Spanish Jennet

A jennet, often known as a Spanish jennet, was a small horse native to Spain which became extinct.

It was known for having a smooth naturally ambling pace, a compact and well-muscled body, and a pleasant demeanor.

The Jennet was an excellent light riding horse, very popular across Europe, and later it was also the progenitor of various horse breeds in the Americas.

Spanish Jennet Breed Info

Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Spanish Jennet:

Height (size) 13.2 – 15.2 hands high
Colors Solid colors as well as pinto or leopard patterns
Country of Origin Spain
Common Uses This breed is now extinct

Spanish Jennet Facts & Information (Breed Profile)

Development of the Breed

There is evidence that spotted horses with unusual color patterns existed as early as 15,000 – 10,000 B.C. in northern Spain and southern France.

The requirements of warfare had a significant role in shaping the ancestors of the Jennet horses, which were once considerably bigger, and heavy enough to carry armored knights.

However, as a result of the Spanish resistance to the Moorish invasion, there was a need for smaller, more agile animals that could match the athletic Arabians.

During the course of these breeding practices, a number of animals exhibited spotted patterns and fluid, effortless gaits, characteristics that would later be associated with the Jennet.

The breed was held in high regard, and used as a status symbol by royalty or other high-ranking officials.

The jennets were one of the most commonly used horses by the Spanish light cavalry after the Middle Ages.

The Jennet was later brought to the New World to accompany the Spanish conquistadors, and it is this breed that is the progenitor of almost all gaited breeds found today in the Americas.

The Origin of the Name ‘Jennet’

In the past instead of referring to a specific breed of horse, the term “jennet” was rather used to describe a type of horse.

In truth, throughout the Middle Ages, this was a frequent name for a type of horse that often gaited, and usually of Iberian or Barb origin.

The term “jennet” originates from the Spanish phrase “à la jineta”, which describes the “balanced seat” method of riding in which the rider bends his knees and places his ankles below his hips.

This style enables the horse to circle its back and coil its loins, which results in movements that are more collected.

The name is said to be a corruption of the Berber word Zenata, which is the name of a tribe famous for their horsemanship.

With time, the term came to refer to the type of a horse rather than the style of riding.

Jennet – a Gaited Breed

During the development of the jennet-type horse in the 1500s, posting at the trot was not yet a common practice. (It did not appear until the middle of the 1700s).

Gaited horses, which “ambled” rather than trotted, were sought after by horsemen because they provided a more comfortable riding experience.

As a direct consequence of this, a great number of jennets were gaited horses, which were known as “caballos de Paso” in the New World.

These horses were able to perform a running walk over long distances, which made the rider less tired and sore after a long day of riding.

Ambling or gaited horses were gradually phased out of European breeding as haute école (later to become dressage) developed in the 16th century.

The Modern Jennet

The Spanish Jennet Horse Society is an up-and-coming breed registry that is working toward the goal of producing gaited horses similar to the Jennets that existed in the past.

The association registers two varieties of these gaited, colorful jennet-type horses: Atigrado, which are horses with at least 50% Paso blood with Appaloosa markings, and Pintado, which are purebred Paso horses with pinto patterns.

According to the registry the Pintado horses must be a 100% Paso Fino, while the Atigado horses need to have at least 50% of Paso Fino blood.

If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!

Alternative Names



Energetic, but docile

Physical Characteristics

A well-proportioned horse of moderate height and build.

The ideal physical look is one of refinement, characterized by a well-muscled loin, a deep chest, and well-sprung ribs.

Additionally, the back should be strong and of medium length. Spanish Jennet was gaited.


Solid colors as well as pinto or leopard patterns

Height (size)

13.2 – 15.2 hands high







Blood Type


Common Uses

This breed is extinct



Popular Traits

Natural ambling gait, and spotted coat



Country of Origin



Barb, Iberian horse