Tempus Renatus Farm

Tempus Renatus Horses: Lusitanos

 

Orfeo
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About the Lusitano

Taken from Interagro Lusitanos Website

History

The attached is a résumé of a long history that unfolds itself over a period of more than four thousand years. Knowing it will avoid the repetition of many past mistakes. There is nothing to innovate on a several thousand-year-old race, but a lot to preserve. The race alone by itself, if properly bred will take care of its own evolution.

Cavalry's introduction as a war weapon in the Iberic Peninsula - which is modern-day Spain and Portugal or Iberia - dates back to the second millennium BC - much older than all that was recorded by historians of the rest of the Ancient World on this subject. There is no evidence of the use of mounted horses in Antiquity, the iconography of Egypt and Babylon showing only chariots and carts.

The domesticated horse existed in Iberia even before the Neolithic period. Archeological findings, such as the tomb of ancient warriors in the South of the Peninsula, prove that cavalry battles happened during the Bronze Age and that infantrymen carried halberds - a weapon used to dismount the enemy in open combat.

In the invasion of Spain during II BC the Carthaginians suffered heavy losses inflicted by the Iberian Cavalry. Hannibal's father, Hamilcar, died in this campaign. When the former departed from Spain to invade Italy he took with him some 12,000 horses. The description of the Punic Wars by Strabo is full of references to the eximious Lusitanian riders, who could easily climb escarpments where no other mounted armies would dare to try. Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, took Iberian horses with him from Spain to Carthage. Polybius and Livy, both tell us how the Iberian Horses were terrible opponents for the Roman Legions during the wars that lasted for more than 200 years. "…the Romans never excelled in the use of their cavalry always surpassed by the Iberians," explains Dr Jose Monteiro in his book O Cavalo Lusitano: "The combat tactics and riding style of the Peninsula (gineta) were learned and adopted by the Romans and a Lusitanian named Caius Apuleius Diocles became very famous as a horseman in the III century AD being honored with a statue in the Fields of Mars in Rome."

According to Dr. Ruy d'Andrade, a writer and the 'father' of the Andrade lineage, the equestrian statues of Balbo, Caligula - mounted on Incitatus - and later Marcus Aurelius - who was born in Spain - are clear evidence of the widespread use of Iberian horses by the Romans. The Barbarians who invaded Iberia in 409 AD did not suppress the Roman civilization they found in place and horse breeding continued as before. Isidore wrote in the "Laudes Hispanie" that the Iberian Horses were the best in the world. During the long period of Moorish domination lasting from 711 to 1492 AD, foreign blood was introduced with the horses brought in from North Africa. However, because the Berber and the Iberian are very closely related, this wave of foreign blood was easily absorbed without impact upon the indigenous homogenous racial type of the Peninsula. We know by the numerous testimonies of that period that the Iberian horse fascinated the invaders who were a horse loving people like the Iberians. It is also clear that not only did the breeding of the Iberian Horse continue to prosper but more than that, many excellent animals were then exported to Africa and the Middle East.

The Middle Ages was also a period of prestige for the Iberian Horse and they were used during the Crusades by many famous warriors such as Richard the Lionheart (1119 AD). During the XVII and XVIII centuries it was necessary to breed a stronger bigger horse, capable of carrying man in armor. From 1700 onwards with the improvement of the roads in Europe came the rapid development of carriages and carts as a preferred way of transportation.

The differentiation between the Lusitano and the Spanish horses began in the XVII century as explained by Jose Tello Barradas. "Among the many factors that caused the differences that exist today between the Lusitanian and the Andalusian races, I believe that the most important one was the introduction and absolute preponderance of the bullfighting on foot in Spain at the beginning of the XVIII century…" In the XIX century the development of Postal Services, the improvement of the roads and finally the railroads brought the relative decline of the saddle horse. The process was accelerated in the XX century, particularly during World War I (1914/18) with the increased use of the automobile and the disastrous introduction of Arabian and Thoroughbred bloods in the military services and breeding programs. "The Iberian Horses, even in the Peninsula itself, were the victims of these fashion trends from which only a handful of traditional and wise breeders escaped unscathed," wrote Dr. Ruy d'Andrade.

