I recently returned from a dream trip to Portugal. I have long adored the Andalusian and the Lusitano horses (both Iberian horses). It is more common to see Andalusians in the U.S. so I have more familiarity with them. This was my chance to learn more about the Lusitano and to photograph the best Lusitanos in the world. Portugal made me deeply wish to be young so I could buy a and enjoy a Lusitano. I love Paso Finos (have had them for 36 years) but never have I been SO impressed with a breed of horses. I photographed mares, babies and lots of Stallions. In Portugal, they do not ride mares and there are very few geldings. I was told that only about 1% of the stallions are gelded. Everyone rides Stallions. AMAZING - all the Stallions are calm, brave, athletic and have such good minds! Even very young children are riding stallions around the parade grounds, side by side with other stallions! I have not seen anything like it anywhere else!
In the next series of Blogs, I will focus on some of the places and the Lusitanos - The Portuguese School of Equestrian Arts, the amazing Lusitano show at Golega, the carriage horse competitors and my starting Blog will be about bull fighting horses and the number one female bull fighter - Ana Batista and her gorgeous horses. The Lusitano is still bred for bull fighting which demands a brave, athletic horse with incredible "cow sense". This is why the Lusitano horse is a premier athlete and such an outstanding equine partner.
Some people do not like the idea of bull fighting. I did not attend a live bull fight - I watched the training of horses for bull fighting and no they don't start with live bulls. For the record, in Portugal bull fighting is done by a horse and rider, not a Matador on the ground. The bull is not killed in the ring. He has 5 years of living in a pasture and then a single fight. Compared to rodeo bulls, he has a very good life. Compared to steers (hamburger in 18 months), he has a very nice life.
The really important thing about the bull fighting Lusitano is the breeding of brave, sensible athletes that have the ability to do ANYTHING other horses can do and excel at every job - jumping, Dressage, Carriage, ranch work or just as a companion horse. The Portuguese do a tremendous job of training their horses but so do other people in other disciplines. I have never seen so many stallions who are such gentleman! Actually, I never saw a badly behaved Lusitano stallion - not in a stall, not at a show - beautifully behaved stallions! It is bred into them and then developed with training.
Of all the Lusitano horses I saw, the most unusual horses were a 3year old and a 5 year old stallion at Ana Batista's ranch. Unusual because I have never seen horses of any breed the color of these two. Rose gold, Chestnut manes and tails and leaf green eyes! I have never seen a horse with green eyes, never saw a Palomino or Cremello body color with chestnut manes and tails. Remarkable. So I will start with pictures of these two young stallions!