Newsletter: April 2001… “The Noble Warhorse Returns”
In the early eighth century, Europeans were threatened by the Moors to the South and the Turks to the east. As Islamic forces advanced into Spain and France from North Africa on their Barb horses. Europeans were faced with a horse unsurpassed in combat; hardy, courageous, powerful, quick to respond to the rider’s commands with an uncanny ability to engage its hind end and strike out in all directions. Confronted with this remarkable, ideal warhorse of the Moorish invaders, Europeans realized the importance of breeding horses for battle.
Both the Barbs of North Africa and the indigenous horses of the Iberian Peninsula carried Oriental blood and were of a very similar genetic strain. The Barb which invaded Spain in 711 was small, agile, fiery and possessed great stamina.
When the Moors lost their first battle in 718, the victors were awarded the invaluable prize of Barb breeding stock. It was not until the year 1492 that the ‘Reconquista’ or reclaiming of Al-Andalus was complete. Through the centuries of conquests and defeats, the Barb horse became a great legacy of the Moorish invasions.
The Norman invasion of England in 1066 was carried out by fierce warriors mounted on ‘destriers’. The mighty chargers were renowned for their equestrian excellence on the battlefield.
Research shows that early Spanish horses influenced the development of the now lost Norman horses of medieval France. Norman horses infused with Barb blood contributed to the equine type which would eventually come to be known as Percheron, after the Le Perche region of France. Percherons imported to the U.S. in the 1840’s were called Normans.
Both the horses of Andalusia and Normandy possessed an infusion of Barb blood from Moorish invasions. In 1990 blood-typing studies on Percherons by Dr. E. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky confirmed the genetic link.With their common Oriental ancestry, breeding Andalusians to Percherons produces offspring approximating the type of the old Norman horse. The Spanish-Norman breed recreates the phenotype of the medieval knights charger.
In 1991 Allan and Linda Hamid of Woodbury, Connecticut established the Spanish-Norman Horse Registry, Inc. to record the pedigrees of a new American sporthorse blending the genes of the Andalusian and Percheron. Presently, in the United States and Canada, there are seventy-seven Andalusian stallions registered as foundation sires of the Spanish-Norman breed.
The Spanish-Norman embodies the proud heritage of its 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.
Endowed with the unique combination of presence with docility, the Spanish-Norman possesses outstanding character and temperament, qualities essential to a successful performance horse.
The majestic Spanish-Norman stands between 15.3 to 17 hands and is predominately gray with some bays and blacks. The Spanish-Norman is a horse of substance: short coupled, strong hindquarters, sloping shoulder, ample heart girth, broad chest, medium length of neck, with its head showing a slightly convex to straight profile. Sturdy feet and legs and strong, wide hooves are the norm. Physical characteristics of this athletic breed are large, expressive eyes. The mane is thick, luxuriant and often wavy. The tail is usually abundant, long and low set. Fine, thin ears are of medium length.
The Spanish-Norman is bred to move freely from the shoulder with elastic, fluid movement and impulsion, displaying agility, engagement, cadence and elevation with extension and projecting an image of harmony, balance and symmetry.
The Spanish-Norman displays a keen aptitude for learning, a strong work ethic, tractability, exceptional stamina and enthusiasm for performance. Versatile sporthorses, Spanish-Normans have the potential to excel in a variety of equine disciplines including jumping, eventing, dressage and driving.
The 1992 Spanish-Norman stallion, Romántico H.H.F, owned by Hamid Hill Farm, Ltd., Woodbury, CT, competed in reining, a discipline newly recognized as an Olympic sport by the United States Equestrian Team and the Federation Equestre Internationale. Romántico H.H.F and his trainer Garry McAllister won 4th place in the Pfizer Freestyle Open Reining-Open at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Columbus, Ohio in October 1999. In June 2000 they won a 6th place in the Invitational Freestyle Reining at the United States Equestrian Team Festival of Champions at the USET Headquarters and Olympic Training Center in Gladstone, New Jersey.
The Spanish-Norman gelding Agincourt H.H.F., sired by the Andalusian Embajador IX, was imported to France and is in training with the French three-day event rider Guillaume Chesneau.
Since Spanish-Normans are a minimum of 50% Andalusian, they are eligible to compete as Half-Andalusians in shows sponsored by the IALHA. In July 1999 the three year old, black Spanish-Norman mare Mantilla TCV, sired by Maestro of Caballos de los Cristiani and owned by Tina Veder of Wilton, New York, was Senior Grand Champion horse at the Northeast Classical Breed Show in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she competed again purebred Andalusians, Lusitanos, Lipizzans and Friesians. Mantilla TCV was recently purchased by Judith Cardella of South Londonderry, Vermont and will remain in training with Don Bourque in Wilton, New York. The now five-year old Spanish-Norman mare is a ‘natural’ jumper and will compete on the hunter/jumper circuit this spring.
Spanish-Norman breeders Victoria McIntire and Ronald Phillips own five Spanish-Normans at their Fox Run Farm in Kentucky. One of their mares, Victoria of Fox Run, is the official representative for the Spanish-Norman breed and gives daily demonstrations at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. She is also being trained there to compete in medieval games.
Victoria of Fox Run is the year 2000 award winner of the Spanish-Norman Horse Registry, Inc. annual high point award. She will represent the breed at Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, April 5-8, 2001.
The designer and administrator of the official Spanish-Norman Horse Registry website, Susan Gordon of Iberian Cross Farm in Litchfield, Michigan has become an enthusiastic owner/breeder of Spanish-Normans. She and her husband Ken purchased the lovely 1999 Spanish-Norman filly Elixir’s Gabriella, sired by the Andalusian Elixir TG, and out of the Spanish-Norman mare, Mi Vida Isabeau last summer, and have plans to show this filly in dressage. They also have two of their three Percheron mares bred to different Andalusian stallions for 2002 foals.
Joanne Fiola of Tiverton, Rhode Island, has her two Spanish-Norman geldings Guerrero and Vivaracho in training as jumpers. Both were sired by the late Embajador IX.
Trainer Shanna Goodpasture of Elk Grove, California competed Monarch’s Thor, owned by Vicki Quattlebaum, at the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association National Show in Fort Worth, Texas last October. The young, bay stallion Monarch’s Thor, was sired by Goodpasture Andalusians stallion Altanero D, and out of a Percheron mare at Monarch Stables in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Bobbie Newton of Dos Desperados Ranch in Sedona, Arizona, exhibited her Spanish-Norman yearling filly ‘Bella‘, sired by Bravio at EqWest in Del Mar, California.
Ann Puthoff of Serenity Acres Sporthorses in Fremont, Indiana specializes in breeding Spanish-Normans for dressage. She has chosen to breed her Spanish-Norman mares to her Andalusian stallion Elixir TG. She has a young Spanish-Norman stallion Zingaro, who she has begun competing with in dressage. Ann and Zingaro will be at the Hoosier Horse Fair April 6,7 & 8, 2001.
After living over twenty-five years on the Balearic Island of Formentera, Petra Sherman moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, leaving behind her beloved Andalusian Arlequin. A serious scholar of classical equitation and equine history, she now devotes her time and energy to training her Spanish-Norman stallion Soldado H.H.F. , following the precepts of the classical masters.
Spanish-Norman Horse Registry, Inc. President Allan Hamid states:
“The main goal is to produce an outstanding sporthorse
that retains the presence, physical and mental abilities of
the classic European warhorse. The Spanish-Norman is destined to make an important contribution to the equestrian world.”