By Jacqueline Monahan
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Pure Spanish Horse Exhibition at South Point Equestrian Center

You may have encountered the bronze statue of a horse and rider while strolling through the South Point Casino, just past the buffet and down the wide hallway that leads to the Equestrian Center on the second level.

An escalator ride leads to the arena where some of the most magnificent horses await to prance and paw before you in a mesmerizing parade of equine elegance.


Equestrian Center Hallway Entrance
Photo by John Hardin

From August 30 - September 3, the Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse, or P.R.E. (Pura Raza Española) hosted a National Celebration of the championship horse, sponsored by Yeguada Centurion of Segovia, Spain.

These are the horses featured in the films Lord of the Rings and Kingdom of Heaven.  They are the stars of Medieval Times, the knight tournament that shows off their majestic presence in an action-packed performance of battle competition.  Also known as Andalusians, their distinctive flowing manes and tails enhance an already regal nature.  They are one of the rarest breeds in the United States.


Rehearsing for the Show
Photo Credit:  John Hardin

They have long been known and admired by royalty as the “Horse of Kings” due to their beauty, grace and athleticism.  Like visions of mythical fantasy they seem to float through the air, like modern day versions of the legendary Pegasus.

The five-day celebration featured a daily horse show that was free to the public, an Art Expo, silent auction, a live auction of a Pure Spanish filly, vendors, and a variety of educational clinics, including two seminars featuring the Top Horse Presenter in Spain, Daniel Isidoro Muñoz. and Breeding Farm Technical Director, Alberto Abajo. 

Daily exhibitions included horses of all breeds competing in dressage (fancy hoof work that resembles marching and dance steps.  A Musical Freestyle Challenge offered a $5000 grand prize.


A Regal Breed
Photo Credit:  John Hardin

Horses also competed in halter (a competition where they are walked, not ridden to show off conformation – *see below) Spanish Walk emphasizing forepaw placement at a high arch) Piaffe (raising front and back legs on opposite sides simultaneously) Passage and Rail classes (rider and horse follow precise directions) Carriage Driving, and Working Equitation (obligatory movements that horses must master in the various styles of riding).


At a Trot
Photo Credit:  John Hardin

*Conformation: the standard of the ideal of a breed.  About 80% of Andalusians are gray or white, 15% are bay (reddish brown with black man, tail, and lower legs) and 5% are black. Andalusian foals are born black or dark brown and turn gray or white with age.  Characteristics include a straight profile, broad forehead, large eyes, long, thick, well crested neck, low set tail, short, strong body, broad chest and hindquarters, clean-cut, elegant legs, long, sloping shoulders, and an abundant mane & tail.


Mane Event
Photo Credit:  John Hardin

Now imagine these gorgeous creatures doing a sidestep - trotting sideways in an elegant gait that you might expect from a human hoofer (think Fred Astaire in Top Hat).   They are even capable of taking a bow more graciously than any newly knighted royal subject. 

Thursday’s main event featured a Mexican Heritage Night with an El Puma de Sinaloa Concierto y Baile with special guest La Sonora de Colombia.  If you’ve ever wanted to see a concert where the lead singer performed the entire event on horseback, this was the place to be.

The final night culminated in a Horse of Kings Theatre production which told the story of this idealized breed, beginning with a quartet of the beauties running in a mini herd throughout the arena.


Equitation Formation
Photo Credit:  John Hardin

The parade of talent continued with classical Dressage, Liberty, (a form of horse/trainer interaction on foot) Doma Vaquera, (traditional working riding discipline of Spain) and Spanish Garrocha, (horse and rider maneuver long poles in formation).  The colorful performance included dancers and various styles of music, but the horses were the undisputed stars of the night.

Also appearing were stallions and trainers from the renowned Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament who gave a demonstration in hand-to-hand and horse-to-horse combat.


Classic Stallion with Trainer Victor Lara
Photo Credit:  John Hardin

For many it was an introduction to the Pure Spanish Horse.  For others, it was a chance to see the near-mythical qualities of grace, strength, and aesthetic perfection, come to life here on earth where mere mortals dwell.

They are the Pura Raza Españolas, the horses that know how to bow to an audience.  The best thing your humble correspondent can say about then is that they inspire you to want to bow back.

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