusian, Frederiksborger, Friesian, Ginetta,
Kladruber, Lipizzan, Lusitano, Menorquin and Murgese. Partbreds are also eligible.
Baroque horses may be shown in the following riding styles:Dressage, Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat or Western. Horses shall be shown at the walk, working trot, trot or jog, canter or lope. Horses shall have fluid, elegant and suspended gaits. They are to be judged on manners, performance, and quality. Emphasis shall be placed on the ability to give a good pleasure ride.
What kept Baroque horses from becoming extinct despite the political turmoil they have been subjected to, is their incredible presence and personality. And in recent years, these traits have been rediscovered by a new group: the adult amateurs. “I think the reason [adults love these horses] is we appreciate the smooth gaits, the ease of training, and the intelligence,” says Kris Garrett, amateur rider and breeder of purebred and crossbred Andalusian sport horses at Grand Prix Andalusians in Parker, Colorado. “[These horses] are generally sensitive horses who respond to every command. “The Spanish were ruthless in culling. If there was a horse with a bad temperament, it was gone; [the genes] were not passed on,” she says.
Fans of the Friesian horse have also found that these powerful, impressive horses not only have the athletic ability for the showring, but an eager to please temperament. Considering their size, they are often not what anybody expects them to be. They have an inherent connection to people and easily pick up on the horse/human relationship.
The Baroque horses trace their ancestry to the horses raised on the Iberian Peninsula in what is now Spain and Portugal. These equines were bred for warfare, which emphasized a hearty constitution, good temperaments, and the ability to perform the movements that would become the airs above the ground. The horses were known as Andalusians and were praised throughout the ancient world by such notables as Greek horse master, Xenophon.
Eventually, the breeding of Iberian horses was influenced by the Moorish occupation of the land and the introduction of the Barb. The resulting horse maintained its good qualities and was considered the ultimate horse even as governments flourished and diminished.
With the emergence of Renaissance ideals during the 1500’s, horsemanship and the art of riding were re-introduced to society and became a mainstay of the royal palaces. The Spanish horses were among the most prized possessions of the royal families. The Hapsburg family liked the Spanish horses so much that they developed breeding stations at various outposts of their empire. The Spanish-breds were then crossed with the local breeds resulting in the development of the Lipizzaner. These horses were very selectively bred and used in the military and for the riding schools and thrived throughout the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
In Friesland, a Dutch province bordering the North Sea, another horse was developed—the Friesian. This brave, handsome horse descended from Roman warhorses crossed with Arabians and Spanish horses. The result was a horse that not only was strong enough to pull carriages and participate in trotting races, but also had impressive gaits and a fantastic temperament.
With the rise and fall of governments, the Spanish horses and Friesians nearly disappeared. However, the twentieth century saw the reemergence of the popular Iberian equines in the form of three breeds: the Andalusian, the Lipizzaner, and the Lusitano. The Friesian also has thrived with the establishment of the Het Friesch Paarden Stamboek, the FPS, the royal studbook in Holland as well as a counterpart in Germany.
In contemporary breeding, all Lipizzaners trace their lineage to the horses produced in the Hapsburg Empire. Modern political situations in the Iberian Peninsula have resulted in the emergence of two breeds. What was once a purebred Spanish horse has become the Andalusian. Lusitanos are horses of purebred Andalusian breeding that are born in Portugal.
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