Everyone remembers the scene above from The Lord of the Rings: Gandalf rides Shadowfax bareback and bridleless into battle to repel the Nazgûl with a bright light to save Faramir and his riders. Shadowfax was played by two highly-trained Andalusian horses, Bianco and Demero.
Andalusian horses, also known as pura raza Española (PRE) or Pure Spanish Horse are a horse breed from the Iberian Peninsula, where their ancestors lived for thousands of years. Throughout history, they are known for their prowess as a war horse and prized by nobility, and therefore used as a tool of diplomacy by the Spanish government and kings across Europe, particularly in Austria, France and Italy.
Lladro’s Unbreakable Spirit Horse Sculpture, demonstrating the energetic vigour of an Andalusian erupting from the matt white porcelain medium.
The following are several famous Andalusian horses and their owners.
BABIECA AND EL CID CAMPEADOR (1043 - 1099)
The Statue of El Cid in Burgos, Spain (left).
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a Castilian knight and warlord in medieval Spain and (likely) received the title El Cid Campeador (Master of the Battlefield) after his conquest of Valencia in 1094. There are various myths of how he acquired his steed Babieca. According to the poem Carmen Campidoctoris, Babieca was a gift from a barbarian, a ‘Barbieca’ (horse of the barbarian). Another tale tells of El Cid choosing a horse from an Andalusian herd as a coming-of-age gift from his godfather a Carthusian monk. His godfather thought it was a poor choice and exclaimed ‘Babieca!’ meaning ‘fool’. Ironically, Babieca became a great warhorse loved by El Cid and feared by his enemies, and both became iconic Spanish legends retold in various stories.
Faithfully inspired by examples at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, Lladró is proud of this pinnacle of craftsmanship within their High Porcelain line-up. The intense dark blue and gold lustre treatments contrasts heavily with the whiteness of the body in the Spanish Pure Breed Horse Sculpture, Limited Edition.
KING PHILLIP IV OF SPAIN (1605 - 1665)
Phillip IV was remembered as having an astonishing enthusiasm for collecting art and is the patron of the famous court painter Diego Velázquez, who in his golden age painted the iconic Las Meninas. As a fine horseman and also grandson of King Phillip II who was the progenitor of the Andalusian breeding program, he was painted multiple times riding Andalusian horses, with the most popular being Velázquez’s Equestrian Portrait of Philip IV (right) where Phillip II is seen performing a levade.
EVENTO AND INGNACIO RAMBLA ALGARIN (1990’S)
Ridden by Ingnacio Rambla Algarin, Evento is a gray Andalusian dressage horse participating in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, amongst other competitions. Representing Spain, they only finished 11th individually and 7th in the team category, but catapulted the breed’s popularity in the dressage world and was thus nicknamed the ‘Icebreaker PRE’. They also became the Spanish Grand Prix Champion in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
Andalusian horses make great dressage horses due to their docility, and elegant and regal appearance and this can be seen in Lladró’s Spanish Pure Breed Horse Sculpture - Haute École, Limited Edition (top left) and Horse on Courbette and Pirouette Bookends.
JOHNNY DEPP AND GOLDEN EYE (2000’S)
In Tim Burton’s 1999 film Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane a police constable traveling with his horse companion Gunpowder to the titular village to solve a crime. Gunpowder was played by the one-eyed black Andalusian Goldeneye. When Depp found out that Goldeneye was to be euthanized after filming ended, he adopted her. She now lives in luxury at Depp’s Kentucky Farmhouse. Other movies with scene-stealing Andalusians include Braveheart, Gladiator, King Arthur, and most of Clint Eastwood’s westerns.
TRAVELER (1961 - )
During the 1961 Rose Parade, the University of Southern California’s (USC) director of special events spotted Richard Saukko riding his horse, Traveler I. What was supposed to be a one-time appearance became history as the iconic white Andalusian became the mascot for the USC since. Whenever the USC football team scores a touchdown, they celebrate with a Trojan warrior riding Traveler (left) around the field. White Andalusian horses must go through extensive training to become accustomed to large crowds and noises to prepare for this unique role. Currently, Traveler IX currently plays the part of the mascot and was ordained in 2017, replacing Traveller VII who is retiring after 14 years of service.
A woman intimately connects with her beloved Andalusian in Lladro’s A True Friend Woman Figurine, Limited Edition. Her robe is finished in a textured enamel glaze, and her flowing hair is accented with a Lladro’s signature handmade flower.
For more equine articles:
- Anatomically accurate: the horses of Lladró
- Equine Locomotion - Artistry of Horse Movement
- Lladró Sydney’s recent Melbourne Cup Event With A preview of The brand’s Full Collection of Horses