What do you get when you cross an Andalusian with a Quarter Horse? The Azteca Horse – and oh my what a cross it is.
The Azteca is a relatively new horse breed; developed in 1972. The breed was born out of necessity, and although it is a young breed the popularity of the Azteca Horse continues to grow. They have expanded out of their original use working cattle and into other disciplines and are winning over the hearts of horse people everywhere.
The Azteca cross is not just limited to Quarter Horses and Andalusians, Criollos and Lusitanos are also used. The results are always the same: a stunning horse that has cow sense, endurance, speed, and a wonderful personality.
History of the Azteca Horse
The history of the Azteca horse begins with Charros in Mexico or Mexican cowboys. Charros had always appreciated and relied heavily on Andalusians and Spanish horses, using them primarily to work cattle. But they wanted an even better horse. So, the Charros began breeding their Quarter Horse and Criollo mares to Andalusian stallions. Their goal with these crosses was to produce a horse that could work on their cattle ranches with speed, stamina, and cow sense. They wanted a horse that was easy to train and versatile. They wanted a horse with heart.
The Charros used a scientific approach to creating the Azteca Horse to ensure the breeding program would accomplish their goals. They established a research center at Lake Texcoco, and this ensured the future of the Azteca Horse. The first Azteca horse was a stallion named Casarejo, who was born in 1972.
Many equestrians seek the ancient bloodlines and grace of Andalusian horses. It is thought that 80% of horse breeds trace back to the Andalusians. They were bred to carry knights into battle and are known for their stamina. However, years of breeding for show horses has changed the Quarter Horse breed some, and the Charros found that the Andalusian cross added larger feet and sturdy legs to their mares, improving their abilities on the cattle ranches.
The Azteca breed brings out the best characteristics of the Andalusian and the Quarter Horse in a beautiful cross. Azteca Horses have some general breed parameters. All registered horses must adhere to a strict phenotype or look. Horses are a cross between both breeds but there are strict breeding requirements. The original goal of the Charros was to have the Andalusian front end with the Quarter Horse hind end. The Quarter Horses used in breeding Azteca Horses must be no more than 25% Thoroughbred. Similarly, horses can have no more than 25% Criollo blood.
Azteca Horses average between 14.2 and 16 hands high. The Mexican breed association registers solid colors. The American breed association registers all colors recognized by the Paint or Quarter Horse associations. They have the curvy, arched neck and flowing mane and tail of the Andalusian. Azteca horses also have the sloped shoulder and hip of the Andalusian that make for a very smooth ride. The musculature of the Quarter Horse is evident throughout the body. Finally, they have the strength and spirit of the Andalusian with the speed and heart of the Quarter Horse.
The Azteca Horse Today
The Azteca Horse is now the national horse of Mexico. It was the first breed ever developed there. The popularity of the Azteca Horse also continues expanding to other parts of the world, including here in the United States. The Mexican breed association inspects horses several times before registering them. The United States also has a breed association that registers more horses each year. The International Azteca Horse Association is also promoting the breed now.
Many equestrian disciplines have Azteca Horses competing in them. Working cattle comes naturally to them, as do the other western sports like reining and barrel racing. Furthermore, Azteca Horses have rounded, flowing gaits and are becoming known for their dressage capabilities, just as the Andalusians are. Quarter Horses and Andalusians are both used in many other disciplines. The Azteca has shown itself just as versatile as both its parent breeds.
Finally, Azteca Horse owners enjoy trail riding. Many share stories about their horse’s fearlessness on the trails. Many enthusiasts enjoy that their horses want to be with humans and have the unflappable personality of the Quarter Horse. The Azteca Horse delights horse owners with their smooth gaits, trainability, and beautiful features. They have made an impact since the breed began and that will continue.