Lusitano - Noble of Spirit

The Portuguese Knight

The handsome Lusitano breed has a lot more going for it than striking good looks.

“Lusitanos remain strong and competitive even into their 20s,” says professional horsewoman and breeder Tara Dahnke, pictured here on her 21-year-old stallion, Nassib Do Mirante. “Nothing compares to the structure of the Lusitano!”

“Lusitanos remain strong and competitive even into their 20s,” says professional horsewoman and breeder Tara Dahnke, pictured here on her 21-year-old stallion, Nassib Do Mirante. “Nothing compares to the structure of the Lusitano!”

Portugal gets precious little global gratitude considering it gave us navigation, the Age of Discovery, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and a wide array of spices. To the list of long-overdue thank-yous, add the country’s gift of one of the greatest breeds of horses: the Lusitano.

Never heard of it? Take a close look at a House of Staunton chess set knight piece. With its convex profile, distinctive muscular arched neck sloping to a broad chest, and full thick mane, it’s the perfect representation of a baroque horse. And the perfect baroque horse has to be the Lusitano.

In the equestrian world, the word baroque describes a type of horse directly descended from medieval horses. Originally bred to be the ultimate war horse — fearless and reliable, able to carry bravery to extremes, and willing to protect its rider at all costs — modern breeds of the baroque type include Friesians, Lipizzans, Andalusians, and Lusitanos. The latter, in particular, soon revealed a noble character, remarkable intelligence, and gentle temperament, causing these gallant Portuguese knights to be the preferred horses of kings over many centuries.

Their dramatic knightly appearance and energetic, smooth, and elevated gaits have also made them a Hollywood favorite: You are most likely to have seen Lusitanos parading their fairy tale flowing manes and tails on the big screen in The Lord of the Rings series, Braveheart, Gladiator, and The Mask of Zorro, to name just a few.

But the Lusitano, as ever-increasing fans in the United States are discovering to their equestrian delight, has a lot more going for it than its revered place in European history and its impressive appearance on the chess board and the big screen. First, there is its personality: kind and willing, noble and generous, calm, intelligent, sensible, and brave. Then there is their athleticism: muscular and agile athletes (see the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games, and most any major equestrian competition), they’re good at everything a horseman could desire, including dressage, endurance riding, general riding, jumping, mounted athletics, and cow work. As for looks, Lusitanos have large almond eyes, strong majestic necks, luxuriant silky manes, and abundant tails. They tend to be gray, bay, or chestnut (though they can be of any solid color, including buckskin) and stand about 15 hands high (but sometimes more than 16). Under the saddle, they are level-headed with a comfortable gait and incredible balance, making them ridiculously rideable.

In the United States, a growing number of Lusitano breeders — among them, Haras Dos Cavaleiros in Magnolia, Texas; Baroque Farms USA near Lexington, Kentucky; Sacred Springs Farm in Rappahannock County, Virginia; Cavalo Real Lusitanos at CR Ranches in eastern Oregon; as well as Montana Lusitanos at the Upright J Ranch in Choteau, Montana — and the creation in 2010 of the North American Lusitano Breeders Association are signs that the breed has surely, if slowly, begun to conquer the heart of America.

“Our passion for Lusitanos has grown over the years as we have learned and experienced more about this breed,” says Rafael Chávez Monzón, who co-owns Haras Dos Cavaleiros with Carmina Zamorano. “The first thing that caught my eye was their noble presence, but as years passed, I found that what I like most is that they are so trustworthy, they have heart and courage accompanied by boa cabeça, which in Portuguese means ‘good head/mind.’ These qualities even improve the older the horse gets. And the most amazing thing is that the peak of their beauty lasts for almost as long as they live.”

It was love at first ride for Amy Star, national show chair of the International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association, who had her first encounter with the breed in the ’90s. “I had been hired to train horses in Europe — training American stock horses that were imported. I was teaching Europeans to ride Western reining horses. My employer gave me a lesson with a Portuguese riding master on a Lusitano. It was an amazing epiphany to ride a Lusitano. People talk about the lightness of a Lusitano, but until you feel it, you have no idea. They are so light and brilliant. You breathe in and you think about going a direction and your horse is doing it — it just flows with your energy.” Star, who has been horseback since the age of three and now raises and trains Andalusians and Lusitanos for working equitation in Tucson, Arizona, still can’t get over the experience decades later. “I had been riding some of the best riding horses around; they were light and well-trained. But with the Lusitano, there was an athleticism, flexibility, and oneness with the rider that I had never felt before. I was hooked from that point on. When I came back to the States, that’s what I had to have.”

The qualities of the Lusitano that impress professional horsemen have been centuries in the making. The purebred Lusitano, or PSL for “Puro Sangue Lusitano” (its official Portuguese designation), has been ridden for more than 5,000 years. Considered the world’s oldest saddle horse, the breed originally evolved from the crossing of native Iberian horses with Barb horses introduced on the Iberian Peninsula during the Arab invasion in A.D. 711. 

