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LIVING AND WORKING WITH THE HORSE OF SPAIN


Left: Peter on Cartujano playing the part of El Cid and Babieca in one of El Caballo de España shows in London. Photo: Jenny Goodhall


El Cid was buried at the Monastery


of San Pedro de Cardeña, and when Babieca died two years later at the age of forty, at El Cid’s request he was rewarded for his many years’ loyalty by being buried next to his comrade in arms after an arduous life of warfare. After the Peninsular War, their remains, plus those of El Cid’s wife, Doña Ximena, were moved to the Catedral de Santa Maria in Burgos, where they lie today. A statue of El Cid mounted on Babieca dominates the city of Burgos. There are no definite details of


Babieca’s breeding as there were neither Spanish state stud books nor registers at the time, but his great courage, strength, stamina and conformation characteristics are those which are held in high esteem in modern Andalusians.


The Powys Cob, or Welsh Cob as it is now known, received an infusion of Spanish blood in the fourteenth century, thanks to the Earl of Shrewsbury. In the seventeenth century, the


Duke of Buckingham, another passionate admirer of the Spanish horse, introduced its blood into the Chapman Packhorse, now called the Cleveland Bay.


Below: Danielle Lawniczak riding Purebred Spanish Stallion, Alamillo


an important figure in medieval Spain’s contest between Islam and Christianity. When Rodrigo was a young man, his godfather, a Carthusian monk, allowed him to choose any horse he liked from the monastery’s


herd. Rodrigo’s choice of an unprepossessing, poorly conformed foal disappointed his godfather and he cried, ‘Babieca!’ (‘Idiot!’), but his charge stood by his choice and called the horse ‘Babieca’. Rodrigo’s judgement was, however,


upheld when Babieca grew into a fine, strong, courageous warhorse with a widespread reputation as El Cid’s formidable partner on the battlefields. Such was their prowess that when El Cid offered Babieca to King Alfonso of Leon and Castile, Alfonso refused the horse saying, ‘God forbid that I should take him…for you and this horse have brought us great honour.’


In earlier years, however, de Bivar had


fought against Alfonso in the army of Alfonso’s brother, Sancho. On Sancho’s death, Alfonso exiled El Cid, accusing him of plotting against the crown. As a result, he became a mercenary and sold his services to the Muslim leaders until Alfonso, fearful of the Muslim invasion, persuaded de Bivar to fight for him again. But, in the years that followed, El Cid fought as an independent military leader. His final triumph was capturing


Valencia from the Moors after a long siege. Having been mortally wounded during one of his many skirmishes outside the city, and knowing nothing could be done for him, El Cid’s last command was that his body be secured upon Babieca and that they should be sent out against the Moors. For the last time Babieca led the charge, and the Moors, believing El Cid had been raised from the dead, fled in panic.


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CONTINUED IN SEPT/OCT ISSUE…


El Caballo de España &Peter Maddison-Greenwell


Peter holds Classical dressage clinics suitable for all levels from Novice to Grand Prix.


Dressage for all or for rehabilitation and welfare.


Look for aclinic in your area now. Please contact: Peter Tel:07947 523702


www.elcaballodeespana.co.uk Pleasemention CentralHorseNewswhen responding toAdvertisementsJULY/AUGUST2018 29


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