Horses have fascinated Spaniards since Neolithic artists painted images of steeds in the caves outside Ronda 20,000 years ago. The museum traces the evolving bond between man and beast, emphasizing horsemanship skills and the breeding of the Pura Raza Española, or “pure Spanish race.” The top blood lines of what English-speakers call the Andalucían horse were first established at Carthusian monasteries in the late Middle Ages. The Real Escuela, founded in 1973, trains horses and riders and operates a breeding farm. Performances of the exquisitely trained, so-called “dancing horses” (always Thurs at noon, but also other days depending on the season; 17€–27€) are a great spectacle. Before the show, you can tour the grounds and visit the saddlery and museums of equestrian art and carriages. On non-performance days, you can also visit the facility (Mon, Wed, and Fri, 10am–2pm; 6.50€–11€) and take in the same sights. But the highlight is the chance to watch a practice session. Even during practice, most horses and riders are a polished team. The last time we visited, we watched three trainers encourage a nervous horse to perform the signature chorus-line prances. Every few minutes, the trainers stopped to speak softly to the horse, rub his nose and pat his flanks. It was a revealing glimpse at the hard work, patience, and persistence behind the dazzling artistry.
- Frommer's Staff