Comparison of PSL and IALHA/USEF Breed Standards for the Lusitano Horse

 The Association for Pure Lusitanos, the organization that registers all lusitanos worldwide (APSL) has a breed standard for the PSL that is defined in the studbook.  IALHA (an American Andalusian registry, that handles the registration processes for the APSL) and USEF have a breed standard for Purebred and Half-Andalusian horses.  The USEF and IALHA consider Lusitanos to a a division of the “Anadalusian” horse.  This breed standard can be found in the USEF IALHA division on the web.


For IALHA - USEF Andalusian/Lusitano division classes, this is the standard used for placing Andalusian classes, which is where Lusitanos are to be shown under USEF rules.  These classes then determine downstream awards, such as USEF Andalusian of the year and breeder of the year.

Because in IALHA/USEF licensed classes, Lusitanos are judged by a different standard than the one found in the APSL rulebook, they usually do not do well in these classes.

Having viewed years of IALHA/USEF shows results, there is a clear conclusion that Lusitanos do not excel in IALHA/USEF classes.   But it is one thing to write that Lusitanos don’t do as well, but I wished to document why.  So, I broke down the components of each breed standard to see if there are significant differences between the two.

As the breed standards are not written in the same format, I used the PSL Breed standard (left column), then pasted in the matching parts from the USEF Andalusian standard in the middle column.  Finally, I made a very basic assessment on the obvious differences (column 3).  I did not try to parse terms that did not use similar phrasing.  For the most part, I let the language of the breed standards speak for themselves to reveal the differences

My analysis shows that there are significant differences in the breed standards, as outlined below.  Note that the exact wording of the breed standards were copied, the readers can make their own interpretations.

·      ( PSL) Ardent (passionate) temperament  versus (Andalus) serviceable, docile.

·      ( PSL) Forward thrusting versus (Andalus) moving forward movement.

·      ( PSL) no winging allowed (by omission) versus (Andalus) excessive winging penalized (by omission winging allowed)

·      ( PSL) highly courageous and enthusiastic temperament versus (Andalus) temperate and hardy, serviceable and energetic, noble and docile (see 4)

·      ( PSL) Profile: subconvex versus (Andalus) straight or subconvex

·      ( PSL) Eye: elliptical (egg shaped), Versus (Andalus) triangular with a permanently raised eyebrow.

·      ( PSL) Eye: huge versus (Andalus) penalized for orbital arches protruding

·      ( PSL) Ears: Average length, narrow versus (Andalus) ears  attached slightly lower on the side of the head but must stand up straight without a curl to the inside or falling to the outside. The size must be in proportion to the head.

·      ( PSL) No comment  about “ultra” convex nasal profiles versus (Andalus) Penalized for the “ultra” convex nasal profiles.

·      ( PSL) with a narrow junction to the head versus (Andalus) nor a thick throat

·      ( PSL) Withers always slightly more raised than the croup versus (Andalus)  height to croup not defined

·      ( PSL) Long and deep versus (Andalus) well sprung and oval rib cage

·      ( PSL) Slightly convex, well connected to the back and croup with which they form a continuous and perfectly harmonious line versus (Andalus) not defined.

·      ( PSL) relatively slight point of the hip providing the croup with an elliptical transversal section versus (Andalus) nicely rounded with a low set.

·      ( PSL) Relatively long and oblique pasterns versus (Andalus) The pasterns should be of medium slope and length

·      ( PSL) Dry shin bones versus (Andalus) Cannon bones are substantial

·      ( PSL) The angle of the latter members are relatively closed versus (Andalus) angle not defined

Why is this important? In the USA, USEF and IALHA validate a breeding program.If the Lusitano does poorly in USEF recognized shows, the awards and medals programs, this reflects on the owners, breeders and most importantly, the Lusitano. Whether intentional or not, the USEF breed standard is used in USEF licensed shows to promote the Spanish horse over the Lusitano horse.

A Lusitano that does do well in such classes, is not a good representative of the breed.

A breeder who did not know better, might try to breed to the American Andalusian standard and that would detrimental to the breed in the USA.

Furthermore, the naïve buyer is looking to IALHA and USEF to advise them on making a sound investment and for buying advice.They will use the USEF breed standard as a guideline in horse buying.Buyer beware is obvious but it is also obvious, that this will create a situation whereby people buy a horse based on a standard that does not fit the breed.This is not fair to first time buyers.

Jill Malone