If the Sorraia and the Spanish colonial horse are related, how come so many Spanish colonial horses look so different?

The Sorraia is not just a Spanish colonial horse. It was part of it, helped create it, but is much older. It was before Columbus. It was before Spain existed as a kingdom. It was before there were domestic breeds in Iberia.

Of the horses that were brought over by the Spanish, most likely only a small percentage were Sorraias, or of predominantly Sorraia blood. The horses of the Spanish conquistadores and colonists were mostly of man-made breeds, and of mixed lineage. From that foundation, all kinds of types could develop on America‘s ranges, and could be selectively bred by Man.

Whether the horses referred to today as "Spanish colonial“ are really in type (and lineage) what the horses of the conquistadores and Spanish colonists were, is very questionable. While for most of them a Spanish ancestry can reasonably be assumed, and can in many cases even be genetically proven, the average so-called "Spanish colonial horse“ today seems to have little resemblance of the proud Spanish war horse that was world-famous even at the time of the conquest.

Spanish horse, about 1650 – it shows hardly any resemblance

to most horses that are called "Spanish colonial horses" in America today.

This is the proud Spanish war horse – not some little pony.

Granted, this painting is not great in regard to accurate anatomical

detail, but the general type comes through clearly