Convex Heads

The head of the true typey Spanish horse is appreciated by many who seek the baroque style horse and traditional conformation. The following article summarizes the breed standards of several horses who also share the distinction of having a “roman nose” or convex head. The Spanish horse head is not truly a roman nose (as is seen in some drafts) but a slightly curved convex (or subconvex) to straight profile.

The oldest reference to the horse of the Iberian peninsula is its portrayal in the cave paintings and engravings of Escorial, 17,000 - 13,000 BC, in the Alentejo. These paintings show the convex head and arched neck of the true Iberian horse type.

The Lippizan breed standard states that a “slightly convex profile belongs to the breed character; the too-fine (Arabic) and the too-convex (ram head) should occur only infrequently”.

The Cleveland Bay standard states “The head of the Cleveland Bay still displays some characteristics that are reminiscent of the Andalucian, from which it is thought in part to descend, although these features are not so notable in the modern Andalucian as they were in his Renaissance ancestors. The sometimes convex profile which in former days was termed "ram-like" or "hawk-like", is am typical characteristic of Spanish stock.”

Spanish mustangs are compared to Spanish horses. Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, Ph.D. states that the Spanish mustang’s “. . .distinctive conformational features include heads which generally have straight to concave (rarely slightly convex) foreheads and a nose which is convex. This is the classic Spanish type head, in contrast to the straighter nasal profile of most other breed types.”

In Lusitanos three of the main lines have slightly different heads. The Andrades are described as “head profile nearly straight”, the Veigas have “the typical convex head known as the Veiga head”, and the Alter Real has an intelligent, quality head that is typically Iberian in shape, with a broad forehead.

The Hackney horse was “a riding horse with a particularly comfortable trot or amble and over the years the term became synonymous with a general purpose ridden and driven animal whose stamina and soundness were greatly admired and whose favored pace was the trot “ is supposed to have a “straight or slightly convex profile”.

The Sorraia, a feral horse type from Spain, has a “convex head profile, sometimes called a Roman head, or a ram head. This type of head has always been typical for the Iberian saddle horse, and only recently did a certain influence of Arabian horses result in different profiles in a number of horses.”

Kladruber was a breed “ developed in the western Czech Republic from Spanish horses, The head may be convex in profile, showing its Spanish descent.”

The Criollo horse, of Spanish origin, in South America has a head profile that is “distinctively convex.”

The Spanish Barb War Horse head is said to be “a lean head structure with a convex face profile.” 

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