LETTERS IN DEFENSE OF THE PUREBRED SPANISH HORSE

 

 

Spanish / English

 

 


Introduction

Ever since I published my first articles and books, and to this day, many people have asked me what the reason for which I began my research was. Far from trying to make any spectacular reply, every time I have looked back to answer this question, I have found myself facing an image that has been present in my mind at all the important moments of my life related to the equestrian world, image that also has a name: "Cómico". It was an exceptional horse, of the iron brand of Moreno de la Cova, horse which I wanted to ride in the proper way and so had to learn how to do it. Because of this, I started to read all the books on horses I could find, at first, books about riding, and then, any books that fell into my hands. Later, and after spending a long time searching and reading the Classics in the National Library, I decided to look for the unpublished documents in the archives. I was also asked: why did I go to such an unusual place in the world of horses? My reply on such occasions was that it was the inconsistency between what I could observe, the conclusions my observations had led me to and what I read in the books. Furthermore, I could not find answers to the questions that I began to ask myself, and which stemmed from these conclusions, above all relating to the history of our breed of horses. And so I spent almost fifteen years searching for documents that could give me the key or could open the road to get to the bottom of the origin of the Spanish Horse. From that moment, and to this very day, I continue to search for documents because there is still a lot to learned before my research can be considered closed. Regarding that period of my life, I can only say that it was fascinating, and that I would gladly repeat it right from the beginning.

However, following the publication of the first books, I started to receive some public criticism regarding my theories on the part of some people from the Spanish University, breeders and horse lovers, in form of articles and letters appearing in different equestrian magazines of different countries. This book is a collection of the selected letters of reply which I wrote in response to that criticism, though some of them, such as the first one to be presented, have no connection with my research. It brings us to another question: Why did I reply to every one of those letters? I did know that the criticism regarding my writings were going to be widely echoed in Spain as much as abroad, and I found it hard to leave them without reply because I felt I had the obligation to explain to those who were truly interested in the subject of origin and development of our horse breed in the course of history. What was being debated was the validity of the theories which I had put forward and I believed that if I failed to defend them, the harm done to our horse would be every day more and more serious. The history that was ascribed to the Purebred Spanish Horse, which should rather be called a myth, was the widely known theory that its morphology was a result of natural evolution and its adaptation to the Andalusian environment, and which, undoubtedly, it inherited from the inexistent "Iberian" horse. This theory was being repeated for over a century now and, recently, it intensified and spread by means of copying, which, unfortunately, was at the base of transmission and proliferation of knowledge regarding the Purebred Spanish Horse. This process was very damaging to it because, from the functional point of view, it paralyzed the development of the breed. The root of the problem was the belief in the alleged racial purity of the also inexistent "Carthusian" horses. It was said that, apart from the elevated movement, beauty and nobility, the main characteristics of the Spanish breed were: "dishing", loss of pigmentation, little height, fine cannon bones, and warts under the dock. As it happened, the latter characteristic was very common in horses called "Carthusian", and it was believed that the presence of those warts was the guarantee of the highest quality. For this reason they became a decisive parameter of selection at great many stud farms.

In the spring of 1995, together with some members of my family, I made a trip to Costa Rica, which proved gratifying in many ways. On the one hand, I had the opportunity to meet some people with whom to this day we are good friends, as well as to see a wonderful country, and on the other, I could see my nephew José Manuel, who had been living in San José for a quite some time, and who was to me like my sixth son. Moreover, I attended the spectacular Horse Show at Bonanza of that year. It was there where I witnessed an event which very much called my attention. After announcing the results of the competition, I noticed that the Judge gave the title of Great All-Round Champion to a colt which was not even one-year old. It came to me as a big surprise as well as produced a sense of indignation, especially since the quality of the rest of the horses was very good. Because of this, on my returning to Malaga, I published a letter explaining what had happened, which got the response from the Judge of the Contest, and which then was the reason for writing the first letter published in this book.

Except for this one letter, the rest of those that are published, as I have pointed out, is part of a selection of my letters of reply to the criticism launched at me by certain people in connection with the findings of my research. For this reason, there will be fragments of the history of the Spanish Horse found in almost all of them.