Although closely related to the ancient Andalusian horses, Lusitanos are as far from the modern Andalusian Spanish horses as Portuguese port wine is from Spanish sherry. For just as port wine is richer, sweeter, and more spirited, so is the Lusitano. In spite of the fact that they share common ancestors, have a very similar appearance, and even went by the same common designation of Andalusian for millenia, Lusitanos underwent a thorough century-long “under the saddle” selection process, which allowed the breed, as with any good vintage port, to mature and improve, gaining not only in smoothness and complexity but also in value over the years, turning it into the “sport model” of the Andalusian. In 1967, when the Portuguese Stud Book (Livro Genealogico Portugues de Equinos) was officially introduced under the responsibility of the Portuguese Association of Lusitano Horse Breeders (Associação Portuguesa de Criadores do Cavalo Puro Sangue Lusitano), the Lusitano finally and officially parted from the Andalusian.

That “under the saddle” distinction? Oregon horse trainer and breeder Alexandra Dees knows it well. “I’ve had horses all my life — I come from a family of horse breeders and ranchers,” says Dees, who is the secretary of the NALBA and owner of Cavalo Real Lusitanos at CR Ranches in Harper, Oregon. “I stumbled on an exhibition in France of horses trained in dressage and was blown away by the horses they were using. When I discovered they were Lusitanos, I was determined I would get one.”

In 1997, when it was still hard to get Lusitanos in the United States, Dees was finally able to afford her dream horse and went to Portugal to find it. “If you really want to learn this breed, you must go to Portugal,” she says. “I could see the culture he came from — the highest representation of the breed and the horsemanship. It blew me away. For a horseman to go over there to see how they practice! ... What the California vaquero is trying to get back to is still alive and thriving in Portugal. The vaquero or modern reiner is trying to achieve a balance and performance that Lusitanos are born with and take very little to achieve. It’s already in the bridle; you just have to coax it out of them in the training. That balance — the self-carriage — is already there. It’s a natural collection; they carry themselves.”

But what about the all-important cowboy test? Dees can speak to that: Today she has about 45 head of Lusitanos working 200 mother cows. “I have a herd of Texas Longhorns and Black Angus. The Lusitanos travel very well through sagebrush and can cover lots of ground. And they’re smooth to ride. While they may not have the sprint speed of a quarter horse, they more than make up for it in agility and balance. They can change direction and get you there. You can really move them very fast without getting bogged down. For a ranch horse, that’s great. Lusitanos rope just as well as a quarter horse. They’ve become my only breed.”

And what do the cowboys themselves think? “I have cowboys that come and work on my ranch. They hadn’t heard of the breed. But now the cowboys all like them a lot,” Dees says. “Lusitanos are a little taller, so they have to step up on them a bit. I’ve sent some up to cow camp in Nevada — they love them. The Lusitano is naturally cow-savvy. They fit right in with the Western lifestyle. After all, they are the cow horse of Portugal.”

Unlike the cow horses of the West, Lusitanos (the name derives from the Roman word for Portugal, Lusitania) come by their bombproof nature partly through genetics and partly through generations of mounted bullfighting, a Portuguese spectacle sport in which it’s considered bad form if either the bull or horse is seriously hurt. Facing down bulls with a rider on its back increased the Lusitano’s natural bravery and boldness and also enhanced its remarkable balance and prowess at constant movement transitions. Bullfighting training also made the Lusitano brilliant under pressure, quickly excited, and easily calmed. Inherently patient, it became even more so under the constant demands of a rider whose mind the horse seems to have learned to read over time.

As for how they do in a relationship: Their faithful partnership qualities give Lusitanos an uncanny ability to develop a close empathic bond with their riders. It’s a characteristic that’s as legendary as the breed’s balance. What’s more, the Lusitano has a truly sweet nature that wins everyone over.

If the idea of a warm and affectionate faithful steed who can read its master’s mind and just wants to please has your heart inclining toward a Lusitano companion, you will be happy to know that, although still considered rare compared with other breeds, Lusitanos now hold about 5,000 breeding mares, 2,500 of which are in Portugal, 1,200 in Brazil, and close to 600 in France (the remaining 700 can be found in England, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Canada, and the United States). But be aware that such a companion might not come cheap. The price of a Lusitano can vary widely — typically from around $10,000 to $150,000 (or even twice that) — depending on training, accomplishments, temperament, bloodlines, conformation, color, and, perhaps most important, character. 

