The Iberian horse is the most ancient riding horse, whose 6000 years of history are well documented. This unique horse has had a broad influence and a major genetic impact on most breeds throughout Europe. The finest horses and horsemen were undisputedly derived from Iberia. So, it can be said that the New World inherited the finest for their equestrian beginnings.
The colonial development of the mission chain and California were destined to become the equestrian period of the West, often known as the “El Dorado”. Spanish horses are the common thread throughout our colonial development and our “seeds of change”. They arrived with Spanish explorers aboard their ships. They carried the great Soldados and colonists to the sights that were to become their missions and pueblos. These horses were the backbone of our legendary ranchos and the workhorse of our agricultural development that forever changed the lifestyle of our Native American people and helped bring the Golden Age of Spain to California and the West.
The Wilbur-Cruce Horse is an equine breed derived from Spanish colonial times which persist into the present day in as pure a state as can be determined. The need to continue to conserve this herd is great, since it represents a unique genetic resource. It also fits perfectly into the content of the Living History Museum, as it’s a major component in the development of colonial California.
In 1519, Hernando Cortez landed in Vera Cruz, Mexico, with ten stallions and six mares. These Spanish horses would become the foundation of the great Mission and Rancho herds of the New World. The superior quality and versatility of these Spanish horses made them sought after by Royal Stud farms throughout the world. This is the breed that became the ancestor to all indigenous breeds of the Americas.