Spanish horses were prized as far back as Roman times. When the Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula, they brought the equally highly regarded Barb breed, which was then bred with native Spanish animals. The result was what is now called the pure Spanish horse: the Andalusian. Due to its size, color, endurance, and beauty, it became a favorite both among nobility and cavalry officers, but the breed nearly disappeared from Spain following a disease outbreak and the Napoleonic wars. In 1832, only one small herd remained, but from this herd, the breed was rebirthed and has spread worldwide, remaining popular for many of the same reasons it was prized by nobility throughout the middle ages.
There are around 8,500 Andalusians in the United States, making them very rare in North America. Worldwide, their numbers are around 30,000, but they are most popular in Spain, being recognized as the traditional horse for Spanish equestrian events, like bull fighting.