We arrive on a difficult day at the farm Agropecuaria El Ancla, during the night one of their mares has died unexpectedly, leaving a filly of just a month behind, which now needs to be cared for with great dedication. Her name was Joropera and in the smiles of Francisco González Mendoza, one of the directors of the company, we can see a veil of sadness and worry. Ganadería Agropecuaria El Ancla is a family-run agricultural business founded in 1979 by Francisco’s father, Antonio González Sánchez, who brings it along with his three sons: Francisco Antonio, Juan Antonio and Gabriel Antonio González Mendoza. The company is dedicated to the breeding of PRE horses and bovines and to the cultivation of rice, cotton, sunflowers and wheat, the latter mainly used to feed cattle and horses.
The Canteruela’s ranch, together with the adjacent Dehesa de los Ramaderos, covers an area of 600 hectares, where cows and mares live freely in the pastures. The breeding started with mares and stallions of the Pallares and Guardiola bloodlines, but today horses are in most cases created with mares and stallions of the house, although to improve the selection, the firm tests stallions of other breeders, as for example Pavito MJB, now owned by Agropecuaria El Ancla, but bred by the Miguel Bohórquez brand. Reproduction is, for the 90% of cases, done with natural mating and produces about 35 horses per year. The company has a total of about 80 horses, of which 37 mares, 3 stallions, as well as other horses, both male and female, foals and fillies, and 200 cows and 100 other cattle, between bulls and calves. Although the mares have great importance in the genetics of the offspring, often the stallions are worth more, but for a reason purely related to productivity, González Mendoza explains “this year I will have 10 children of Pavito MJB, every mare instead gives me only 1 per year, it is true that now surrogacy is taking hold, but it is still a very expensive and therefore prohibitive practice.” The market seems to be growing compared to the past, explains Francisco “frankly I see it slightly rising, our main target are riders or riding professors who need horses suitable for sports.”
The firm , owners aside, employs 2 workers, Sergio and Juan. It seems clear that the morphology of the Spanish horse is changing, PREs today are slightly higher, but also because riders are taller, is part of the evolution, the real challenge, Francisco explains, is to select animals that are tall, but at the same time agile, “genetics are complicated, if I have a mare of 1.63 m, I will have to use a stallion higher than 1.70 m, to have horses of the height that we want, which is around 1.68 m at the withers.” The farming philosophy of Agropecuaria El Ancla is very clear, here the really important factors are the character and the predisposition to work of their specimens, “the horses can be taller and it is clear that morphology is important, but the character of these horses is worth much more and can not be lost, my goal and that of my family, is to maintain, in our selection, the good character of these animals, that docility and nobility that is a highly distinctive trait of purebred Spanish horses.” This farm has won many awards, between SICAB and various fairs throughout the country, but today they don’t compete much and only in dressage, Francisco explains “we devote ourselves to breeding not to win prizes, but because we love horses and because we are interested in a careful selection of our animals that are mainly intended for sporting activities.” The day at Agropecuaria El Ancla passes quickly, in a farm where the care for their animals and sustainability are the most important things of all.