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Lusitano Bloodline Basics

The Portuguese horse has a regal heritage.

The main distinctive attributes of the Lusitano breed of horse include a short-coupled powerful but extremely agile body with fine clean legs, a gently sloping croup with a low-set abundant tail, and a distinctive Iberian-reminiscent convex profile (whereas Andalusians evolved toward a heavier and stiffer body and a more Oriental head shape) with a powerful and well-proportioned arched neck, a long, noble head with large almond-shaped eyes and a luxuriant silky mane. As for coat color, Lusitanos can be any solid color, including black, buckskin, and palomino, but grey, bay, or chestnut are the most classical.

Their flexible bodies are perfectly adapted for collection, expression, and extension, making them ideal for high-level training like classical dressage. Furthermore, Lusitanos seem not only to understand the particular difficulties of this kind of training and what is expected of them, but they are also always willing to work hard and do their best to achieve perfection and please the rider.

The Portuguese Stud Book includes three main bloodlines: the Veiga, the Andrade, and the Alter Real.

Definitely intended to be a horse for kings, the Alter Real lineage is the oldest Lusitano lineage. Founded in 1748 by the Portuguese king D. João V, it has traditionally kept the morphological type of the Spanish horses of the 18th century: longer, stronger, and with high croups, it is very good for classical dressage and driving purposes. Only bay Lusitanos are bred at the Alter Real Stud, like the famous bay horses used by the Portuguese School of the Art of Riding, a direct descendant of the Portuguese Royal Riding Academy.

In 1807, when Napoleon ordered the invasion of Portugal, the French troops led by Gen. Jean-Andoche Junot ravaged the Alter Real Stud Farm, stealing more than 800 horses to replace the ones that they had lost in battle. Many of those unfortunately followed their predecessors or simply perished on the frozen steppes of Russia. As for the remaining ones, they ended up being crossed indiscriminately with smaller strong horses in order to breed field working horses. The Lusitanos seemed doomed to oblivion.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that all living specimens were gathered from all over Europe to repopulate the Alter Real Stud Farm.

Founded in 1894 by Dr. Ruy d’Andrade, the Andrade lineage produces tall and powerful horses, with a more rounded croup and a nearly straight profile. Great saddle horses with elegant gaits and a comfortable ride, the Andrades are perfect not only for mounted bullfighting but also for dressage and work.

Also from the late 19th century, the Veiga bloodline produces the most genuine war horses of ancient Lusitania. Extremely functional and smaller than the other two lineages, they possess the typical Lusitano convex head known as the “Veiga head.” An excellent choice for mounted bullfighting, the Veigas possess an agility, courage, and natural gallant nature that define this bloodline as a pure race within the Lusitano breed. In fact, Veiga stallions are often used on mares of other lineages to enhance the most typical traits of the breed in the offspring.

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