Lusitano breed information
Lusitano horse general information
COLORLusitanos are generally gray, bay or chestnut, though they can be of any solid color, including dun. Only bays are bred at the Alter Real stud.
SIZEThey usually stand 15.2 and 15.3 hh (62 to 63 inches, 157 to 160 cm), although some stand over 16 hh (64 inches, 163 cm).
WEIGHTWeight can be between 700 and 1100 lb (310 - 490kg).
TEMPRERAMENTThe temperament of the Lusitano horse is universally kind and willing, noble and generous. This breed remains calm and does not panic easily and is noted for its intelligence.
These horses are very similar in conformation to the Andalusian horses of Spain. The two breed are thought to have originated from a common source but selection in the Lusitano has resulted in a more convex profile reminiscent of the old Andalusian or Iberian horse whereas the Andalusian as developed a more Oriental head shape.
Since setting up their own Stud Book, the Portuguese have been able to make great strides in monitoring and improving the breeding program. Having been sought after over the centuries as a war horse, the same genetic abilities enable the Lusitano to be the perfect horse for mounted bullfighting in Portugal. In Portugal the bulls are not killed in the bullring so the horse must be very agile and still remain calm.
Breed characteristics :
Lusitano horse breed has a long noble head, most typically with a convex profile, narrowing to a finely curved nose. Large generous eyes, inclined to be almond shaped. A powerful arched neck with a narrow hairline, deep at the base and set at a slightly wide angle to the shoulder, giving the impression of being fairly upright. A high wither leading smoothly from the neck to the back. A short-coupled body with powerful shoulders, a deep rib cage and broad powerful loins. A gently sloping croup with the tail set rather low and an unobtrusive hip. Fine clean legs with excellent dense bone- the hind leg positioned well underneath the body axis, producing the hock action so suited to collection and impulsion. Agile elevated movement coupled with a smooth and comfortable ride. An abundant, silky mane and tail.
Throughout history, reference is found of an ancient breed called the Iberian horse. Named for the Iberian Peninsula in Europe, which today is composed of Spain and Portugal, this magnificent animal was renowned through the centuries for its athleticism, courage, and kind temperament, as well as its majestic bearing and beauty. In modern times, the Iberian horse is credited as the source of two closely related breeds the Andalusian of Spain and the Lusitano of Portugal.
Throughout much of history Spain and Portugal were a single region, broken into sub-regions with various names. At one point the entire peninsula was called Al-Andalus, which undoubtedly led to the Andalusian breed name. Eventually, however, one specific region of Spain came to be called Andalusia. As a result, Andalusian breeders in Spain felt an unfair advantage was given to farms located in that province, so in 1912 Spain established a new studbook and a new name "Pura Raza Espanola (PRE)" which means Pure Spanish Horse. Despite the name, breeders continued to use horses from both Spain and Portugal until the Portuguese decided to establish their own breed registry, the Associacao Portuguesa De Criadores Do Pura Sangue Lusitano (APSL), in the late 1960s.
Research indicates that the Iberian horse was being ridden as early as 4000 - 3000 BC, with evidence suggesting that cavalries were used in times of war as early as 2000 BC. Xenophon, the Greek cavalry officer and writer generally recognized as the father of classical horsemanship, noted the gifted Iberian horses that helped the Spartans defeat the Athenians around 450 BC. In the Second Punic War (218-210 BC), Hannibal defeated the Romans several times through the use of cavalry forces mounted on Iberian horses. However, the Romans eventually conquered the Iberian Peninsula. So impressed were the Romans by the Iberian horses and cavalry that they established stud farms of their own in the region to provide mounts for their military campaigns in Britain and elsewhere.
The Romans not only adopted the Iberian horses, they also adopted the Iberian cavalrys battle style. The airs above the ground made famous by the Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna were originally developed by the Iberian cavalry for battle purposes. This type of military use of the Iberian horse continued for many centuries, until the increasing use of heavy armor for mounted knights resulted in the need for a larger draft-type horse, and the Iberian horse was slowly displaced as a war mount. However, this was eventually reversed as the development of firearms rekindled the need for a lighter, more agile horse. The Iberian horse, which by this time was often referred to as the Spanish horse, regained its favor as a cavalry mount.
At the same time, the nobility of numerous European countries discovered and developed the art of dressage, where the maneuvers used in battle evolved into a classical style of training and riding. Royal riding academies were established to foster this new art, and the Spanish horse was recognized as the ideal dressage mount. In fact, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, famed home of the white Lipizzan stallions , was so named because Spanish horses were originally used there, and were a predominant factor in the foundation of the Lipizzan breed.
Lusitano health and genetic issues
Because most Lusitanos are grey, they tend to be prone to melanomas. Melanomas are a problem in any light-colored horses due to the lack of pigmentation in the skin. They tend to form in areas where the hair is thin, such as on the muzzle and around the tail, so keep an eye out for bumps in these areas. Should you notice anything untoward contact a vet immediately as these need to be checked out straight away.
Lusitano fun facts
The Lusitano derives its name from name given to the people of Lusitania, one of the main celtic tribes that occupied what is today Portugal.
Information for Lusitano contributed by
Joana Eça de Queiroz for clearing the Lusitano name origin