For Star and Dees, the challenge is to introduce more and more people to the Lusitano’s knightly character and many other charms. Once they get folks to meet them, the horses do the rest. “This breed is a very beautiful animal — it’s a beauty and elegance you really need to see. It’s not a typical horse,” Dees says. “I have an open-door policy, and I’ll drop what I’m doing to show anyone my horses. Anywhere I show up with one of my Lusitanos, people want to know about it. They have a look-at-me charisma and a very distinctive, proud bearing that draws people, especially horsemen.”  

“As a dyed-in-the-wool cowgirl — I work cattle, rope, pack, ride in the mountains, and compete in the show ring all with my Lusitanos — I have to say they are definitely my breed of choice,” Star adds. “There is no more loyal and trainable horse than the Lusitano. All we need is a Hollywood movie and suddenly they’ll be the hot new horse in America.”  

Lusitanos In Action: From Fort Worth, Texas, to Lisbon, Portugal, you can watch these spectacular horses perform.

The International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association National Championship Horse Show takes place October 15 – 19 in Fort Worth, Texas, at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center. The spectator-friendly show will feature daily competitions in halter and performance classes. On Friday and Saturday evening, plan on seeing some world-class equestrian theater and dancing horse classes, in which horses perform with music.

If you want to witness the Lusitano in its native Portugal, check out the amazing horses of The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art at the National Palace of Queluz, just outside of Lisbon. Founded to preserve the traditional Portuguese equestrian arts, the school uses Lusitano horses from the Alter Real Stud Farm, established in 1748 by King João V to supply the royal household and its riding school. Classical dressage exhibitions include a variety of movements, such as piaffe, passage, half-pass, extended trot, and pirouettes, but also the more spectacular “airs above the ground,” or school jumps, such as the capriole, the courbette, the mezair, the croupade, and the levade, which represent the highest level of High School (Haute École) classical dressage movements.

Performances take place every Wednesday and Saturday between May and October, and you can take a peek behind the scenes year-round to see how such excellence is achieved by attending a public training session on nonperformance days.

— E.N

MATCHMAKER - NICOLE GIGER  Written by Sarah Warne

Bridging the gap between the beautiful Portuguese Lusitano and the rest of the world, Nicole Giger is helping equestrian enthusiasts find their perfectly matched Lusitano in Portugal. "I hope to make the Lusitano more known throughout the world and to build up my vast network of cooperative partners in different countries," Nicole says. Describing herself as a well organised, honest person, Nicole has a professional background in marketing management and riding instruction and says she both "knows and loves horses". "Since my childhood I was fascinated by horses and they have become my life's passion.” I always wanted to be with horses, to ride them and to understand them. My first contact with our four-legged friends was as a kid when my mother would take me along to horse races." After her first internship with one of the greatest riding masters, Luis Valenca, in Portugal, Nicole's "passion for the Lusitano was set". Born in Switzerland, the Lusitano drew Nicole to Portugal more and more. "Portugal has some of the best Lusitanos, and the Lusitano has that high sensibility and reactivity of a pure-bred, combined with the beauty, obedience and courage of the Iberian horse. It is truly one of the best saddle horses in the world." Fascinated with the Portuguese breed of horse, Nicole wanted to spread the word on the Lusitano. She hoped to become the link between Portugal and the world and so she began helping horse-riders from other nations find a Lusitano from where the breed originated. Nicole says she loves to network internationally, and thrives on providing the means of enjoyment for horse people from all over. "I love to see when a rider finds the right horse, one which will make them happy for many years. When the rider feels, understands and loves his horse, that's when the horse will give all his effort in order to please him." As a result of the Lusitano's versatility, Nicole can find the horse for every taste and demand. "Riders often approach me knowing exactly what kind of horse they want to buy. But it often happens that they arrive in Portugal and change their mind completely once they see the diversity of horses here." Riders from all over world have been touched by the professionalism and passion they have witnessed through their contact with Nicole. One of Nicole's most rewarding comments from a client of Switzerland: "Nicole’s service was extremely valuable. She has contacts with the most reputable and well-known Lusitano breeders and studs in Portugal, but has no obligations with any of these whatsoever. Thanks to very good preliminary work, Nicole got me access to the type of horses I was looking for. But what was just as important for me was the contact after I bought the horse. She was present both at the pre-purchase examination of my horse and also when the horse was loaded onto the large transporter to my home in Switzerland. I received professional advice and support in every respect. During our stays in Portugal, she took the time needed to find the right horse. From my experience, I can recommend Nicole’s service without any reservations, and would not hesitate to use it again myself.” Although there is no typical client, Nicole says that it is her job to match every rider, no matter how individual or unique, to the right horse. "The riders benefit as I can provide them with a vast network of contacts in the Portuguese equestrian world, presenting pre-selected horses which fit with their needs. I put them in direct contact with Portuguese breeders and sellers. The Portuguese equestrian world benefits too as I bring international clientel to Portugal, helping to share the Lusitano's brilliance with the world."   To contact Nicole please email:

The versatility and brilliance of the Lusitano- written by Sarah Warne


In an event designed to showcase the versatility of the Lusitano, last weekends presentation in Club D. Carlos in Cascais, Portugal, was, according to event organizers Société Suisse de Lisbonne, "a huge success".

