To speak of the Andalusian breed means to speak of numerous different things to numerous different people. The horse has an age old history and is a popular subset of the Iberian breeds mostly known for their work in dressage. However, the Andalusian has consistently proven it also has the ability to work around other four hooved animals with great skill. They are a well built and compact horse, making them exceptionally easy to maneuver around herds of cattle and other livestock. Their willing temperament helps them to learn quickly and adjust fluidly to a number of situations. While these traits are certainly an advantage for such things as dressage, there are more Andalusians these days that put their skills and abilities to use on farms and ranches.
The Andalusian's aptitude for practical work was recognized very early, when the breed was used as a capable and competent warhorse. It allowed armies to be swift and maneuverable on a mount that exhibited gallantry, strength and nobility. However, when wars were no longer fought on horseback, the reliable Andalusian still had a place for the people who loved and bred them for so long. Their next practical use came in helping with agricultural duties that supported localized economies. One of the most important of those duties was helping move cattle from one pastureland to another. Thanks to a remarkable body control, the sensitive Andalusian had a natural ability to relate to and keep up with herd movements simply by noticing its posture.
Training an Andalusian for cattle work starts very young. Before putting the horse and a small calf together in a pen, a trainer of an Andalusian will first spend time working on the horse's body movements. Making sure the horse listens and is maneuverable from the head to the hindquarters is very important when working with cattle. Once the trainer feels the horse is ready, training the horse to work with cattle can begin. The process in itself requires small steps over a period of time. However, since the Andalusian is a cooperative breed, the progression into a full fledged cattle horse is usually a smooth one. All the while, a trainer has the chance to watch and distinguish any extra strengths that may be present in the Andalusian.
Though mostly seen in Spain, the Andalusian is a common sight in competitive cattle working competitions. They have been shown to markedly excel in activities that require a high level of vigilance, such as roping. When they are not working with cattle, the Andalusian can also be seen working in the ring at bullfights. Such an environment requires a mount with the ability to be as courageous as it is intelligent. In such theatrical shows, it also helps to have aesthetic quality that captures the eye, something that is very present in the Andalusian. It is because of all this the versatile Andalusian will no doubt keep its high rank in the equine world just as it has throughout the ages.