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Iberian horses



As Portugal is part of the Iberian peninsula for the search of the Lusitano horse's origins is not relevant to consider the political boundaries of today but to consider it from an Iberian perspective. From the earlier remnants that can be found from existing Iberian horses in the Iberian peninsula there is evidence supporting that there has been two different types of horses (Oom, 1992).

One is the Iberian pony which has been characteristic from the northern mountainous regions, with short hears and members, and head profile straight or concave. This type of horse has been found in prehistoric cave drawings at places like La Pasiega and Altamira in the north of the Iberian peninsula. The Iberian pony has been without major influences until to our days since has been only used in small agriculture or transport works in the mountainous regions, where there has been little influences from other horses (though it has been argued that the horses brought by the Celts of similiar type as the Garranos have interbred with the local horses). In Portugal this horse type is named today as Garrano. It can be found, for instance, at Gerês mountain where Garrano populations have a very close morphology to the Iberian pony found in the prehistoric cave drawings (Baptista, 2000).



Prehistoric drawing from the Iberian pony XX millennium B.C.

(adapted from Andrade, 1973)


The second type is what it will be called through this website as the Iberian horse. It is a bigger horse than the first type and has a head with convex profile. Earlier representations of the primitive Iberian horse can be seen in paintings done in caves at La Pileta (Malaga, Spain) which are dated from 20.000 B.C. (Andrade, 1973) and at Escoural (Alentejo, Portugal) which are dated between 17.000 B.C. and 13.000 B.C. (Cordeiro, 1992). The primitive Iberian horse could be found in the planes from the southern regions of the Iberian peninsula.  It became to be ridden at the end of the Neolithic  age and on the contrary of the Iberian pony this type of horse has been widely influenced by the man through the several civilizations that became established in the Iberian peninsula.



Prehistoric drawing from the Iberian horse XX millennium B.C.

(adapted from Andrade, 1973)


Comparison of the two primitive Iberian horses: the Iberian pony - today called Garrano; and the primitive Iberian horse which evolved to the Lusitano horse (adapted from Farinha and Correia, 2005)

Back or go to Evolution of the Iberian horse



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