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The Three Main Lines of the Lusitano

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Tags: Lusitano Horse, Origin

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Even though the Lusitano has been bred in its native Portugal for centuries, it wasn't until the end of the 20th century that it earned its own studbook and stepped out of the shadow of its cousin, the Andalusian. In fact, the breed was nearly lost at the beginning of the 20th century due to several factors, and was only revived thanks to several dedicated breeders that didn't want to see the Lusitano become extinct. It is thanks to these breeders that the Lusitano still exists today. All of the Lusitanos can trace their lineage back six foundation horses in three distinct Lusitano Lineages. Here we'll take a look at the dramatic comeback of the Lusitano and the three main lines of the breed.

The Lusitano became an important part of Portugal's history thanks to King Joao V, who established a stud at Alter Real in 1749. Many of the horses produced at this stud went on to train at the Royal Academy, and then to serve the royal family as riding horses, carriage horses, hunting mounts or the traditional pastime of bullfighting. But over the years, the traditional Baroque Dressage taught at the Royal Academy fell out of favor and equestrian schools across Europe closed. By the beginning of the 20th century, the breed had nearly disappeared thanks to horses being stolen from studs by invaders or breeding experiments that threatened to render the breed extinct.

As the monarchy was ousted at the beginning of the 20th century and the studs were closed by the government, it is largely thanks to eminent breeder and enthusiast Dr. Ruy de Andrade, who purchased several horses at auction in the hopes of revitalizing the breed. By the time he approached the Ministry of Agriculture in 1942 he had a stud started that became the foundations of the present day Lusitano breed. Another line was saved by breeder Manuel Veiga and yet another line was preserved by a combination of the Coudelaria Nacional and the famous stud of Alter Real.

Today, all purebred Lusitanos can be said to be from one of these three major lines. While they have subtle differences in conformation, they all fit within the basic conformation standard of the breed. The Andrades, named after the breeder, are taller saddle horses with a nearly straight profile and a rounded croup. Andrades himself described his horses as short strong horses with good walk, sensible to the spurs, submissive with a good mouth, endless strength in everything.
These horses are said to be excellent all-around horses, suitable to traditional bullfighting, dressage and work.

The Veiga bloodline, named for its breeder, is said to be the truest present day descendant of the ancient war horse of old Lusitania. They are smaller than the other lines and are said to be very good for bullfighting. They have a convex head that is called the Veiga head, proud and flexible necks and impressive impulsion.

The third type, typically called the Coudelaria Nacional line, are of the same type as those horses that came from the Alter Real in the 18th century. These are the horses that are trained at the present day Portuguese School of Equestrian Art and are particularly strong in dressage and driving, thanks to their longer, stronger bodies and higher croups.

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The Three Main Lines of the Lusitano
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