There are two further levels of Breed Grading for the PRE: Qualified and Elite.
Above: History aside, some things never change . . ©
Within the brackets of the pure PRE there is claimed to be an exclusive line of purer blood known as the Carthusian.
The existence of this Carthusian bloodline is the subject of much discussion. It has both its supporters, and those who say it is more myth than history. I am a researcher by training and a romantic by inclination, and this is ground in which to plough parallel furrows. The facts are there, and at the same time their clinical correctness can be charmingly diluted by the smiling ’perhaps’.
Returning to our initial proposal, that breeders must distinguish the dreams from the facts, the Carthusian debate presents an appealing mix of the two. Undoubtedly, the name Cartujano comes from the order of the Carthusian monks, who were both diligent in commerce and devoted to their calling. The echoes of their presence still whisper in the monastery of La Cartuja, located on the outskirts of my beloved Jerez de la Frontera. Myths drift among its old bulwarks and tall walls, saying that it was here that a breed of Spanish horse originated, back in the rich shadows of the 16th century.
Above: The breeding program of the Carthusian Monks imprinted the
As I stand there, the impact of the Monastery shoulders the researcher aside, and I breathe in the romantic. The echoes become fleeting hoof falls, chinking saddlery, soft breaths from passing white shapes. Exceptional in their beauty, noble in character, the horses were bred and cared for by these Carthusian monks, but war was ever present, and the horses of la Cartuja were threatened. A Spanish monk of the Order, remembered as Don Pedro Jose Zapata y Caro, and his brother Juan Jose, gained ownership of a large number of the horses and managed to hide them from invading troops.
Thus the first Cartujano stud was formed. The sons of Juan Jose inherited the stud, and after their death, records show that it was bought by one Don Vicente Romero Garcia. After his death - as so often happens after the loss of a breeding visionary - the stud stock was dispersed.
Dispersed but not lost, and some of the most famous Spanish studs were based on these original horses, including the horses that made up the Terry bloodlines. In the 1980’s and ’90’s the Spanish Government took over what had been the Terry stud to form what is generally known as the Yeguada de la Cartuja, the Stud of the Cartuja, named after the monks and the monastery. The State Heritage department gave this new stud farm - also located in Jerez de la Frontera - the responsibility of maintaining and improving the 'unique genetic heritage'.
Above: Carthusian stallions in harness at the Yeguada de la Cartuja ©
All good history that fits the framework, and a bit of painting here and there that doesn't hurt, but……