“El Ardón” is a beautiful and substantial estate mainly devoted to olive groves in Arjona, in the Andalusian province of Jaén, that has been in my mother’s family for many generations.
My late father D. Juan Díaz Criado created the brand for the mares and horses that nowadays I have. It shows the initials of my father’s name: a J (Juan) whose stick is part of the D (Díaz) and everything is surrounded by a C (Criado) to create “Juan Díaz Criado”.
Though “El Ardón” has had equines from times of the King Alhamar (born in Arjona in 1195, founder of the nazarí dynasty, king of Granada and builder of the Alhambra), in these days the horses and mares were used solely for agricultural works; in fact, with the mechanisation of the countryside these horses were on the point to disappearing. But my love of horses springs from my childhood, growing up on the farm, where there were still horses and I was always able to ride.
It was in 1970 when it truly began to take shape my love for them: I bought fillies from Romero Benitez in “Cortijo de Duchas” in Jerez. It was with the advise of my “master”, my veterinary Mr. Bartolomé Mateos Peral and my foreman Mr. Francisco Casado Quero. They both had the enthusiasm and above all, the profound expertise that aided and guided me always.
A few years later, I bought others fillies from the late D. José Bohórquez Ruiz (Paroja among them, which deserved a Guinness Award) at “Cortijo de El Machorro”, a fine estate in Medina Sidonia, near Jerez.
Starting with these two very old brands (established 150 years ago), I embarked on my journey of becoming a breeder of PUREBRED SPANISH HORSES.
As I have always felt quantity to be somewhat at odds with quality, I usually limit the number of brood mares to ten/fifteen.
Thanks to the breeders who preceded us, the guidance of my two dear friends and my own qualifications (I am an agricultural engineer, and I have lived and worked at Ardón since 1964), we made our way and further refined the selection with which we have started.
With such a small number of mares my approach has not been to participate in public contests. However, my horses serve as my ambassadors and are to be found throughout Spain, Europe and America.
Nowadays, I have changed my mind and I am going to submit to competition just to hear from the judges that my horses are as good as I believe (link in Jaen 2005 Morpho-functional Contest, where we got very good results). Lately I am selling horses for Dressage to reputable horsemen to compete.
Our brand is now the oldest in the province of Jaén and must be roughly between the 20th and the 30th oldest brand in Spain.
I have always shunned consanguinity and once every four years I have to buy a Stallion from another reputable Spanish brand.
There is a Spanish saying… “If you want to realize the true worth of your horse, you should sell it and buy another…”
The stallions that have served our mares at this stud include Levitón, Reberte, Ulster, Telegráfico, Jenson… from YM (Militar Broodmare) and nowadays Velero XI, Cepellón (both Spanish Champions several times in carriage) , Colombiano III from Bohorquez, Juicioso VIII, Llamativo II from D. Benito Zoido, etc., all of which are from well-known Spanish brands.
I hope you enjoy my horses as much as I do.
Juan Díaz Navarro