|First Posted: June 24,2009|
May 7, 2013
Andravida HorseAndravida Horse
The Andravida is a light riding draft breed found in the region of Ilia in Greece. It was developed in the early 20th century from Anglo-Norman stock being crossed with local breeds. Nonius stallions were then used after 1920. This nearly extinct breed's herdbook was established in 1995. It is also known as Eleia, Ilia, or Greek.
The most important part of the Andravida's appearance is that it is a large, strong horse. Its height ranges from 14 to 16 hands, with most of the horses at the upper end of the scale. It has a deep, muscular breast and powerful legs that make it a useful draft horse.
The head is regular with no remarkable characteristics. The coloration is generally shades of dark bay (often called 'brown') with chestnut or lighter blonde coloring being slightly less common. Many of the show horses of the breed have white markings on the head or sides, and these are considered perfectly acceptable.
Ilia is a prefecture in the Peloponnese in western Greece. It is well known for its breeding of the Andravida and other horses. The first reports of the ancestors of the Andravida horse came from the fourth century BC, where they were used by Athenians as cavalry horses.
These animals were large, strong, and powerful, and could be used for working as well as fighting. In particular, they were used in conquest and on trade routes to carry goods. The next we know of the Andravida is from the seventh century AD, when Greek forces took a census of their cavalry and counted many Andravidas among the horses used.
Throughout the 13th to 15th centuries, the Andravida was crossed heavily with Arabian horses which composed much of the Greek cavalry and also the French cavalry.
There is a legend about the Andravida which states that sometime in the Ottoman period, a sultan was presented with a pair of Andravidas by the Turkish governor. He was so pleased that he granted the residents of Ilia the exclusive right to breed these horses. This is one of the main reasons the horse is so rare today: historically, it has not been bred outside of Greece, and rarely outside of Ilia.
The Greek army continued to use Andravidas as cavalry horses until modern times, with a fresh supply of these horses coming regularly from Ilia. More recently, they have also been used as show horses, particularly in horse racing, and show jumping.
The newest development in the history of the Andravida may in fact save the breed from extinction. In the early 90s, the Andravida stallion Pegasus sired nearly 50 healthy colts, which were sent to breeders throughout western Greece. This led to the establishment of the official Andravida herdbook. However, its numbers are still small, and the Andravida is at high risk of extinction.
Permission given by my dear friend, Cowboy Frank to use his breeds section.