The long several thousand year history of the Iberian Horse shows that this powerful race survived all these accidents and trends. No matter how extensive or how bad the incursions of other bloods or fashions, there is today, everywhere, a renewed interest and strong demand for these fabulous animals resulting in a steep increase in their market value.

The Veiga Line

The Veiga bloodline produced the most genuine war horse of Ancient Lusitania. 'Veigas' are extremely functional and smaller than the other lineages - excellent for bullfighting. They have the typical convex head known as the "Veiga head", flat thin legs with prominent hocks, fantastic impulsion and proud flexible necks. Manuel Veiga describes his horses as follows: "Nervous, full of gallantry, so obedient they seem to outguess the rider's intentions; high thin head, long free-flowing manes, elevated movements and a striking agility challenging all threats and dangers with indomitable courage…" The Veiga is a true race within the Lusitano breed and the stallions when used on mares of any other lineage have the power to transmit to the offspring the most typical characteristics of the Lusitanian race.

Official Breed Standard

The Lusitano horse has inspired powerful descriptions - "a horse for a King in days of victory", "a horse that combines beauty and harmony with a generous and docile temperament and easy, comfortable and brilliant gaits." A more clinical definition would be the official breed standard for the Lusitano as printed in the Stud Book published by the Associação Portuguesa de Criadores do Cavalo Puro Sangue Lusitano (APSL or the Portuguese Lusitano Breeders Association when translated).

Type

Middleweight (weight around 500 kgs.) "Medium lined"; sub-convex profile (with rounded outlines); a silhouette that can be fitted into a square).

Height

Medium; at the age of six years, the average height, measured at the withers is 1.55m (nearest conversion 15.1hh) for females and 1.60m (15.3hh) for males.

Coat

The most appreciated and esteemed are all shades of grey and bay.

Temperament

Noble, generous and ardent, but always gentle and able to support duress.

Movements

Agile, elevated forward, smooth and having a great facility to carry the rider in comfort. Aptitude A natural ability for concentration, with a great disposition for High School work; courage and enthusiasm for the gineta exercises (combat, hunting, bullfighting, work with cattle etc.).

Head

Well proportioned, of medium length, narrow and dry, with the lower jaw not too pronounced and the cheek inclined to be long. Slightly sub-convex profile with slightly curved forehead (in advance of the eyebrows' bones); the eyes, tending to an elliptical form, are big, alive, expressive and confident. Fine, narrow and expressive ears of medium length.

Neck

Of medium length, with fine hair line, deep in the base, well inserted between the shoulders, rising up arched from the withers without convexity, ending at a narrow and fine junction with the head.

Withers

Long and well defined, with a smooth transition from the back to the neck, always higher than the croup. On adult stallions is sometimes covered with fat but always prominent from the shoulders.

Chest

Of medium size, deep and muscular.

Ribcage

Well developed, long and deep, slightly arched ribs obliquely inserted into the spinal column giving rise to short and full flank.

Shoulders

Long, slanting and well muscled.

Back

Well placed, tending towards the horizontal and making a smooth connection between the withers and the loins.

Loins

Short, wide, slightly convex, well connected with the back and croup with which they form a continuous line.

Croup

Strong and rounded, well-balanced, slightly slanting. The length and width of identical dimensions; harmonious convex profile with the point of the hip unobtrusive, giving the croup a cross section of elliptical shape. Tail with long, silky and abundant hair gently emerging from the convex line of the croup's profile.

Legs

The forelegs are well muscled and harmoniously inclined. Upper arm straight and muscular. Knees are thick and dry. The cannons tend to be long, dry and with well-pronounced tendons. The fetlocks are dry, relatively big and with very little hair. The pasterns are relatively long and sloping. The hooves are of good constitution, well formed and proportioned without being too open; the line of the coronet is not very evident. The buttock is short and convex. The thigh is muscular, normally short and oriented in such a way that the patella gaskin is in the same vertical line as the hip-bone, or point of the hip. The legs are normally long, placing the point of the hock in a vertical line with the point of the buttock. The hocks are large, strong and dry. The hind legs form relatively closed angles.