Lusitano horses will star at Royal Welsh Show

20 June 2013

A horseman from the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art mounted on a Lusitano, one of the most agile and versatile equine breeds.  They will appear at the Royal Welsh Show in July.

Classical horsemanship and the skills and style of riding practiced in bullfighting from horseback will be among the exciting main ring attractions at next month’s Royal Welsh Show.

Riders from the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art mounted on Lusitano horses, one of the world’s most beautiful and versatile equine breeds, will perform twice daily over the four days of the show at Llanelwedd, Builth Wells, from July 22-25.

Because of their rare characteristics Lusitano horses are popular as mounts for dressage and ideal for all forms of equestrian art.  They are also in demand for jumping, eventing, driving and leisure riding.

Originally bred as war horses and for bullfighting from horseback, they are still used in the bull ring today, though for bullfighting of the non-lethal kind where neither horse nor bull is harmed.  In Portugal it is now illegal to kill a bull in the arena.

Visitors to the show will see the Lusitanos as they were in the 18th century, the same riding styles, saddles with short stirrups, and costumes worn by the riders displaying the agility and the floating elevated movement of the horses.

The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art was founded to uphold the teaching, practice and promotion of this traditional form of Portuguese culture.  It uses horses exclusively from the Alter Real Stud Farm which was established in 1748 by the Portuguese royal family to provide horses for the country’s national riding school and for royal use.

In the early 20th century, as Portugal renounced its monarchy, the Alter Real strain faced extinction.  Records were destroyed, stallions gelded and the stud discontinued.  However, a specialist in Iberian horse breeds saved two stallions and several mares and was able to re-establish the strain, turning the herd over to the Portuguese Ministry of Agriculture in 1942 when the stud was reopened.  The Portuguese state has maintained ownership of the stud ever since.