Market Trends - Through the Looking Glass

By Kimberly Shogren. Edited and Illustrated by DeYoung. Added 02/01/08.

Just What is Going On Here?

Tonight is the season premiere of ABC’s smash hit LOST. The station recently re-aired last season’s finale, and unlike in previous episodes where flashbacks were looking backwards, the storyline featured vignettes that peered into the future. The episode was called “Through The Looking Glass.”

looking glassA looking glass, of course, is defined as a mirror for people to look at themselves in. Culturally, it refers to Through the Looking-Glass , a children's story (1871) by British writer Lewis Carroll. In this inspired sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice climbs through a mirror into a magical world where chess pieces come alive, and flowers, insects, and animals all talk. The story features bizarre characters such as Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Humpty Dumpty, and the well-known poems "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter."

For all of those folks who have just recently plunged into the world of the PRE horse, a description of the current state of organizations, registries and sales markets could look very much like an equine version of the story. The jargon, descriptions, and claims are confusing and intertwined.

The U.S. Andalusian horse industry in recent years has been marred by  rumors of Hollywood influence, alleged extortion, slander and even a nasty video on YouTube. The breed has not fared much better in Spain. Should owners, breeders and enthusiasts turn a cheek to these events? Or should they react? A middle way would seem most appropriate. Question, challenge, get the facts, and make your own decision based on analytical evidence. After all, hopefully we’ve conquered our childhood playground demons and are ready to look at the real challenges that face our breed through the eyes of adult wisdom and clarity.

What could be behind all the clatter with this breed? Is there hope that the groups in the US and Spain could somehow work in a harmonious and productive manner? What does it all mean for the P.R.E. investor?

What is at Stake?

dollar sign

Realize that the breed in of itself is an extremely valuable cultural and historical resource (especially for Spain) and also represents a valuable economy with the average market value of adult horses approaching $25,000 or more. In the U.S., people have spent a lot of money promoting the breed. Importing a Spanish horse adds more to the cost. Registry fees are high and so are promotion costs. There is a lot of money tied up in this breed.

Who are the Registries?

There are currently three registries available to serve the P.R.E. horse in the United States. They are the Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse (which just recently announced their intentions to offer registration services), the International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association (parts of which have been in existence since the first Andalusians were imported here in the 1960s), and the current holder of the Spanish Stud Book, ANCCE (as awarded by MAPA, the Spanish Department of Agriculture) which continues the tradition of quality control which has been going on in Spain for hundreds of years.

Below is a chart of services as described during the annual Foundation board meeting held in Dallas on January 25, 2008. (PRE Mundial is The Foundation registry.)

By reviewing the chart, it should be noted that there are obviously different needs within the market that drive how organizations function. After all, they all need monies and participants to exist.

What is their Usefulness?

For example, the first purchase of an Iberian type horse (a horse of either Lusitano or Spanish heritage or a combination of both) in the US is often the Half-Andalusian. The IALHA is the largest registry for Iberian horses and the registry for all types of half-Andalusians (Aztecas, Spanish-Normans, and sport horses also have their own registries). The IALHA provides an entry-level ground for the person interested in “Andalusians” and their organization is a useful tool through which newcomers can gain exposure to the Iberian breed by participating in and attending many nationwide functions and shows.

Because the Foundation and ANCCE do not track or register half-Andalusians, owners of half-Andalusians can be defensive of the IALHA when in comparison to the other organizations. This seems logical as there are very few other breed mediums in which to be engaged for comparison.

This is also true for owners of Pure Spanish/Portuguese horses. The IALHA provides a strong haven and support for the purebred SP which according to many people is the same breed of horse as the Lusitano and Spanish Horse. It is often true that the Spanish-Portuguese horse offers the best blend of both breeds and at a lower price tag.

What about those without Spanish Papers?

spanish flagThe IALHA offers “open” registration for horses of Spanish (as well as Portuguese) descent . By open, we mean that no inspection or testing was required for breeding approval. The horses must still prove they are descendants of properly registered horses (of either "S" Spanish or "P" Portuguese heritage or both).