“We aimed to show the public that the Lusitano is more than a dressage horse, being able to perform in different disciplines as a pleasure horse or as a sport horse, able to win world championships and succeed in Olympic Games,” , says association member and event founder Nicole Giger.


“The event was a premier, a beginning. We hope to develop the idea and add other elements to a future program. For example, displaying the Lusitano as a carriage horse.”

The weekend’s equestrian display was attended by horse lovers from all over, including Portugal, Switzerland and Germany, who were fascinated by the multi-talented breed.

The biggest association of Swiss citizens and friends of Switzerland in Portugal, Société Suisse de Lisbonne, hosted this unique event and attempted to not only explain the Lusitanos 5000 year riding history (making it the oldest saddle horse), but also prove the breed’s growing popularity and excellence.

The  following program was perfectly commented by well-known breeder and trainer Joao Pedro Rodrigues, whose expert knowledge of the breed helped the spectators to truly grasp the growing superiority of the Lusitano.

1) Introduction: The breed of the Lusitano:

all about the history, morphology, functionality, and the specific characteristics of the breed and its use. Two different Lusitanos of different ages are shown in hand.

2) The Lusitano in Dressage: Joana Serra Lopes, 6 year trainee and cooperation partner of Pedro Torres, shows the Lusitano “Regente” in Prix St. George-Level dressage.

3) The Lusitano in Jumping: Young rider Teresa Barbosa rides the Lusitano “Ultime Tentation” over the obstacles.

4) The Lusitano in the Working Equitation: Joanna Serra Lopes shows the Lusitano “Ulisses” in the Maneability, one of the Working Equitation disciplines.

Nicole hopes the event would help raise the profile of the breed and says that, having received very positive feedback from spectators, the idea of the event has a future and can attract more public.

“I want to increase awareness of the Lusitano as a beautiful, gentle and versatile horse, to open up the market for this breed internationally, and to spread the word about this fantastic animal.

More riders, with the help of the Lusitano, shall find out how light and joyful horseriding can be.”

It was this passion and belief in the Lusitano that pushed Nicole Giger to founder the event.

For more than twenty years rider and trainer Nicole has been working with Lusitanos in Switzerland and Portugal and has built up a network of contacts in the Portuguese equestrian community.

Her aim is to increase the Lusitano profile and through her work provide a link, bringing Portuguese Lusitanos to other countries.


Exquis World Dressage Masters Studies Brazilian Leg for 2011

Just days before the start of the first leg of the 2010 Exquis World Dressage Masters (WDM) in Palm Beach, the WDM organization announced Monday the signing of a letter of intent to consider staging an event in Brazil in 2011.

Camil Smeulders, managing director of WDM, announced the signing of the letter of intent with the company Haras Vale da Raposa operated by world renowned Brazilian architect Bennett Nisencwajg and his son, Heitor.

WDM said it viewed the discussions as a major step in internationalizing dressage as the key for a sustainable future for the Olympic sport.

Brazil is considered one of the leading economies of the future and has been selected by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The city was host of the 2007 Pan American Games, which includes the three Olympic disciplines of dressage, jumping and eventing.
South America would be the third continent to be part of the prestigious WDM circuit, the richest lineup of dressage events in the world.

Bennett Nisencwajg is famous for creating exclusive residences in South America and on the East Coast of the United States, including a resort on Brazil's central coast which includes a Lusitano stud.

WDM 5-star events have been held in Palm Beach, Florida; Munich, Germany; Cannes, France and Hickstead, England, each with prize money of €100,000 (US$138,000) plus a Rider Bonus of €25,000 (US$34,600) sponsored by Nürnberger Versicherungsgruppe.

The 2010 WDM circuit kicks off at Palm Beach this week with Steffen Peters, Anky van Grunsven and Isabell Werth competing together for the first time since the 2009 World Cup in Las Vegas was won by the American.

Haras Vale da Raposa and WDM management will conduct a feasibility study in the coming months to determine whether a WDM event could be viable and, if so, select a city to host it.

"It's an honor for us and for our country that WDM considers to stage a leg of its prestigious 5-star circuit in Brazil," Bennett and Heitor Nisencwajg of Haras Vale da Raposa said in a statement. "We are very confident that Brazil is capable of hosting an event like this and expect a positive outcome."

Anthony Kies, Chief Executive Officer of WDM, said: "WDM wants to grow gradually. We have to keep pace with our commercial leverage and will have to convince sport authorities, riders, owners and sponsors that this is a unique opportunity. At the same time, we are confident that Brazil has the potential to become one of the hosting countries of WDM."

