Moods of Andalusians
I have wanted an Andalusian for quite some time. I have been looking everywhere and they really range in prices. Some cost 100 grand, others only cost 2 grand. Are Andalusians moody, fast, loyal? I haven't been able to see any. Please fill me in on all things Andalusians!!
My riding instructor raises them. Her stallion, VMF Gitano De La Noche, is very well mannered and she sometimes uses him for lunge line lessons (I am excited for that time!).
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I haven't worked with one yet, but so far as I have heard they seem to be versatile and have lovely movement!
My instructor uses her stallion for dressage and driving.
Any breed of horse can be moody. It actually depends on the particular horse.
If you look up Andalusian bull fighting (I do not support bull fighting in the least!), you will see how the horses were traditionally trained and used. They have been cow horses for longer than the Quarter Horse has been a breed.
I would love to have some and use them as cattle horses. I think they'd do well.
That is pretty well the most I can tell you. They are a breed that has held my interest for a while. I'd love to get a purebred sometime!
I own an Andalusian cross, and the barn I'm at breeds,raises, and trains them. I absolutely LOVE this breed. Like any horse, some can be moody. Most of them are fairly sensitive,and quick on their feet. Depending on the breeding you can get some super calm ones. They are one of the sweetest breeds I have come across. Amazing with kids. Honestly, there is nothing I don't like about them! :)
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I have a cross, but his andy half is definitely prominent in temperament and build.
He is sweet and forgiving (he has to be, under the care of a green owner with only 4 years of riding under her belt!) , but also sensitive. He's pretty steady in his mood, always happy and a really good attitude towards people in general. (Adores kids!)
He is, essentially, the perfect horse, lol. I'm never getting anything else.
I have an Andalusian cross.
He is bold, brave and forgiving... In saying that he is very strong willed, can be stubborn at times and likes to test his handler or rider. He is also really, really clever.
He has very fixed ideas about "his" space and what he will and will not allow, mainly brushing (he hates being groomed) and he doesn't like his belly being touched or manly bits being cleaned.
He loves kids and they seem to really love him. He is patient, tolerant and will happily allow them to crawl all over him and poke him. I have never, ever seen him display any bad behaviour around a child - and I watch him like a hawk with kids, as he can be a pain to handle at times.
I have 2 Andalusians and leased another before I got these 2. I have loved all three of them. They are very responsive and extremely "nimble". The first one I had (the leased one) was a mare and she was the sweetest horse on the face of the earth. She was not "spooky" about anything close by, but could be easily frightened by something new in the distance (like kids jumping rope). I think with her that was mostly a matter of her not having had any training. She was not afraid of things like cars or machinery or sudden sounds, etc. She was very smart and never, ever, did anything wrong intentionally. The only time she did anything wrong was when she was frightened or when she didn't understand what she was supposed to do. She had a great work ethic and had a ton of stamina. Sweet, sweet horse.
After her I bought a gorgeous Andalusian Stallion for dressage and had him gelded. He is less quick to react to things, but is just as nibble in his own way. Very athletic would be a good way to describe him. His disposition is calm but he is a bit of a worrier. Not spooky, but will occasionally surprise you by trying to get away with something. He is with a trainer right now and they say he is "very sweet" and I agree.
My third Andalusian I have only owned for a few weeks and he is a real dear. He is lively and energetic, but very well behaved and good natured. He also has had more training than the other two. He is always happy, not spooky, very smart, extremely nimble like the first one. Lots of go, but no bad attitude.
I love this breed. I've own and ridden quarter horses, thoroughbreds and Morgans, but when I rode my first Andalusian it was like a dream. Sooo comfortable, responsive, intelligent, agile, willing, and sweet.
What are you planning to do with your new horse? They can probably do anything but are especially built for dessage. If you get one for dressage, ride him uphill from the beginning, don't ride them "forward and down" like a warm blood. They are built uphill and can and should learn collection much sooner than other breeds. It just frustrates them to be trained as a warmblood would be.
Maybe I'm lucky. My horse LOVES to stretch. He takes any chance he can to stretch down, whether it be at halt, walk or trot. (canter is a work in progress) And I let him. I ride him forward and down all the time as a reward, but at first, that's all I did.
I get so so so so many remarks on how relaxed and easy he looks. My coaches mention all the time how remarkably supple he is.
When I first got him, I was warned by not only his breeder (who breeds andies and has for decades now) but also a very talented trainer, to not fall into that trap. So many want to stick them in a double bridle, do collection asap. And then people wonder why some say that andalusians look stiff, bad at extensions, etc etc.
Your mention of the double bridle suggests to me that you are misunderstanding me or the concept I'm referring to or both. Please let me try to explain again.
My stallion was bred and trained in Spain (which is no guarantee that he was trained correctly). I found videos of them training him in Spain - They were pushing him forward very fast AND had a double bridle on him. He was overbent and tossing his head the whole time. All very German Warmblood style.