But what about those "S" horses that are in IALHA but not in the Spanish Stud Book? Because of a multiple of reasons, there are many owners of Pure “S” horses that are in limbo because their horses do not have inscribed or revised papers from Spain. Some horses did not go through the initial grading process, have died, and now their offspring are in limbo. Some horses did go through, but failed, and now their offspring cannot go through the process. Some owners have sent in the paperwork to have their horses entered into the process, but the paperwork has not come back from Spain. And so on.

For the owners of non-inscribed/non-revised Pure Spanish horses that are in limbo, the Foundation now offers registration with their creation of the Carta Mundial. This is a great leap forward for these owners of “S” horses as the process of “inscription/revision” (albeit, conducted by the Foundation and not by the studbook of Spain) as well as the ability to participate at Foundation sponsored shows becomes available. (These shows were formerly restricted to horses holding papers from Spain and are proposed to be opened to all “S” horses that meet the Foundation’s criteria.)

What should New Owners be Aware of?

Owners new to the process should be advised that the Foundation’s process is not in conjunction with nor is it endorsed by the Spanish Stud Book. It does however, have the intentions to follow past Spanish protocols and has been endorsed by several former Cria Caballar officials (formerly involved in running the Stud Book before it was given to ANCCE).

So what does this all mean? In order to avoid potential confusion and lawsuits, potential P.R.E. buyers and sellers will need to be very explicit in the language they use regarding inscription/revision, Spanish Stud Book, and such. Does the horse have Foundation papers? IALHA papers? Or SPAIN’S formal papers?

Will the Foundation Merge with ANCCE in the Future?

The Foundation publicly supports and hopes for the future alignment of the Carta Mundial registry and the Spanish Stud Book. Whether or not this will happen, only time can tell. However, in the interim, the Carta Mundial provides breeders/sellers with the opportunity to provide some sort of documentation to potential buyers documenting Pure Spanish lines with the opportunity to engage in the revision process.

In addition, one should be aware that even as this article was being written, Spain (ANCCE) was taking measures to mend the problems started with the Foundation and are already setting up and working work with other PRE breeders in the U.S. ANCCE has a signed agreement from the largest PRE breeders in hand. USPRE, a group dedicated to the Dressage PRE Horse, seems to be the lead on this.

What Impact does all of this have with the P.R.E. horse in the US Marketplace?

picture of andalusian horseAs with many other breed registries, the functionality, purity and traceability of the bloodline in the Spanish Stud Book going back over 100 years is of great value. Buyers who realize the importance of the revision process will ultimately seek horses that submit to the standards perfected over time and that are entered in the Spanish Stud Book.

Owners of Pure Spanish horses not eligible to be registered in Spain, will now have a revision process in the US that will add value in the market when in comparison to S/P’s or Half-Andalusians of the same search criteria.

These horses (Carta Mundial) will have been evaluated by a non-biased third party over set criteria, versus an owner’s perception of a horses characteristic. Participation in this process is strongly suggested for "S" horses that are in limbo from a sales perspective.

So What does it All Mean?

Ultimately, for the P.R.E. investor, providing that talks with Spain somehow work out and the inscription/revision process will continue with the Spanish Stud Book, pursuing registry in the venue of most importance to you is recommended. Whether that means registry with one group, or with all three, your horse is still considered one of the most beautiful and noble of all the world.

What does the future hold for our Iberian horses? It’s yet to be seen. Maybe someday there will be an equine version of Lost on RFD-TV. Until then, I’ll stick to watching ABC’s version. At least the pocketbook won’t take a hit from their arguments!

Skyhorse Ranch - Andalusian horse breeder in Texas with Andalusian horses for sale. Breeders of PRE Pura Raza Espanola horses with cartas from Spain. Selling black, grey, and bay Andalusians. Recommend Andalusian stallions at stud. Pictures, history, facts, and info. Spanish Andalusian horse farm. Bloodlines from Spain in the USA.

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