The Mangalarga Marchador is a gaited sport horse breed of Brazil, with attractive looks, soft temperament, and a rich historical background. Also the National Horse of Brazil, the Mangalarga Marchador is a highly sought after breed by cattlemen, endurance riders, sportsmen as well as pleasure riders.
One of the most distinct features of this breed of horses is its gaits, which are basically of two types, including the marcha batida and the marcha picada. Both of these gaits are comfortable and ground covering, along with being rhythmic and cadenced. In addition, both of these gaits are four beat gaits and provide moments of triple hoof support.
The Mangalarga Marchadors have an immensely attractive appearance with an average height of over 15 hands and weighing 900 to 1100 pounds. Most of the horses of this breed are in the family of gray, bay, and chestnut colors.
History and Development
The development of the Mangalarga Marchador breed of horses dates back to the 1800s when the entire process started. In 1807, when Napoleon invaded Portugal, Junqueira family, the royal family fled to the Portuguese colony of Brazil, Sao Paulo. When they left, they also took along the Andalusians, their best horses, from the Royal Alter Stud Farm.
Further on, one of the young stallions, Sublime, came into the custody of the Baron of Aldenas, who was the owner of Campo Alegre, a Brazilian breeding farm. Thereon, the young stallion was bred to local gaited mares which were basically of the Spanish Jennet and Barb blood, which further produced offsprings with a smooth rhythmic gait, gentle temperament, good stamina, and a typically regal bearing that adapts to all types of climates, feed and terrains. It was these group of horses that were originally known as the Mangalarga Marchador breed.
These horses were also genetically improved in the Royal Breeding Farms of Brazil under King Joao VI and Emperors Pedro I and Pedro II. All of the horses, each of them being descendants of the lberian-imported stock, were selectively bred in Brazil for a period of over 180 years.
History has it that each of the farms produced a heritage and bloodline that basically identified their horses. Hence, the horse's name always includes the breeding farm. Since Mangalarga was one of the first farms during which the horses gained popularity, this breed came to be known as the Mangalarga Marchador breed.
Interestingly, most of the breeding farms maintained impeccably written records of their breeding programs. Therefore, the history of many of the present day Marchadors can be traced back to as many as 20 generations or even more.
As the Mangalarga Marchador breed became more popular and sought after, its first breed association was established as the Associacio Brasileira dos Criadores do Cavalo Mangalarga Marchador.
The breed continues to be developed and improved until today by an increasing number of farms and breeders in Brazil itself. Many of the newer farms have begun to incorporate combinations of several bloodlines to produce the future members of the breed.