The Lusitano

This page is about the Lusitano breed and some of it's history. I'm no expert. This page is my opinion and things I have picked up in my search, of understanding the Lusitano breed.

I have lots to learn, but someday I hope to be breeding and riding, puro sangue Lusitano horses.


In the early part of this century, the original Iberian horse was divided in the two horse breed, now known as the Spanish: Pura Raza Española/P.R.E. (Andalusian ) and the Portuguese: Puro Sangue Lusitano. Lusitano means Portuguese in old-Latin, the old name for Portugal was and still is: Lusitania.
The Iberian horse is the oldest saddle horse in the world. They have been ridden in over 5000 years and used as war horses. But you can read about the history of the Lusitano, several places on the web, I'm no expert so I recommend you to read about them, here: LINKS!


I want to tell about my own knowledge of the Lusitano, what I think, like and know. I was introduced to the "Luso" in 1996 after being introduced to the breed, through the web. I came in contact with the president of the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA), Dr. William (Bill) Killingsworth. He told me, that the best way to know more about the breed, was to see them in real life, in Portugal - and so I did!
I went to The Festival International do Puro-Sangue Lusitano, Lisbon 96' and it was a very overwhelming experience. I have never seen horses move like that and I had never seen stallions so calm, but still showing off. I WAS IN LOVE!
I took many pictures and I observed and learn all that Bill had to tell me about the breeders, different breeding aims, the brands and the most important, what kind of Lusitano I preferred for my self.

My favorite was the d'Andrade brand, that is one of the biggest and oldest breeding lines in Portugal Dr. Ruy d'Andrade started with his brand,  then several of his family members have become breeders as well with their own brands. The d'Andrade line has a calm and very soft temperament, they look more refined and often with a straight profile and a powerful neck line. they are mostly used for artistic, competitive dressage and traditional Portuguese Equition.

After seeing lusitano foals, fillies, colts, mares and stunning stallions, all other horse breeds, just didn't look right. Suddenly I hated the typical Danish Warm blood type, with it's long neck and back. I just think now that the way the Iberian horse is built, is the correct way. It's logical for balance and power in the movements. 

From the APSL - Associacäo Portuguesa de Criadores do Cavalo Puro Sangue Lusitano, here are the standard measurements and requirements for the Puro Sangue Lusitano: 

1. TYPE: Middleweight (weight around 500 Kgs.) "Medium lined"; sub convex profile throughout the body (with rounded outlines the silhouette of which can be fitted into a square).
2. HEIGHT: Medium, to be measured at the withers with a measuring stick at the age of 6 years. Average Height Females 1.55 m (nearest 15.1 h.h.); Males - 1.60 m (15.3 h.h.).
3. COAT: The most appreciated and esteemed are all shades of grey and bay.
 4. TEMPERAMENT: Noble, generous and ardent, but always gentle and able to support duress.
5. MOVEMENTS: Agile, elevated forward, smooth and having a great facility to carry the rider in con fort.
 6. APTITUDE: A natural ability for concentration, with a great disposition for High School work and courage and enthusiasm for the gineta exercises (combat, hunting, bullfighting, work with cattle, etc.).
7. 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 the forehead in advance of the bones of the eyebrows: the eyes beneath tend to be elliptical in shape (almond shaped), big and alive, expressive and confident. The ears are of the medium length, fine, narrow and expressive.
 8. NECK: Of medium length, arched with a narrow hairline: the junction between head and neck is narrow or fine: the neck is deep in the base and well inserted between the shoulders, rising up from the withers without any convexity.
9. WITHERS: Well defined and long, with a smooth transition from the back to the neck. Always higher than the croup.
10. CHEST: Of medium size, deep and muscular.
11. RIBCAGE: Well developed, long and deep with the ribs obliquely arched into the join with the spinal column which promotes a short and full flank.
12. SHOULDERS: Long, slanting and well muscled.
13. BACK: Well defined and tending towards the horizontal making a smooth union between the withers and loins.
14. LOINS: Short, wide, muscular, slightly convex, well connected with the back and croup with which they form a continuous harmonious line.
15. CROUP: Strong and rounded, well balanced, slightly slanting, the length and width should be of identical proportions, the profile convex and harmonious with the point of hip relatively unobtrusive, giving the croup a transverse section of elliptical shape. The tail emerges from the same line as the croup, being of long, silky and abundant hair.
16. LEGS: The forelegs are well muscled, and harmoniously inclined.
The upper arm straight and muscular.
The cannons slightly and muscular.
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 defined 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 and tends to be a short, and it orientated in such a way that the patella or gas kin is in the same vertical line as the hip bone, or point of the hip.
The legs is slightly long from hock which puts the point of the hock in the same vertical line as the point of the buttock.
The hocks are large, strong and dry.
The back legs present a picture of relatively closed angles.





















Dansk Engelsk Portugisisk
Hoved og hals Head & Neck Cabeça e pescoço
Skulder og manke Shoulder & Withers Espádua e garrote
Bringe og brystkasse Chest & Ribcage Peitoral e costado
Ryg og lænd Back & Loins Dorso e rim
Kryds Croup Garupa
ben Legs Membros
Sammensætning/helhed Set of forms Conjunto de formas
Bevægelser og gang Movements & Gaits Andamentos

The colors are  59% grey, 25% bay, 5% black,  3% chestnut and 4% other colors like: isabela, palomino, albino and white.
(Relative frequency of the pelagens registadas in stud-book of the Lusitano, for a total of 13883 animals).

Read more in danish - here!

Todays Lusitano is bred for competitions and pleasing confirmation. The explanation to the question of why no one has heard that much about the Luso, can be the small number of breeding Lusitanos. Portugal has the largest number of Luso stud farms, then Brazil, France, Belgium, Germany and USA. In Denmark where I live, we only have about 3 maybe 4 Lusitanos (I know of).

The breeders of Lusitano horses, have always bred for performance, the different line of horses, where bred for different purposes. Some where bred for the bullfighting  arena, others for the Portuguese classical dressage and so on.
The bullfighting horse, have to be fast and on its toes, brave and not necessarily very tall. Smaller horses can react much faster.
The dressage horses, have to have a gentle temperament, easy to control and love for showing himself.
You must remember that when I write about the riding horse, it's stallions I mean. Previous times and at present it is always the stallions who are ridden in competitions and in the bullfighting arena. The stallions are almost never gelded. Mares were only used as broodmares, "just" enjoying life in the pasture.
But this is starting to change.
I'm quite sure that the mares who also have the great temperament and body of the male Luso, will be marvelous for dressage and pleasure riding horses, given the opportunity. In France, for example, many people find that they make excellent pleasure horses.

Your contact ind Denmark

Eva Ørndrup
Stensbyvej 3
DK.2740 Skovlunde
Sms: +45 21 80 02 82