The Lusitano

The Lusitano

Lusitano of today to the horses present in Iberia over 5,000 years ago. The equestrian culture of Ancient Iberia was famous even in Greek and Roman times and that tradition remains unbroken over the years to the present. The Lusitano is the product of the outstanding horse breeding skills of the Portuguese people who have historically focused on creating a riding horse to match their own renowned equestrian skills in war, sport, and the bullring.

Juego del Duende Andalusian S/P
Juego del Duende Andalusian S/P – Stefanie Travers

Organized horse breeding in Portugal has been practiced for centuries, both at the private farm level and at the level of the Royal Stud. Many of the old families of Portugal have been involved in the development and preservation of the Lusitano horse and were a primary source for the horses used to establish the first official Lusitano Studbook in 1942. In 1967, administration of the Lusitano Studbook was given to a private group of breeders, the Portuguese Association of Purebred Lusitano Horse Breeders (APSL).

The APSL has refined and improved the Lusitano Studbook over the years through the application of modern breeding principles and modifications of studbook regulations as they are needed to advance the interests of the Lusitano worldwide.

The Lusitano horse we see today is a blend of the ancient horse lines of Portugal with selective use of the PRE (Spanish Purebred) horse and a small number of other hot-blooded breeds (TB and Arab). This careful breeding was done with the intention of creating a horse with the rideability, temperament, and style that the Lusitano is famous for and the Portuguese passionately adore.

Currently, registration in the APSL Lusitano studbook is limited to those horses whose Purebred Lusitano parents are approved for breeding and are listed as such in the APSL studbook.  Lusitanos registered in the APSL studbook are sometimes referred to as PSL or ‘Pura Sangue Lusitano’.

For further information, the following books are available in English:

Lusitano Champions: Historic Memory 1966-2003 by Pedro Ferra da Costa, published by Idições Inapa, 2005.

Lusitano Horse: The Son of the Wind by Arsénio Raposo Cordiero. published by Edições Inapa, S.A., 1997. ISBN: 972.8387-20-2

Lusitano Breed Standard

  • 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.