The National Horse of Mexico - El Caballo Azteca
A new breed of horse, known as the Azteca, is in demand in Mexico. It is the first breed to be developed in Mexico and was designed from the beginning to suit all that is required of a Mexican horse. The majority of horses in Mexico are descendants of Spanish horses, and the since the Spanish horse has always been preferred in Mexico, the Andalusian was the foundation for the new breed.
Several horsemen living in Mexico in the late 1960's decided to re-create a horse that no longer existed. It was to be reminiscent of the horses originally brought to the New World by the Spanish Conquistadors; symbolic of Mexico; and, it was to have cow sense for working the cattle ranches of the charro (cowboy); and it was to be an accomplished performer in typical Mexican events such as fiestas, parades, and as a mount for the Rejonero in the bullfighting ring.
After several years of experimentation and research, a new breed of horse was created in Mexico in 1972 called the Azteca from Andalusians crossed with Quarter Horses and Criollo mares.
The worldwide Registry for Azteca horses is maintained by Asociacion Mexicana de Criadores de Caballos de Raza Azteca (AMCCRA or The Azteca Horse Association of Mexico). This is the only organization approved by the developers of the breed and by the Government of Mexico to register Azteca horses and to legally use the name "Azteca". There are about 2000 Azteca horses currently living in North and South America, and Spain which have been approved by the International Azteca Horse Association. The AMCCRA and the Government of Mexico are continuing these efforts to refine the Azteca and to define the main contributions of each of the three founding breeds to the phenotype. It has acquired so much recognition that it has earned the title of the National Horse of Mexico.
The Mexican version is the original, but there is an American type that deviates from the Mexican in several ways, some of them subtle, some of them major. The main difference is that in the American Azteca, both Quarter Horse and Paint horses that can prove no more then 1/4 TB can be used for breeding the American Azteca. All American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and American Paint Horse Association (APHA) markings and colors are acceptable. The Mexican variety does not allow Paint, Appaloosa or albino. Additionally, the American Azteca allows only Andalusian and Quarter Horse crosses, while the original Mexican variety allows Criollo.
The American Azteca Horse responds well to the different disciplines that require suspended and elevated gaits and to those that require a skillful working cow horse or western horse. The horse inherits its beauty, temperament, spirit and agility from their Andalusian genes. The Andalusian side also allows them to be incredibly athletic and smooth to ride with a naturally collected movement. The Azteca gets its strength and speed from the Quarter Horse side and has an outstanding ability to learn; is extremely easy to train; and once it learns something, it never forgets.
The American Azteca ranges from 14.2 to 16.0 hands but the original Mexican Azteca should be 14.1 to 15.2 hands (mares) and 14.2 to 15.3 hands (stallions). This height was established in consideration of the Aztec’s intended use in Charier. The head is medium sized with a straight, slightly convex or slightly concave profile with a broad forehead, expressive eyes and medium-sized ears. The neck is well muscled and slightly arched with a medium crest. A long flowing mane and a well set medium to low tail are often seen. The coat is silky and only solid colors are permissible by the Mexican registry.
It is important to note that two Azteca associations in the United States allow Paints into their registries, but the Mexican registry does not. These U.S. associations are not affiliated with Mexico's Azteca breed association and have chosen to establish their own standards and breed development guidelines.
Azteca Horse Registry of America (AHRA) has registered over 450 American Azteca Horses since 1989. They feel that crossing the American Quarter Horse and the American Paint Horse back into its original Spanish gene pool by breeding it to the American Andalusian/Iberian/PRE/PSL correctly depicts the beginning of the Quarter Horse breed in early Southwest America.
The American Azteca Horse International Association (AAHIA) was formed in 2000 for registering and promoting American Azteca horses. The AAHIA takes into consideration the needs and marketing demands of American tastes, rather than the Mexican needs, or their market. The AAHIA feels that for the Azteca to be successful in the United States, the American people want a different type of horse than the type that is desired in Mexico. The American Azteca Horses will be modeled closely after the original Mexican standards, but with a little more diversity to fit the American market. So, since a horse cannot legally be called an Azteca unless it is inspected and approved by the Mexican association, they are calling their breed the American Azteca Horse, so as not to imply that these horses are Mexican bred or registered.
The American Azteca is a combination of 2 registered breeds: Andalusian (all lines of Spanish, Lusitano, and Spanish/Lusitano) and registered Quarter Horse or Paint. They do not recognize any other breeds. As of January 1, 2004, all American Azteca Horses being registered must have DNA analysis performed to confirm the parentage of both sides.
If a horse is also registered with the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (ALHA), the AAHIA will not accept the AQHA or APHA pedigree that is on the horse's IALHA papers. However, they do accept the Andalusian side of the pedigree. For the AQHA or APHA side of the pedigree, they need either a copy of the original AQHA or APHA registration papers; or a copy of the pedigree officially prepared by the AQHA or APHA only. A minimum of 4 generations is also required. Additionally, you cannot register a horse with the AAHIA unless you are a full member of the AAHIA at the time of the registration.
Because of the Quarter Horse background a genetic condition known as Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP) is possible, therefore any horse found to have the bloodlines of a horse called "Impressive #0767246" in their heritage, must have their horse tested for HYPP. Only horses with the result of N/N will be accepted for registration. HYPP is inherited as a dominant trait and is characterized by intermittent episodes of uncontrolled muscle tremors (shaking, trembling or twitching) or profound muscle weakness, and in severe cases, may lead to collapse and/or death.
With all these things going for it, the Azteca breed, whether Mexican or American, has a valuable place in the equine world.