“Pretty is a pretty does” pretty well sums of the essence of both the Spanish and the Portuguese judges’ seminars at the ERAHC Show. Another way of putting it is “Form follows function.” It was pointed out that each breed of horse is designed for a purpose. The obvious ones are the Arabian for endurance, the Thorobred for speed, and the Walking Horse for a smooth ride. Some hundred years ago a French researcher did studies that caused him to conclude that the head and facial characteristics (the phenotype) of a breed of horse were accurate predictors of the form and function of the rest of the horse. Thus Arabs have their characteristic head shape, and Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) have theirs which is different, and it predicts the shape of the rest of the horse. The judges, our teachers, pointed out that a horse may look beautiful, with gleaming coat, long mane, arched neck, dreamy eyes, but unless it looks like an Iberian horse it may not have a conformation that lends to highly collected work with the nimble ability to move sideways and backward, as quickly as forward, and to move above the ground more than on the ground, with the grace of a ballet dancer and the cow sense of a cutting horse. All this and supreme rideability! For, first and foremost the Iberian, or “Andalusian ” horse is a saddle horse, designed for comfortable riding. We Americans need to study pictures, videos, and living examples of the Iberian horse to get a true picture fixed in our minds.
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