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Characteristics of the Lusitano

A typical Lusitano has a short, strong but flexible back with a round croup and low-set tail, deep rib cage and broad powerful loins, strong hocks, high arched somewhat heavy neck on a strong shoulder, and sub-convex profile to an otherwise fairly long, refined and noble head with large, expressive eyes, and thick, luxuriant and long mane and tail, the forelock often extending to the nostrils. They have fine, clean legs with excellent, dense bone and flint-hard hooves.

They are bold, arrogant and exquisitely agile, naturally balanced over the hindquarters, feisty but kind and sensible, eminently trainable, sensitive and super-intelligent, and with excellent cow sense.

Lusitanos can reach 17hh, although most of them stand between 15hh and 16hh. Unlike Andalusians, whose accepted colors are grey, bay and black only, Lusitanos may be any solid colour, including dun, buckskin and palomino, although the traditionally preferred colors are grey and bay.

In contrast to Arabians, Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods, who were bred primarily for speed over distance in a relatively straight line, the Lusitano was bred for maneuverability and agility in a small area. As a result, many Lusitanos lack the huge suspended trot of the warmblood, however they more than make up for this with their innate ability to collect and perform airs above the ground, in their ability to stop softly or change direction in a heartbeat, and in their built-in shock absorbers which give a wonderful, smooth ride that is effortless to sit. They are also exquisitely responsive to the aids. They are sure-footed and reliable on the trail. They are capable of cutting cattle with the best, or jumping a Grand Prix course with ease. They are also the ultimate exhibition horse: Spanish Trot, Spanish Walk, Passage, Piaffe, airs above the ground, even the maneuvers of the bullfight, are all movements that they offer naturally and spontaneously at play or while showing off. They can thrill you with their aerial acrobatics one minute, and be snuggling gently with you the next.

With a U.S./Canadian population of perhaps 150 registered Lusitanos, and a worldwide population of fewer than 3,000 breeding mares, these horses are fairly rare.


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Last updated July 8, 1999

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