Saturday, August 2, 2014

Reason Why Icelandics Remind Me of Andalusians

When I went on riding holiday in Spain and met Andalusians for the first time (see above video that I shot of Andalusian stallion at Epona riding center near Seville, Spain), they seemed to be slightly similar to Icelandics in build and personality.  I don't mean any sharp similarities--just a hint, a soupcon, a trace.  In the April 2014 edition of Equus magazine, Dr. Deb Bennett contributed a fantastic article on "The Origin of Horse Breeds," in which she summarizes the latest morphological, zoogeological,  historical and genetic research about horse breed.

Around 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, there were four primary ancestors of modern horse breeds distributed across the world.  These subspecies were:
- Central European (equus caballus mosbachensis)
- Draft (equus caballus caballus)--which Dr. Deb calls a "pony/draft"
Afro-Turkic (equus caballus pumpelli)
- Tarpan (equus caballus ferus)

The drawings of these subspecies are derived from sketches by the German researcher Ernst Trumler who reconstructed what the appearance of these Ice Age horses from skeletons.   To me, the Equus caballus caballus looks  like a nice looking Icelandic.  

During the Ice Age, Equus caballus caballus was native to what is now Spain, western France, Scandinavia, extreme north of Germany, and British Islands.  DNA studies show that offshoots of Equus caballus caballus can be grouped into:
- northern draft group 1 (Mongolian, tuva, Fjord, Icelandic, Shetland, miniature, etc)
- northern draft group 2 (New Forest, Exmoor, Belgian, Percheron, Fell, Clydesdale, Shire, etc.
- southern draft and Hispano-American derivatives (Andalusian, Lusitano, Mangalarga Paulist, Peruvian Paso, etc.)

So Andalusians and Lusitanos are descended from the same subspecies Equus caballus caballus as Icelandics with both breeds having genetic input from different breeds based on history and breeders' desires. The Andalusians/Lusitanos are relatedm but not as closely as the average person would think, to the Arabian  and AKhal Teke which are derived from the Afro-Turkic (equus caballus pumpelli) subspecies.  So when I say that Icelandics remind me Andalusians what I am responding to are those draft/pony markers coming down from Equus caballus caballus.

There is an interesting connection between Icelandics and Thoroughbreds.  Per Dr. Bennett's chart of "Input from History,"  "Horses of hobby extraction taken from Dublin, Ireland, to Iceland" (p. 58).  A hobby was a small, racking or pacing horse.  (Per my research for an article on Ambling Horses in the Middle Ages, Henry VIII maintained a stable of Irish and native racing hobbies.)  The English thoroughbred are derived from native stock, including hobbies, with a lot of outcrossing to Arabians and some other breeds.  I have to admit that TBs have never reminded me of Icelandics.

I highly recommend this article by Dr. Bennett.  It makes fascinating reading.  

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