For centuries, horses have been a symbol of power, virility and triumph for their roles as primary rides in the days of empires. As a result, horse breeding is almost like an art unto itself. Very few in the world have carried on the tradition quite like the Spanish. ‘Purebred Spanish: The Origin‘ unveils all that in this 2023 documentary feature directed by Francisco Javier Fernández Bordonada. The documentary takes audiences through Spanish history and the importance of horse breeding in it. Using archival footage, interviews and lush scenic shots of its subjects, it traces the history of the Spanish horses, from its supposed Arabic origin to its storied reputation in the equestrian world. With archives that date all the way back to the prehistoric era, it posits how deep rooted horse breeding has been in Spain’s culture.
The film offers a reverential look at the Spanish purebred horses as well as the vibrant culture surrounding it. The horses are presented almost like mythical creatures of great majesty. It goes into great detail to lay out its superior traits, discusses the science behind prime breeding, and vividly captures how much horsemanship impacts the individuals behind it. Alongside the steeds, the documentary spotlights the important figures who shape Spain’s horse breeding world. Breeders, trainers, historians, veterinarians, and riders were interviewed. Two of the most poignant among them involve a third-generation stockbreeder who possesses clear adoration of horsemanship and a young man who dedicates his life to training horses as performers. The gap in age only deepens the intergenerational nature of horsemanship.
Naturally, the film delves into the bond that forms between men and horses. From the grunt work of ranch life to the glimpse into the charmed world of equestrian theater, the documentary paints a clear picture of humanity that exists alongside horsemanship. Eventually, the discussion turns to the philosophy that forms as a result of the relations. Observing every interviewee passionately express their admiration for the horses is truly gratifying and sincere. Broken into chapters, the editing of the montages creates a flowy narrative that beautifully illustrates the passionate energy that allows the tradition to gallop proudly to this day. The film slowly moves from one section to another without losing any sense of momentum or excitement. Each chapter unfolds with new faces and new dimensions of the horse breeding world. It is truly eye opening just how expansive the equistry universe really is. It’s clear that the director did such extensive research to put together this documentary.
On the technical front, the film also delivers. Its vivid cinematography and lush editing give justice to the epicness of the gorgeous studs. The sweeping landscapes of Spain become the backdrop to the story of these gorgeous mares, showcasing them at their grandest. The lilting guitar score gives the movie a comforting melodic background that feels authentically Spanish. Meanwhile, the sweeping orchestral score elevates the film’s more dramatic moments. Beautifully shot and exquisitely told, ‘Spanish Purebred: The Origin’ is a cinematic love letter to Spain’s thriving horse breeding tradition.