A history of Beauty, Strength, and Courage
The Lusitano has a proud History. According to the APSL, a Lusitano has been present in every battle recorded by history as we know it. A 780,000-year horse skull was found in Portugal and in several other places within the Iberian Peninsula bones, drawings, and tools were found. This points to the fact that in 20,000 BC a relationship between man and horse was already established. Many things have changed since then. The fact remains that man and horse grew and developed together through time and evolution.
The Lusitano is a very gentle and intelligent animal. Its strength and flexibility have earned him a reputation that is hard to surmount. When the Roman armies first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula, they realized that these horses were the best they had ever seen. Fast to move, easy to turn and sprint away. Yet, they were also docile and easy to handle. But the characteristic that amazed them and attracted them the most was the trust and love that the Lusitano showed for his master in battle. Many, many times they watched in awe as these beautiful animals jumped into battle without doubt or hesitation with a simple prod from their riders.
The Iberian horse
The Iberian horse, as they were called back them, was a large, strong animal with beautifully streamed lines that could go on for hours without rest. Their stamina and will never seize to amaze those watching or riding them. And then the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula came and the two most beautiful horses in the world met for the first time. The sleek, powerful and fast Barb brought from the deserts and the large, strong and intelligent Iberian who was at home. It was the invading Berbers who first thought about combining these magnificent animals to improve both breeds, and so they did.
Through careful, controlled breeding they managed to take the best out of each breed and pass it on the other one. The Barb gained some of the Iberian’s calm, decided personality with a touch of size and stamina while the Iberian lost a bit of size but gained the beautiful lines the Barb had to give. It was a small contribution by man to the perfection and beauty created by God and Nature but it was well worth the effort. From there on the Iberian was used as breeding stock to improve many of the now existing horse breeds. In fact, if you have the time and the will, it is possible for you to find some Iberian in almost every breed known today including Thoroughbreds, Lipizzaner, and many others.
Spanish and Portuguese
In 1967 the Spanish and Portuguese Iberian breeders finally were able to separate their stud books. The name Lusitano emerged and become known all over the world. The name comes from the Lusitania, which was the name the Romans gave to the territory we know as Portugal. The Spanish kept calling their horses Andalusians and the Portuguese called theirs Lusitano. They are not the same. Many years earlier King Philip V of Spain banned bullfighting so the Spanish horse breeders started to breed their horses for show and riding. On the other hand, bullfighting is still a great sport in Portugal so they continued breeding their horses for courage, speed and agility. Today they are completely different although similar in looks and size. The big difference lies in the fact that the Andalusian has lost popularity while the popularity of the Lusitano is rising.