The Lusitano, an Iberian Saddlebred, is one of the world’s most ancient breeds and its ancestors have been ridden for around 5000 years.
The name originated from the Latin “Lusitania” for Portugal on the Iberian Peninsula. Until the 1960’s the Iberian Saddlehorse was known as the Andalusian in both Spain and Portugal. Then Spain and Portugal separated their Stud Books and Portugal adopted the name Lusitano.
The Sorraia, the primitive ancestor, is still found in Portugal as a result of the breeding preservation program instituted by Dr Ruy d’Andrade last century. The Sorraia bears the strong dominant genes of subconvex profile, high stepping action, and close-coupled compact and rounded outline of the Lusitano today.
This classical outline with short back and long legs gives the Lusitano a definite ability to collect. An important advantage not only in high level dressage but in every other discipline that requires such gymnastic dexterity. Lusitanos are extremely intelligent and courageous, very sensitive to the aids. Their naturally sweet and willing temperament means they form a close rapport with their riders and “their” people.
In Portugal the breed is used in every equestrian activity, from dressage and working equitation to hunting, mounted bullfighting and farm work.
A high percentage of Lusitanos are grey although approximately one quarter are bay. The Alter Real Stud only breeds bays. Other acceptable colours range from black to various shades of dun, pewter, isabel and palomino.
For a foal to be registered in the APSL Stud Book both parents must be registered. As it is a closed studbook no outside blood is allowed. Without registration papers from the APSL or from the Brazilian Association which is affiliated with the APSL, no horse can be recognised internationally as a Purebred Lusitano.
Outside Portugal and Brazil, Lusitanos are bred in many countries. Great Britain,the U.S.A, France, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Italy, South Africa and Australia. They are also extensively crossed with other breeds, particularly with the Spanish horse, and other hotbloods such as Arabs and Thoroughbreds.