Lusitanos and Andalusians both come from the Iberian Peninsula. Originally there was no distinction between the two Iberian races – both were used for bullfighting. Even today, the spirited and courageous horse is suitable for the now controversial bullfight, because of its high capacity for gathering predestines the Lusitano for the quick turns in the arena. These skills also make him a fascinating dressage and leisure horse for the discerning rider.

Origin and History

The Lusitano got its name from the term the Romans used to designate the area of ​​what is now Portugal: Lusitania. Closely related to the Andalusian, the Lusitano is a typical Iberian breed: a courageous fighter, well suited for bullfighting and at the same time with a high willingness to gather and talent for classical dressage and high school. The breeding of the Lusitanos is more original than that of the Spanish relatives: The horses often have concave nose lines, somewhat coarser heads, and more lively movements than the Andalusians. Sometimes they are reminiscent of the Sorraia horses, from which they, like the Spanish horses, are descended. Sorraias are among the oldest horses in the world, which can be seen on cave drawings from 22,000 BC. Chr. Could see. In the 17th century, the breeding of the Lusitanos and the Andalusians separated. The breeding of the Lusitanos continued to focus primarily on bullfights. It was not until 1966 that the separation was officially carried out and a breeding register for Lusitanos was established. For over 300 years, Portuguese horse breeding has presented itself once a year, usually in the second week of November, in Golegã. At the “Feira de São Martinho,” there are demonstrations with hundreds of Lusitanos in addition to the traditional horse market.
A specialty among the Lusitanos is the Altér Real. A breeding line that was bred in the former “Real de Altér” farm stud and which is sometimes referred to as a separate breed. The Altér Real are mostly brown and were intended for the Portuguese Riding School. To this day, the traditional art of riding is cultivated in the “Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre”.


Lusitanos are sensitive and spirited horses that need an experienced rider. They join this closely and are then wonderful, docile partners. Her dressage talent due to her ability to gather together is often fascinating and her courage is also a lot of fun for recreational riders in the field. In the right hands, a Lusitano is a real dream horse.


Lusitanos are short and compact horses with an average size of 155-165 cm. There are many molds, but all other colors are also possible, including palominos and duns. The heads of the Lusitanos are dry, sometimes slightly concave, the eyes are large and friendly, the neck is strong, with good freedom from gaiters and the chest is broad. The Portuguese horses have a strong back and a well-muscled, round croup. The movements are associated with higher forehand action and good hank flexion. Nevertheless, the Lusitano usually has a good sense of space.

Suitability / Use

The Lusitano is a perfect leisure horse: agile, strong nerves, and strong character. Even today, the breeding goal of the Portuguese is mounted bullfighting, which needs brave and fast horses. The talent for gathering, which is also required for bullfighting, also helps the Lusitano with the high dressage tasks and at the same time makes him a specialist in the discipline of working equitation. The Working Equitation has developed from the working style of the cattle herders, to which the “Doma Vaquera” belongs. Working equitation includes dressage tasks, a trail, and a speed trail where the skill course is ridden as quickly as possible. Another part is the cattle work, which is similar to the Penning team of western riding.
Regardless of whether the Lusitano is to be a Working Equitation competition horse or a purely recreational horse, he always needs a rider who can cope with his sensitivity and intelligence.


Lusitanos need a lot of exercises and a species-appropriate attitude, just like any other horse. Since it comes from a rather barren environment, it sometimes does not get along well with food that is too high in energy and is then prone to skin problems. But actually, the Lusitano is robust and uncomplicated.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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