There are several opinions regarding the origins of
the Iberian horse. Some sources claim the influence of the Arab, others hotly
dispute that. Many note the similarities between the Iberian and the Barb. However, all sources agree that the Iberian bloodlines are ancient. By the time of the early Roman Empire the Iberian was already widely favoured; its supremacy on the battle
field being documented in the classical writings of Homer, Xenophon, Virgil and
the 16th century the Spanish Empire was at its height. As the Spanish expanded their empire they took with them
the Iberian Horse. Perhaps most significantly the horse was introduced into the Americas and the West Indies under the
command of several Conquistadors.
The Dressage Horse
Early in the 16th century military riding academies began to be established. These academies taught the equitation and exercises which would be required on the
battlefield. In a short time, these exercise evolved into the precise controlled
movements of haute ecole and in doing so became an art form. The Iberian horse
became the horse of Kings and equestrian skill became the embodiment of power and virility.
Iberian the Andalusian and the Lusitano
Until the 1960’s the Spanish and the Portuguese
horses, collectively known as Iberian, shared the same stud book. However, many
bloodlines were jealously guarded and all can be traced back centuries.
The Modern Lusitano
In Portugal the breeding was heavily influenced by
the mounted bullfight. This required a brave but sensitive horse with a high
degree of intelligence, exceptional agility and with independence and submission in equal measure. It is these characteristics which identify the Lusitano today; characteristics that while born out of centuries
old functionality, can contribute so much to the modern competition world.
In dressage, there are many Lusitanos
compteting at the highest level both abroad and in England. Most notably,
the pure bred stallion, Guizo was an important part of the Spanish national team for many years winning medals at national,
European and World Championships.
Although not a match for thoroughbred
speed, as a part bred, the Lusitano is now competing successfully in both showjumping and eventing. Pippa Funnell’s ride The Tourmaline Rose is 25%
Lusitano being sired by grade A showjumping stallion Crown Cornelion who is by Michael Whittaker's pure bred Lusitano showjumping
Champion Novilhiero. Novilhiero, a very influential stallion, was produced from
two of the oldest Lusitiano blood lines being out of a Veiga mare and by an Andrade stallion.