Use and characteristics of the Menorquin
Known on the island as the Cavall Menorquí, the Menorquin breed is both elegant and powerful. The breed’s slender, muscular conformation and proud action are some of the reasons equestrians buy a Menorquin. Stallions of the breed average 15.3 hands (63 inches/160 cm) high. There is a minimum height standard of 15.1 hands (61 inches/155 cm) for all male horses and 14.3 hands (56 cm inches/142 cm) for mares. Individuals weigh an average of 1100 lbs (500 kg). Black is the only permissible colour for registration, though when breeders sell a Menorquin some white markings are acceptable. They make good riding and driving horses and are best-known for their important roles in festivals and events on the island of Menorca, where they perform the elevade and bot movements that Doma Menorquina requires.
Origin and history of breeding Menorquin horses
Although the Menorquín only received official recognition as a breed in 1989, some evidence suggests that it is a type of ancient origin. Its conformation, spirited action and willing temperament certainly point to shared ancestry with other Iberian breeds such as the PRE and Lusitano. Research suggests that the Menorquin is classified with an eastern Iberian group, related to a now-extinct type of horse known as the Catalan horse. It’s possible that quality riding horses have existed on the island for many centuries since some Roman authors refer to them. Further influences came during the period when Menorca, like much of Spain, came under the rule of the North African people known in Europe as the Moors. This description came from the old name for the Roman province, Mauretania. The Moors and Berbers of north Africa were famed for the quality of their horses and equestrian traditions and the breed associated with them was the Barb, or Berber horse. Possible Berber influence on the Menorquin can be seen in the strong, arched neck and straight or convex profile, characteristics that can be found in other horses of Baroque type. Another line of research links the development of the Menorquin to horses that were brought to the island by the Aragonese king, James I. In later times, known influences on the Menorquin included Andalusian, Thoroughbred and Arabian horses. The Menorquin is an integral part of festivals and historic riding displays on Menorca. Equestrians on the island have developed their own tradition of horsemanship along with their own unique breed of horse.
Menorquin horses in equestrianism
The breed is noted for its athleticism, stamina and good conformation. These are essential qualities for Doma Menorquina, the island’s indigenous form of dressage that is combined with the Spanish tradition of Doma Vaquero. Trained horses can perform the famous haute ecole (high school) movements such as half pass and piaffe. Advanced horses can also perform the spectacular elevade, and the bot, or walking courbette.