From its foundation towards the end of the XV century, the Monastery of the Cartuja has been converted into the cornerstone of the Jerezano thoroughbred horses. For three centuries, which coincided with the centuries of greatest splendour of the kingdom of Spain, the Carthusian monks established a breeding stock which, through time, would be converted into one of the most celebrated and appreciated stocks in the world. The exemplary livestock management, carried out in the surrounds of the splendid Renaissance building, situated in an exceptional geographical location in terms of climate and fertility, where the universally renowned Jerez wines are also grown, was interrupted at the beginning of the XIX century as a result of the War of Independence and coincided with the years of splendour in Spain and, as a consequence, of its horses.
The Carthusian monks are a closed religious order which, governed by constitutions approved by Pope Innocence II, lead a rigorously ascetic life in retreat. The origins of the Cartuja de Jerez can be traced back to the XV century, when the landowner Don Álvaro Obertos de Valeto, made a proposition to the Friar of the Carthusian Monastery in Seville to found a monastery of this order in Jerez. Don Álvaro ceded the rights of the land which he owned in the municipality of Jerez to the Carthusian monks who requested the necessary licence from the Archbishop of Seville in order to found the monastery, which was granted in 1475. Three years later, work began on the building which we now know. In a short period of time, the Carthusian monastery had managed to amass substantial wealth from donations, the sale and exchange of goods which was added to the already significant assets inherited from Don Álvaro. Among the land acquired, was the Dehesa de la Fuente del Suero, which until then had been the property of the Genovese Celín de Bilbao who sold the land in exchange for 140,000 maravadies. Grazing on this farmland in the present day, five centuries later, are the beautiful specimens of the Yeguada de la Cartuja – Hierro del Bocado.
The true origins of this stud farm are unknown, although one popular anecdote has it that when tenant of the Carthusian monastery, Don Pedro Picado, was unable to pay his ground rent to the monks, he decided to pay them with in kind by offering them his mares and colts. These animals had been bought by Don Pedro from the brothers Andrés and Diego Zamora, farriers to trade, who formed this small stud farm from a stallion bought from a soldier, and one of its sons, a colt of extraordinary beauty and grace, called “Esclavo”. The descendants of this stud farm, which enjoyed great prestige, were called “zamoranos”. However, evidence which has come to light and which has recently been analysed along with historical studies, has shown that the monks already had a breeding stock at the end of the XV century.
The spreading of the Carthusian horses around the world means that there is a blood line descending from the Carthusian breed in many races around the world in the present day: Lippizza, Kladrub, Orloff, Holstein, etc. In addition, it is the Spanish horse which has given its name to the Picadero Español and to the extremely famous Viennese Spanish Horse School, founded by the Royal Court of Vienna in 1565, as well as the present day picadero, constructed by Carlos V in 1729. However, this opening up to the outside world has also meantthe introduction of foreign horses into our country which have been crossbred with the autochthonous breeds. The Carthusian monks were aware of the difficult situation that equine stockbreeding was going through. But they were also aware of the fine qualities of the mares and the Jerezano horses. At the end of the XV century, and following in the stockbreeding tradition of the Carthusian Monastery of Seville, the monks of Jerez decided to create a stud farm, which they would remain in charge of until well into the XIX century.