The horses of Portugal
By Jose Manuel Ribeiro
They look like the last aristocrats.
They are treated with the most respect and tenderness.
They have the best diets and food.
They have fancy shampoo baths before showing up.
They have the best shoemakers.
They have healthcare 24/7.
They dress the way their forefathers did in the 18th century.
They have gentlemen’s hairdressers.
They are all males living at the Royal Palace of Queluz, 20 kms (12 miles) north of Lisbon, the same palace that received past Kings, Queens and Presidents during their state visits to Portugal.
They have care takers and horsemen all around, proud to be a part of the Equestrian Art Portuguese School.
They are the Lusitano horses, descended from the family of Iberian wild horses that were tamed by the stud farm of Alter do Chao in southern Portugal in the 18th century. The Royal Equestrian School closed in the 19th century but due to the Portuguese tradition of bullfighting on horseback the art, the skills and culture survive until today.
The Lusitano horse has been developed as a horse for bullfights, academics and training making them some of the most desired in the world. Portugal, the ancestral home for Lusitano horses has now been surpassed by Brazil with their fast-growing horse farms.
Twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays the horses appear on the baroque gardens of the Queluz palace. With epoch music playing along for fourteen minutes viewers feel like they are being transported to the past.