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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Carthusian   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Carthusian (also known as 'Carthujano') is a strain of an Andalusian breed that is purer than the Andalusian itself; the Carthusian strain has one of the oldest studbooks in the world. Therefore, the Carthusian can also be regarded as a strain which is closer to the original form of the Andalusian horse.

The story of the Carthusian breed began at the end of the 15th century, when a Carthusian monastery was established in Jerez, Spain. The monks who lived in the monastery had their own herds of horses, which they bred as part of a breeding program that they established. About 250 years later, in the 18th century, the monks received a herd of mares who descended from a dark-grey stallion called Esclavo who was owned by the Zamora brothers. Esclavo was known for his fine quality and excellent conformation, which he passed on to his offspring, and therefore, the monks decided to use the mares to establish the Carthusian breed.

Esclavo is largely regarded as the foundation sire of the Carthusian breeding lines, especially because the horses that were bred by the Carthusian monks were nicknamed "Zamoranos", after the Zamora brothers who owned Esclavo. However, it is important to remember that the monks had already owned and bred horses before they received the herd of mares that descended from Esclavo. It is unclear if the monks had included these horses in the breeding program, and therefore it is unclear how significant were the characteristic and blood of these horses in the creation process of the Carthusian horse, and if the advantages of the Carthusian horses can be attributed solely to Esclavo.

Over the next three centuries, the Carthusian monks refused to crossbreed their Carthusian horses with horses of other breeds, and thus kept the Carthusian bloodlines pure. It is this decision that differed the Carthusian line from the rest of the Andalusian breed. Indeed, both horses shared the same roots, had similar characteristics, and were bred in the same region (Andalusia, Spain). However, during the 17th and the 19th centuries, the Andalusian breed was crossed with horses of other breeds, while the Carthusian strain was not. Therefore, the Carthusian has less foreign blood than the Andalusian, and is considered purer enough to comprise a strain of its own, rather than being considered equal to other Andalusian horses.

In 1810, the Carthusian monks were forced to leave the monastery, and left their horses behind. After they left, a man named Pedro Joze Zapata bought from the monks 60 mares and three stallions, and continued the breeding of Carthusian horses in a pure manner, thus saving the strain from extinction. Moreover, by carefully selecting which horses of the stock to breed, the Zapata family managed to improve the Carthusian stock without introducing any foreign blood.

The Zapata's breeding program for Carthusian horses passed from generation to generation, until 1983 when the breeding program was handed to the Spanish State Heritage department, which maintains the breeding and purity of the Carthusian horses. Today, Carthusian horses are bred in the Yeguada de la Cartuja Hierro del Bocado stud, which is located near the Jerez monastery.

Carthusian horses have similar conformation and disposition to those of the Andalusian horse. However, there is one main difference between the breeds, and that is the presence of frontal bosses (also known as "horns", even though these are not real horns) in Carthusian horses.

Most Carthusian horses are in grey color, but black or chestnut foals are born from time to time. Carthusian horses stand between 14.3hh and 16.1hh


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