Newsletter: December 2006… Reprint: Equine Journal “Romantic Breeds”
From the Editor… I thought Spanish-Norman fans would be interested in reading the latest article to appear on the breed. The Equine Journal recently published a special edition on Romantic Breeds and we’re pleased to have been included. We hope you enjoy reading ‘The Versatile Spanish-Norman.’
How did the French knight’s horse, extinct since the late seventeenth century, come to be re-created in the late 1980’s?
First came Hamid Hill Farm’s legendary Andalusian stallion, Embajador IX, imported from Spain. His owner, Allan H. Hamid, had done extensive historical research on medieval warhorses.
The Barb horse, introduced to Europe by the Moorish invasions from North Africa, made a major contribution to the genetic base of the indigenous horses of the Iberian Peninsula and France. Blood-typing studies done by Dr. E. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky confirmed the genetic link.
In their breeding program, the Hamids selectively combined the genes of the Andalusian of Spain and the Percheron of France to re-create the phenotype of the noble knight’s horse. With proud, young horses of consistent conformation already flexing their muscles and flaunting their style and power, it was time to establish the breed. In 1991 Linda and Allan Hamid of Woodbury, Connecticut, founded the Spanish-Norman Horse Registry, Inc. to record the pedigrees of these unique horses representing centuries of selective breeding. The Hamids envisioned a high caliber competition horse, thus the motto, “the warhorse of the ages as the sporthorse of today.” The knight’s horse had to be powerful, valiant, agile and obedient in the midst of the chaos of battle. Likewise, a modern performance horse must be strong, courageous, athletic and trustworthy to face the challenges of international competition.
Breed Registrar, Linda Osterman Hamid, explains her pride in exporting a Spanish-Norman to Europe: “It brought us tremendous satisfaction to sell a Hamid Hill Farm, Ltd. gelding to France. Agincourt H.H.F., by first foundation sire Embajador IX, was purchased by Monsieur Apfelbaum of Paris and is his outstanding field hunter.
The Spanish-Norman embodies the regal heritage of its noble ancestors: majesty, power and great presence. The breed combines the elegant beauty, boldness and natural collection of the Andalusian and the size, strength and bone density of the Percheron.
Another Spanish-Norman horse has gone to the country of his heritage. The magnificent stallion Soldado H.H.F. is now located in Andalusia, in southern Spain. His owner, the excellent equestrienne, Petra Sherman, states: “Soldado H.H.F. is a true joy. We ride for hours in the beautiful countryside, through the olive orchards, almond groves and vineyards. It’s always a memorable and moving experience.”
Endowed with the unique combination of presence with docility, the Spanish-Norman possesses outstanding character and temperament, qualities essential to a successful performance horse. Spanish-Normans have the potential to excel in a variety of disciplines including jumping, cross-country, dressage and driving. This enormous versatility is an important attribute of the breed.
Noted jumper trainer and exhibitor, John Blair of Fox Gate Farms in Tivorton, Rhode Island, praises the Spanish-Norman for “its natural ability, tractability, and good mind.” Blair showed Sir Norman of Tivorton for former owner Joanne Fiola. The gelding, originally named Guerrero (Warrior in Spanish) by breeder Anthony Pagano of South Salem, New York, was the 2001 High Point Trophy winner of the Spanish-Norman Horse Registry, Inc. With great success, Blair showed Sir Norman throughout New England at the 3’6″, 3’9″ level in jumpers. “The horse always gave 100%.” Blair adds: “Sir Norman is a brave, fun horse with an amazing personality. He had a real following at the shows and constantly craved attention and affection from his fans. He was fired up, anxious to jump one minute, then a real pet, wanting to be touched the next.” Spanish-Normans are known for their sincere affection for humans, a willingness to please and strong work ethic.
The Spanish-Norman is a rare and exclusive breed. It is not easy to find many mature, trained horses on the market. Owners tend to keep their Spanish-Normans for a lifetime. Breeders sell young stock. In the event of a change of ownership, trainers try to keep Spanish-Normans in their barns.
Victoria Overholser of Ten Oaks Farm has been training and competing the mare Serafina PCF and the gelding Star of Orion for the McKinnon family of Lenoir City, Tennessee. Serafina does well in Third Level dressage and also wins at Novice Level Eventing and Jumper Stakes classes. Overholser lauds the Spanish-Normans: “I find their desire to please and steady disposition leads to success in a variety of disciplines, from eventing to dressage to show jumping. I enjoy fox hunting both horses in the winter as well.”
The largest breeders of Spanish-Normans in the world are Bernice Parker and Allan Steer of Saskatchewan, Canada. They have produced more than forty Spanish-Normans sired by four different Andalusian stallions out of registered Percheron mares. Bernice Parker comments: “Our customers have horses competing all over North America. I have yet to keep one for myself, as the demand is so strong. It brings us great pleasure to follow the careers of our sale horses. Owners keep us up-to-date on the accomplishments of their Spanish-Normans and I post the results and photos on our website, SporthorseCanada.com. Our clients all compliment their Spanish-Normans on their very trainable minds and superior temperaments, a great tribute to the breed.”
The Canadian-bred Bracchus, a four-year-old gelding, owned by Jim and Jan Lee of Lutz, Florida, is competing in driving. Bracchus won the driving championship at the Florida State Fair and also pinned in Hunter Under Saddle classes.
The ‘Ambassador’ of the breed is the Spanish-Norman stallion Romantico H.H.F., owned by Hamid Hill Farm, Ltd. Romantico H.H.F. was invited to be a celebrity guest performer at BreyerFest, July 2005, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Breyer honored Romantico H.H.F. in a special-edition, collector’s horse model in fine porcelain.
Romantico has also represented the breed in Freestyle Reining. Romantico and trainer Garry McAllister won 4th place in the Freestyle Reining Open at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in October 1999. They won 6th place in the Invitational Freestyle Reining at the U.S.E.T., ‘Festival of Champions,’ in June 2000. Romantico H.H.F. is the sole American-bred horse of Spanish descent to have ever won a United States Equestrian Team ribbon.
Romantico H.H.F., in authentic armor, has presented exhibitions at the Greenwich Polo Club, Equine Affaire and various charity events. Spectators are transported back in time to the days of chivalry and pageantry.
The Spanish-Norman Horse Registry, Inc. invites you to share the experience of this extraordinary breed with the recent release of a DVD on the Spanish-Norman Horse. The ten-minute DVD offers a comprehensive view of the Spanish-Norman horse, and features breed ‘Ambassador’ Romantico H.H.F. The educational and entertaining DVD includes the history of the Spanish-Norman horse and characteristics of this rare breed.
Photographs and Captions
- John Blair and Sir Norman of Tivorton, sired by the late Embajador IX. Photo Credit: Reflections of Killington, Inc.x
- Victoria Overholser of Ten Oaks Farm, Lenoir City, Tennessee jumps Serafina PCFx
- Bracchus, four year old Spanish-Norman gelding owned by Jim and Jan Lee of Lutz, Florida x
- Spanish-Norman stallion, Romantico H.H.F. and Garry McAllister compete at U.S.E.T. ‘Festival of Champions.’ Photo Credit: Waltenberry x
- Petra Sherman enjoys the countryside in southern Spain with Soldado H.H.F., sired by the late Embajador IX, imported from Spain.