About WDM

The Exquis World Dressage Masters (WDM) was launched in 2009 as an initiative of equestrian innovator Exquis, international sports marketing agency, SportBizz, and Equestrian Sport Productions of the United States. WDM's objective is to grow the sport of dressage by staging world class events with substantial prize money and marketing expertise.

WDM is sponsored by Exquis, Moorland Stables and Moorland Investments, and Nürnberger Versicherungsgruppe with Jerich International as the official Logistics Provider.

March 15, 2010

Lusitano Horse Auction in Florida Reports Record Sales

MIAMI, FL (March 11, 2010) -- A four-year-old newly-trained Interagro Lusitano stallion brought a record price of US$145,000.00 recently at The 2010 Lusitano Collection ™ International Horse Auction held at The Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.  With a record attendance of 250 people, the third consecutive U.S. auction attracted a prestigious crowd of notable trainers, breeders, professional riders and amateur practitioners from various regions of the United States and Canada. This select group of horse connoisseurs and aficionados of the equestrian disciplines did not hesitate to make their preferences known for the Brazilian imports at the higher end of the price spectrum with record setting sales prices this year.  Seventy percent of the lots were sold at or above their reserve prices, resulting in an average price of US$41,700.00 per animal sold.

The successful results achieved by The Lusitano Collection ™ go beyond the simple commercial aspect of the sales. More importantly, this auction served to advance the introduction of the Lusitano breed one step further in North America, not only by increasing the number of owners, but also, very specifically, by attracting an ever growing group of demanding and savvy horse persons who know how to distinguish and evaluate the quality and potential of the horses they buy. “There is a tremendous benefit of buying horses from a big breeder who has completed the importation process for you,” reported Helene Asmis, a trainer from New Mexico who was named IALHA Horsewoman of the Year in 2001 and bought two horses at the auction.

It also served to give a valuable reading of the equestrian market's wishes for future events. As a pioneering promoter of the Lusitano breed, The Lusitano Collection™ has striven to bring a diversified group of horses to the U.S. auction in order to accommodate various equestrian disciplines and riding levels; however, with the experience gathered from past events, The Lusitano Collection™ will now focus on a more exact range of options better designed and catered to the selective and educated equestrian buyers who will attend the U.S. annual auction scheduled to take place in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2011.

Brazilian Dressage Riders on their way to World Equestian Games in 2010


The Brazilian riders didn’t lose their faith and strength after what happened to their first ever Olympic team in Hong Kong. When Nilo didn’t pass the vet check, the team was over and two individual competitors was the only thing which had left. All Brazilian riders and owners continued kept their dream alive by extending their dream to compete with a Brazilian team in Lexington at the WEG 2010. Now they were rewarded. Last September 11 two more Brazilian dressage riders got their first of two technical qualifying scores for the World Equestrian Games 2010 in Kentucky.

The inspiring winner of the Grand Prix in São Paulo at CDI3* in Sociedade Hípica Paulista, the third of five WEG qualifying competions in Brazil in 2009, was Rogério da Silva Clementino riding the Lusitano stallion Portugal.

Rogério and Portugal scored 68,11% rewarded by Ghislain Fouarge from Holland, and 66,596%, rewarded by Eric Lette from Sweden.

At the first two qualfying Grand Prix´s, Rogério already qualified his Lusitano Nilo VO. Two scores over 64% due to an Olympic judge qualify riders and their horses for the WEG.

Riding the Lusitano Riopelé, Thaissa Tavares de Almeida also registered her first qualifying score of 65,106%, and the third place at Grand Prix.

Her sister and youngest Olympic competitor in equestrian sports Luiza Tavares de Almeida riding her Lusitano Samba, already technically qualified for the WEG, was second at Grand Prix, also with two more scores over 64%.

Besides Luiza Tavares de Almeida/Samba and Rogério Clementino/Nilo VO, Renata Costa Rabello/Ludewig G is the third Brazilian rider already technically qualified for the WEG. Concidently all the three riders took part in the bronze medal team at the Pan Games 2007 in Rio de Janeiro.

Results and Qualification table for WEG 2010:

1º - 64,410%
CDI3* at Winter Equestrian Festival - Florida, USA – January, 28
2º - 64,043% (Stephen Clarke) / 65,532% (Mariette Withages)
CDI3* - CHSA – São Paulo – Brazil, May, 22
3° - 65,319% (Eric Lette)
CDI3* - SHP – São Paulo – Brazil, September, 11

1º - 65,745% (Stephen Clarke)
CDI3* - CHSA – São Paulo – May, 22
2º - 65,319% (Gotthilf Riexinger)
CDI3* - CHSA – São Paulo – Brazil - June, 19

1º - 65,106 (Gotthilf Riexinger)
CDI3* - CHSA – São Paulo – Brazil - June, 19

1º - 64,225% (Bernard Maurel)
Grand Prix B 3* - St. Tropez – France – June, 18
2º - 64,25% (Jan Peeters)
CDI3* - Prix Recyma – Strassen – Luxemburg – July, 24

