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The origins of the Lusitano dates clear back to 25,000 BC; an archeological find in Spain and Portugal have proven this. It was in the form of its primitive ancestor, the Sorraia breed. Aside from cave paintings, there have been further discoveries of tools made from bone that were used to make rope from horsehair. The Sorraia is believed to have evolved from the crossbreeding of native Iberian Proto Draft Horses and ancient strains of Oriental/North African horses. Until the 1960s, the Lusitano horse shared its registration with the Andalusian, the Spanish native horse. The Lusitano's common usage was in war, dressage, and bull fighting.
Like the Lipizzan horses, the Lusitano horses begin to turn a more solid color when they age, they come in a variety of colors but most of the time they turn white as they get older. They gain their name from Lusitanian; it's the name the Romans gave to the part of the Iberian Peninsula that roughly connects part of modern day Portugal and modern day Spain.
When the Lusitano and the Andalusian shared a studbook, they were separated because Portugal breeders were looking to strengthen the horse and to show the horse had many special qualities.
Famous Portuguese families have been breeding the horses for many years; two particularly famous families are the Andrade and Viega. Although in Portugal these horses have their own separate stud book, in the United States they are still sharing one with the Andalusians in the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA).
As mentioned before, the Lusitano is used in the bullring; this takes place in Portugal and unlike bullfighting in other countries, the bulls are fought from horse back and they are not killed in the ring. They are challenged from both the horse and bull fighter. Aside from being trained in bullfighting, they are also trained in the art of Haute Ecole which is performed during the ceremonious bull fights. Only the finest of the Lusitano horse breed can take part in the bullfights, this is because they must have the skill and agility to avoid the horns of the bull.
The early Lusitano horses were particularly noted by the Romans for their quick starts and stops as well as their ability to retreat and come back with a new attack. This type of riding was made possible by the greatly agile horses, curb bits, and stirrups.
Through many invasions of the Carthaginians and the Romans, the Lusitano horse became quickly recognized as a horse of strength. Because of the successful performance of this horse during the conquest of the Iberian regions, stud farms were being set up for the production of cavalry horses. This was to further the expansion of the Roman Empire.
The Lusitano horse has what is referred to as a subconvex profile or Roman nose; it's a trait that has is genetically transferred and gives the horse the skill and ability to be a mounted single combat horse. It is known as the art of "La Gineta".
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