He was then sent to the USA and where the trainer I bought him from rode him "uphill" for the short time she had him. She took the double bridle off (at least for the video) and let his head come up and let him go at a more natural pace. Nevertheless, when she first showed him to me, he had the double bridle on and was tossing his head constantly. The next day (with me riding him lightly with no pressure and no curb) he was relaxed and happy and had beautiful natural gaits, so I bought him. I immediately put him in a plain snaffle and never went back to the double.
Then I made my first mistake. I gave him to an experienced German Warmblood style dressage trainer for 6 months. She kept the snaffle only, but rode him down and forward, his weight on his shoulders and his head well rounded down, often behind the vertical. Over that time he became irritable more and more often, with occasional attempts to spin, lean in, or buck. He totally lost his ability to balance upright around a turn, and his understanding of the canter depart vanished and he began throwing fits when asked to canter. Vet checks, etc, found nothing.
I took him home and over the next 6 months just tried to ride him the best I could without getting bucked off, until I could get him to a French style Classical trainer. When that happened his new trainer got him back on track with beautiful canter departs and correct lateral balance. Still he retained the "heavy in the front" training from his previous trainers and would occasionally attempt to spin and buck.
He is now in training with a trainer who has worked with Iberians for 30 plus years. The first thing he did was encourage him to RELAX (no more pushing for "forward" and "fast") and then to help him to rebalance himself naturally back on his hind quarters. This is done first on the lounge line then under saddle. All unnecessary bridle leather was removed (no flash and not even a noseband and of course no double). This trainer explained to me that he does not teach collection by pushing forward and rounding the horse's head down, but by lifting his shoulders and lowering the croup with almost no contact on the mouth. He explained that Iberians are built with their necks coming up out of their shoulders in such a way that they are uncomfortable being forced down in the front again and again (I'm sure there are exceptions and perhaps yours is one of them). He explained that he did not have to force my horse's head down because once his shoulders lifted, his neck and head would raise up and stretch forward and round naturally as designed, without force or "training". He said that in his long experience, being forced into an unnatural "weight on the forehand" position is often the root of attitude and other problems in this breed. So far my horse has been a sweetheart for this trainer so I'm very hopeful that this is the right way to go for him.
I'm not misunderstanding. I mention it because it happens. They're separate issues that both happen... those are cranking the head down thinking it's collection, and those that are just hurrying hurrying along horses. Just because your horse can probably do a semblance of piaffe doesn't mean it's ready to.
In fact, I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. I had a few months training with an instructor that trained under PHilip Karl's Légèreté instructor courses. I learned lots, some stuff I still use. But especially the idea of lightness in the mouth and the front. (I even do some little things that bother one of my two coaches, like using my noseband super loose lol)
Then I found a pair of classical coaches. (but not the Légèreté style) Maybe you'd consider it german, I dunno. But they follow a natural order of things. Rhythm and relaxation first. Those are the fundamental aspects of the training pymraid. It's not unique. I achieved that relaxation by letting him stretch out and down. Trust me, there was no "forcing down." Open throatlatch, lifting shoulder being my goal. Properly being stretched out and down does not mean being on the forehand so the 'unnatural weight on the forehand position' is never something we want to encourage, no matter the breed.
I've posted conformation pictures of my boy before. If you're interested, take a look. His neck is built up and out of his shoulders. But don't get me wrong, I think he enjoys stretching so it's made easier for me anyways. Like I said, my focus was always relaxation... my issue now is that we're TOO relaxed. Need some more positive tension in the both of us!
I don't think the problem lies in the proper classical training system that follows the pyramid. The problem are coaches (like the one you had first) who are so obsessed with head cranked down, and running them off their feet. Not the method.
Like I said, I've had the opportunity to try both methods, both methods taught CORRECTLY. And you know what I found? They are both so so so similar. Someone once gave me these analogy for two of them, and you know what? It perfectly fits.
Think of learning how to ride a bike. You can learn two ways. You get on, someone pushes you, and with that forward momentum, you learn to find your balance. ("german" way) Or, you go slowly, pedaling carefully until you find your balance, and then you go forward once you've found your balance (the "french" way as per PK). Both ways are correct, both ways you learn to balance with energy.
But of course, both ways must be taught correctly to make a fair comparison. Which, to me, it doesn't sound like you had the opportunity to.
Just wanted to add, since I can't edit my above post...
In the end, it's important to find something that works for you and your horse. Obviously, what you're doing is working so I'm happy for you. But I think it has less to do with some sort of 'special iberian' training, and instead, riding correctly. Regardless of the (correctly utilized) method.
In my case, I got to choose. I ended up going with traditional classical training because I could get twice the help from two coaches instead of the one, since I'm still learning too. But even today, I still keep some of the french classical training in mind... and like you, I ride with barely any tack. Super loose noseband (really just for the look), and a simple loose-ring snaffle. No flashes, no cranking, no spurs, tie downs, nothing. =)
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