Ambassador for Omega Fields®

By Lisa Alley-Zarkades

The Pure Spanish Horse: An Exceptional Animal

The Pure Spanish Horse or P.R.E. (which stands for Pura Raza Española in Spanish) is a rare breed, and not often seen in the United States. In fact, only about 5,000 exist in the United States. Also sometimes referred to Andalusian in the United States, it’s one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world today.

Panadero, whose formal or registered Spanish name is Panadero XLVI, comes from a bull-fighting bloodline, which gives this stallion a very strong intellect and makes him very curious and engaging— important traits if he’s going to be used for working with fighting bulls on horseback. In addition, he’s passed the rigorous tests for reproduction, and is currently approved for basic breeding.

“This is a huge step because if you don’t get basic breeding approval, then you cannot breed this horse and pass on his bloodline,” said Lisa Alley-Zarkades, who, along with Gene Alley and Tricia Alley-Zines, own Panadero. “It’s the way breeders control the quality of the breed and therefore assures all P.R.E. horses are exceptional animals.”

Panadero’s Voyage From Spain to the United States

Lisa’s mother’s first cousin, Diana, married Jesus Osuna Diaz, who came from the Cardenas Osuna family—a prominent family in Écija, Spain. This city in the southern region of Spain is known for being a prime area not just for agriculture but also for horse breeding. Knowing Lisa loved horses, Diana told her about the Pure Spanish Horse breed and invited her to see their horses. Lisa then researched the family on the Internet. She learned that the Cardenas Osuna families were very famous breeders and that the Pure Spanish Horse was a very unique breed. One family member in particular, Miguel Cardenas Osuna, had success in selling to the Hollywood set such as Bo Derek, Michael Douglas and Keanu Reeves. Lisa immediately agreed that she wanted to see this breed of horse.

In February 2005, Lisa visited Spain for a week with some friends. They were escorted to the private Yeguada de Miguel Cardenas, a farm where Pure Spanish Horses are bred. This was the first time Lisa had seen a Pure Spanish Horse up close and personal.

“It was the most beautiful horse I had ever seen,” said Lisa.

That fall, Lisa received the famous auction flier from Cardenas for a live auction at SICAB (the Spanish National Horse show for the P.R.E.).  She logged onto the Web site and watched young P.R.E.s being paraded around by men in traditional costume while Spanish guitar music was played. Seeing the starting auction price, Lisa thought perhaps she could afford one.

In February 2006, Lisa made a return visit to Spain to see if she could purchase a very young stallion from Miguel, Jesus’ uncle. When she arrived, she learned Miguel was having open heart surgery that day. The manager of his farm said she couldn’t see his horses. However, Miguel’s brother Pedro (Jesus’ other uncle), who was also a famous Pure Spanish Horses breeder, agreed to show Lisa his three finest stallions for sale. So Diana and Jesus took Lisa to visit Yeguada Pedro de Cardenas who had purebred horses with the bull fighting bloodlines.

“I immediately became worried, thinking I wouldn’t be able to afford any of the finest stallions,” Lisa said.

She spent an entire day at this farm where she was shown each of the stallions’ walks, trots, how they rode, and each of their special characteristics. At the end of the day Lisa learned the family was expecting an answer on whether or not she wanted to buy one of the horses. She had fallen in love with one of the stallion. His name was Panadero.

Panadero was born May 14, 2002. His sire was Jaguar V, Champion of Champions at SICAB and a gold medal winner for his age class at SICAB. Jaguar V’s grandfather was Leviton, one of the most famous P.R.E.s in the history of Spain, whose mother was Quebrantada II, also a Champion and SICAB gold medal winner. On Panadero’s dam’s side, his great-grandfather Vasallo II, is also one of the most prized P.R.E. sires in the history of the breed, having set a record point score at SICAB. Lisa asked Pedro if they had ever sold a P.R.E. to a Californian. He said they had sold one to a man named Ronald Reagan for his famous ranch in California.

Lisa put a non-refundable deposit down on Panadero and asked the owner to hold the horse for six months while she made arrangements for the additional funds and for shipping him to the United States, as well as where he would live and who would train him.

In September 2006, Lisa made her third trip to Spain, again accompanied by friends and potential co-owners. After riding him and spending half a day with Panadero, they all decided it was the horse they wanted. “He had a very kind spirit about him, and I felt like this was a horse I could connect with and that maybe I could handle,” said Lisa. “I’ve never owned a stallion before.”

Upon returning home, Lisa worked on the tedious importing process. Panadero arrived at the Los Angeles Airport that November. “I was really impressed with how good he was coming out of the barn at LAX,” said Lisa, who added the breed is famous for having a very gentle disposition.

Panadero Begins “Liberty Work” Training

Before long Panadero was living at Carolyn Resnick’s ranch in Escondido, California, where he became immersed in her liberty work known as “Beyond a Whisper,” a method where the horse is not restrained in any way. This method does not use any tack, bridle or saddle—and many times not even a halter. Carolyn’s even written a book titled, “Naked Liberty,” which is about her life with wild horses and what she’s learned from observing herd behavior.

“Panadero’s particularly skilled at learning new things because he’s so inquisitive. He just loves doing it,” said Lisa. “When people see him doing this liberty work they are just moved by his performance. They sometimes cry because they’ve just never seen anything like this and didn’t know such a connection existed between human and horse.”

Continues Lisa, “The joy of owning him and seeing the joy he brings to other people is more than I imagined. He does require a lot of work and dedication, but the network of people who want to be a part of his life has been really rewarding. I don’t know what’s in store for me in the future, but I’m really open to whatever comes my way. It’s the journey that I’m really enjoying.”

Interestingly, and somewhat prophetically, Carolyn commented that she felt Panadero was special and that he was going to be famous. Carolyn did some filming of her work with him during his stay. That filming is now part of Carolyn’s DVD collection. Also, some of the filming is included in the documentary film, “The Path of the Horse,” by Stormy May (which has won film festivals awards).

In January 2009, it was announced that Panadero’s mesmerizing beauty was selected as one of five horses to be pictured on the Spanish Horse Visa Affinity credit card, created by The Foundation for the Pure Spanish Horse, a not-for-profit organization that develops, perpetuates and fosters an appreciation and understanding of the Pure Spanish Horse. Not surprisingly, the card featuring Panadero’s image is the most requested.

With his photo on a credit card and on Omega Fields’ Omega Grande bag, as well as being chosen as an ambassador for the Omega Grande product, being a star in a documentary, and having his own fan club and Web site, he’s already well on his way. Perhaps a Hollywood contract is next?

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