1º - 68,511% (Ghislain Fouarge) and 66,596% (Eric Lette)
CDI3* - SHP – São Paulo – Brazil – September, 11

1º - 65,106% (Eric Lette)
CDI3* - SHP – São Paulo – Brazil – September, 1

Brazil - Tour May 2009

The trip to Brazil was an excellent experience.  I met some wonderful people and made some very good friends.  Even though it was a marathon, we started off at at Lusitano Auction for the first couple of days.  We then started our tour of breeding farms.  I was interesting to see the different types of Lusitano that are bred for all types of sport.  Their breeding program has and will advance for the dressage type of Lusitano in the future.


Preview Coudelaria Ilha Verde’s 11th International Luso-Brasileiro Auction lots on-lineSão Paulo, Brazil – Modern technology provides a unique armchair opportunity to preview all the horses scheduled to go under the hammer at Coudelaria Ilha Verde’s 11th International Luso-Brasileiro Auction on Saturday, May 10th, 2008. The following URL will open the first page of the 2008 auction catalogue, which provides photographs, video clips and links to the ABPSL (Associação Brasileira de Criadores do Cavalo Puro Sangue Lusitano/Brazilian Association for Pure-bred Lusitanos) website with full genealogical reports for every horse. you are unable to attend the auction, telephone bidding will be available via friendly bi-lingual personnel, and further information, reservations, pre-registrations, and DVDs are available upon request via the Coudelaria Ilha Verde again, the 11th International Luso-Brasileiro Auction has gathered together a spectacular collection of Lusitanos from superior bloodlines and titled competition stock. Some are already competing and demonstrating excellent potential for high level dressage, while others are multi-talented and waiting for the right partner to steer their versatility in other directions. • Violino: Among the auction lots being offered, one of the stars is undoubtedly Violino, from whom covering services will be auctioned to 20 lucky mare owners who offer winning bids. Violino is a son of legendary and multi-titled Veiga sire, Ofensor – considered to be one of the foundation stallions of the modern Lusitano breed, who was Champion of Champions at the Golegã International Horse Fair in 1999. Perhaps more importantly, Ofensor’s offspring have also won many championship titles and continue to perpetuate the glory of their sire’s extraordinary bloodline.Violino himself has never been beaten in competition, winning various age-group championships and now also producing offspring that are claiming coveted victories. • Xis VO: Ribatejo, Traquina, Zique, Vaqueija, Visqueiro, Quieto and Nieta are just some of the bloodlines that make Xis VO the Brazilian stallion with the highest percentage of Veiga blood offered at this auction. A dark bay son of Navalha, and a brother of Sol VO, Xis is a handsome six-year-old with great potential as both a competitor and a sire.• Zatar VO: A five-year-old son of Sol VO and, therefore, a nephew of Xis, Zatar is a beautiful stallion out of Pimenta do Top who is already showing an aptitude for high-level dressage. Standing at 1m60/15.3hh and with an amazingly docile temperament, Zatar is competition ready and in the right hands has championship potential.• Zeus VO: A beautiful son of Donaire, Zeus is highly typical of the Baroque Lusitano type, packaged inside a stunning buckskin coat that is so sought-after and appreciated. Already showing an aptitude for “haute ecole,” Zeus was inscribed in morphology at the 27th International Pure-bred Lusitano Horse Festival. • Amuleto VO: A showstopper with his dark palomino coat and flowing silver mane, Amuleto stunningly combines male elegance, presence and docility, and could well be a highlight of the 11th International Luso-Brasileiro Auction.Turning to a beautiful collection of mares that includes …• Africa VO: A highlight among the females offered at this auction, Africa VO illustrates Coudelaria Ilha Verde’s vision of the modern Lusitano. With a proven track record and gold medals to her name, she continues to make distinctive progress and will make an eye-catching partner for a competitive rider.• Aurora VO: A delightfully versatile mare who has already won championship gold medals and is in-foal to Quadro do Top. An excellent breeding prospect.Or a complete package …• Zangada VO: An extremely rare opportunity to acquire a mare with such noble bloodlines: twice Traquina and twice Visqueiro in her pedigree. Her reproductive qualities are proven by the beautiful colt that accompanies her: Distinto VO – a son of Quadro do Top. Zangada is also in foal to the same stallion, so this lot offers a remarkable three-in-one package for a breeding beginner.Veterinary reports and x-rays, as well as piroplasmosis-negative certification are available for all the above-mentioned horses.These Lusitano profiles offer a brief insight into some 30 lots that will be offered during the 11th International Luso-Brasileiro Auction that is scheduled to take place at Coudelaria Ilha verde on Saturday, May 10th, 2008. If you would like to attend the auction as well as the Internation Lusitano Festival, places are still available on a 12-day group tour, arriving in São Paulo on Thursday, May 8th, during which the first two days will be spent at Couldelaria Ilha Verde, where you will have the opportunity to ride, interact with Lusitanos, and participate in other equestrian activities, graciously hosted by Victor Oliva. For further information about this trip, please e-mail: jean@jeanllewellyn.comFor further information about Coudelaria Ilha Verde and the 11th International Luso-Brasileiro Auction, please go to:

In the face of adversity, Lusitanos contribute to a dressage medal for Brazil at the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro

By Jean Llewellyn
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The XV Pan American Games kicked off with the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro last Friday, July 13, 2007 and the first equestrian medals have already been awarded for dressage with the home team, Brazil, celebrating a well-deserved bronze. It was the first time in Pan American history that two pure-bred Lusitanos have appeared on the Brazilian team.

Ironically, for anyone who is superstitious, it could be said that Friday the 13th was an unlucky omen for the Brazilian team, who lost one horse and one rider from their first-choice line-up due to sickness. First, the handsome Brazilian-bred Lusitano stallion Nirvana Interagro (by Gatão out of Capicua) bred by Paulo Gavião Gonzaga, succumbed to illness two weeks ago and was unable to recover sufficient health and fitness to compete, much to the disappointment of his rider Pia Aragão. Then, a double blow for Chef d’Equipe Sabine Bilton when Jorge de Costa had to be sidelined, his place being taken by second reserve, Luiza Almeida Tavares – only 15 years old – riding the Portuguese-bred Lusitano stallion Samba (by Inca).

In the face of such adversity the Brazilian team’s podium position was a remarkable accomplishment even though their hopes for greater glory were likely impacted by their pre-competition losses. Quite simply, the team achieved what many considered to be impossible – especially as it was the first taste of international competition for Luiza Almeida Tavares and Roger Clementino, both riding Lusitanos!

Under the watchful eye of judges Jane Weatherwax (USA), Stephen Clarke (Great Britain), Marian Cunningham (Peru), Mariette Withages (Belgium) and Salin Nigri (Brazil), the medal-deciding class took place over the weekend in the Deodoro Stadium of the National Equestrian Centre, some 25 minutes from downtown Rio.
Naturally, as Pan American Games hosts, Brazilian expectations and emotions were running high for their dressage team, and at the end of the first day, Roger Clementino, riding the 13-year old Lusitano gelding Nilo VO on behalf of Victor Oliva’s Coudelaria Ilha Verde stud farm had put Brazil in third place out of seven competing nations with a score of 64.750 percent.

On day two, following a score of 65.400 percent from Renata Costa riding the KWPN Monty, only Luiza Almeida Tavares remained, and her score of 64.650 percent with Samba guaranteed Brazil’s team bronze medal. Wise beyond her tender years, and very aware of rewriting history for Lusitano breeding, Tavares said: “I confess that when I entered the ring I was nervous. But I took a deep breath and did what I had to do. The public also helped,” by remaining so quiet you could hear a pin drop during this final performance of the team competition. It’s the first time in 24 years that Brazil has won a Pan American medal for dressage, the last also being bronze in Caracas, Venezuela in 1983.

This result has certainly provided a wake-up call for the Brazilian equestrian industry that is witnessing an explosion of interest in dressage, undoubtedly thanks to their home-bred population of world-class Lusitanos that are being selectively produced for the specific purpose of challenging the authority of warmbloods on the international dressage stage.

Another Brazilian-bred Lusitano should also be mentioned, the stallion Oceano do TOP (by Afiancado de Flandes, bred by ‘Tonico’ Pereira) who was competing with Sandra Smith under the flag of Argentina. Although he had a slightly disappointing performance, placing 24th with a percentage of 56.600, slightly lower than his pre-Pan-Am results, only a few marks separated him from a top ten finish.

Brazil’s well-deserved result now opens the door to the possibility of their dressage team competing at next summer’s Beijing Olympic Games – with the equestrian events taking place in Hong Kong. Roger Clementino said, “We arrived here and gave everything. Now we need to keep working hard in search of a medal in China.”

As a global shop window for promoting sport horses, it would be a marvellous achievement to see every member of the national team in the saddles of Brazilian-bred Lusitanos and would certainly validate the many years of commitment and passion of Lusitano breeders to producing the finest dressage horses.

2007 Portuguese Dressage Championships

Miguel Ralão Duarte, 2007 Portuguese Dressage Champion

October 17, 2007

Grand Prix rider Miguel Ralão Duarte became the 2007 senior champion at the 20007 Portuguese Dressage Championships held in Lisbon, on October 12-14, 2007. The championship was organized by the Sociedade Hípica Portuguesa (SHP), a club decorated by the Portuguese State and founded 97 years ago. The SHP has throughout its history been committed to equestrianism, namely showjumping and dressage. The Portuguese Dressage Championship Finals took place at the SHP show grounds, located in the Campo Grande district of Lisbon. The club is the preferred location for the best and most important equestrian competitions that take place in our country. The Nationals were attended by a large crowds of spectators as well as Portugal's top riders.