I can understand that some of the breeders of horses of the "bocado" bloodline may reject my work because, independently of the economic reasons, it always costs a lot to accept what contradicts one's profound beliefs. In this case, myths and fantasies had substituted history of the Spanish breed. Though they did not cease to be interesting, for these stories usually are placed solidly in the comprehension of reality when one is lacking a minimum of knowledge. However, I have never quite understood why some people would assume this debate to be a personal matter. This rejection manifested itself in the criticism which I had to face, and, as I have pointed out, I felt myself obliged to respond to. As time went by, the majority of the breeders and horse lovers accepted the new theories, and started to replace the old myths with a documented history which, from my point of view, has directly contributed to the improvement of our breed in the last decade.

From Costa Rica, we travelled to Mexico where my Mexican family was awaiting me: Griselle, Heinze, Luis Antonio Loredo Hill and their children. One evening, at a pleasurable gathering on his ranch "La Calera", at which some of their friends were also present, we talked about the Spanish horse. After having expounded my theories about the origin of our horse to the guests, and having insisted on them being right, my good friend Luis Antonio Loredo, who together with Maria del Carmen and Miguel Ángel de Cárdenas Osuna, also good friends of mine, were the first to know the results of my research, made mi promise that I would made it public the very same evening. And I did so in October 1998, when I published the book "History and Origin of the Spanish Horse". This marked the beginning of the publication of my work which, until this one, adds up to over a hundred articles and fourteen books.

Today, seventeen years later, I feel it necessary to bring some of the letters to light because the new breeders and thousands of horse lovers who have recently entered the world of the Spanish horse may find it helpful to have some of the questions that were raised at those debates clarified for them, for the better understanding of the present situation. Although at that time I was labeled a controversial person, I would like to stress that I have never considered myself as such, neither have I intentionally initiated any controversy. I only tried to argue my position and defend my conclusions to which I had come through research and through questions that some people asked in connection with my work. Really, the controversy was not in me personally, but rather in the findings of my research. Later, I went back to Mexico to do research on the horses of the conquistadors and, curiously enough, while travelling with the Loredo family, we arrived at the old Monastery of the Society of Jesus, which had been renovated and converted into a small hotel and a museum, where I found the first clue about the iron brand of "bocado", having noticed it carved in the back of a "bishop's chair". On my return, I went to the National Historic Archive, to the local archives of Úbeda, Cazorla, Villamartín, Arcos and Jerez de la Frontera, and again to the General Archive of Simancas, that of the Royal Palace and, lastly, to that of Grazalema (Cadiz) (where there was no existing documentation of that period), to see what I could find. It was in Jerez where I found the first documents on the Carthusian horses, and in the archive of Arcos de la Frontera I found all the ones relative to the origin of the iron brand of "bocado", as well as to the origin and evolution of the famous stud farm of the Zapata family.

In 2009, when the criticism was almost the thing of the past, following the publication of my book "History of the Lusitano Horse: Origin and History", came a new wave of discontent, similar to that which I had lived through nearly two decades ago in connection with the Purebred Spanish Horse, but which did not last so long. On this occasion, it ended with only a few letters of reply to criticism that came from Germany and Portugal, and which is also published in this book.

What I also want to say is that at no time have I responded to that criticism with asperity or, at least, I have never intended to. My aim was exactly the same as the title of this book, to write "Letters in Defense of the Purebred Spanish Horse".

I hope and I wish that this work would help some readers who did not have the opportunity to read these letters in the context in which they were published, and would make it easier to understand certain historic facts which, at present, are hardly ever questioned.

Characteristics

The book, which consists of 304 pages with text both in Spanish and English, has been printed on 150 gr. chalk overlay glossy paper, size 21 x 29 cm, has colour flyleaves in striped paper and binding with covers made of synthetic leather and with the title printed in gold, as well as a laminated colour jacket also with the title printed in gold. These features, along with more than 80 photographs, make it a beautiful piece of work essential in any library.  

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