In the Grand Prix division, Portuguese anchor team rider Miguel Ralão Duarte won all three phases of the championship. Aboard his Lusitano mare Oxalis de Meia Lua, he scored an overall of 209.16 points and won the gold medal. Miguel Magalhães and Free Dancer claimed silver on 198.83 points, while the bronze was for team rider Pedro Torres on Riopele (195.54).

Four riders participated in the young riders class and Portuguese team anchor Maria Moura Caetano (pictured) was good for gold. With her former PSI auction horse White Cesar, a 12-year old Hanoverian gelding by Woodstock x Acapulco, she scored solid mid sixty percentage scores and totalled 199.94. João Manuel da Costa Silva and Critos earned the silver with 197.27, while Maria Paes do Amaral and Wonderman achieved bronze (190.48).

Seven juniors battled for the national title and it was Joaquim Pontes on Deustche who earned the gold with 195.90 in total. Rodrigo Galiza mendes and Ne Opus landed in second position with a total of 193.75. Francisco da Costa Silva and Gismo were third with 189.45

FEI Young Horse Classes, Easy Prey for the Portuguese

The Portuguese might have shown a glimpse of their rising potential at Grand Prix level, but the FEI Young Horse classes were an easy prey for them. Portuguese Jeanette Jenny and Miguel Ralao Duarte wielded the axe of power in the 5 and 6-year old FEI Young Horse tests and were undefeated the entire weekend.

In the 5-year old class, Miguel Ralao Duarte saddled the sympathetic Lusitano stallion Talisco (by Xaquiro out of Noz), who is owned by Pedro Ferraz de Costa. The gray stallion could have shown more opening of the frame in the extensions, but overall he reflected an image of harmony and fluency.

Judge Christoph Hess was full of praise for this combination. "This is how we want to see young horses go in these classes," said Hess. "The rider has a wonderful position in the saddle, with very good hands. Talisco may not be the best horse in the competition, but he was the best ridden horse today."

Talisco showed a lovely rhythm in the trot and was always in front of the rider. His walk had good overtrack and the canter had a clear 3-beat rhythm. "This horse is 100% trained in the right way," Hess concluded. Talisco and Duarte won the 5-year old YH Finals with 73.00 points. Daniel Zapatero and Farrallon (by Campeon IX out of Grata II) ranked second, followed by Jose Carlos Castillo Munoz on the Westfalian RMS Arundensis.

The competition in the 6-year old Young Horse class was of a higher level with more world class youngsters surfacing at the top of the ranking. Winner of the 6-year olds was Spartacus, a bay Lusitano stallion (by Xaquiro out of Juno) owned by Luis Pidwell. Portuguese Jeanette Jenny pushed Spartacus to brilliance showing a superbly suspended trot and the horse swung in all three basic gaits.

"This is a dream of a horse," Hess commented. "He has three truly good gaits with the right cadence and a very uphill canter." Jenny had some problems with the flying changes and the half pass to the left was not as supple as the one to the right, but overall Spartacus is such a talented horse that we would like to see him back at the 2005 World Young Horse Championships in Verden this summer. Jenny scored 82.20 points.

Placing second in the 6-year old finals was Miguel Ralao Duarte on the delightful bay Lusitano mare Sigonha (by Esquivo out of Doris). Again, Duarte presented his horse with absolute harmony and relaxation. The mare was smooth and fluent in all three basic gaits. "A real happy horse," Hess said, "that's the way they should be schooled." Especially the half passes were a highlight in the test. Sigonha scored 75.20.

Nuria Vila Perez and the KWPN gelding Silvius (by Mondriaan out of Juliabante) ranked third. The impressive bay stallion is very bold horse with good potential to swing in the trot. His walk showed decent overtrack, but the walk pirouette and especially the flying changes were the problems in Perez' test, which forced the score down to 73.60 points.

Worth mentioning is number four on the score board, Sinphonie, a gray KWPN gelding by Krack C. Spanish Lucas Elias rushed Sinphonie through the trot tour causing the horse to lose his rhythm, balance and self carriage, but in canter this Dutch warmblood was breath taking.

"It must be a dream to ride this horse in canter," Hess confessed. Sinphonie is so uphill and so ground covering that his canter work reminds you of Florencio's.

At the end of the young horse classes, Mariette Withages wanted to stress the fact that the relaxed, light and harmonious way the Portuguese winning riders Jenny and Duarte have presented their youngsters is an example for all other European riders. "They should all ride like this. That's what we want to see in young horse test," Withages said