Portuguese School of Equestrian Art
The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art was founded to uphold the teaching, practice and promotion of traditional Portuguese equestrian art.
It revives the tradition of the Picaria Real, the equestrian academy of the Portuguese Court based at the Royal Riding School in Belém, which is now the ‘National Coach Museum.’
Because the practice of bullfighting on horseback has continued uninterrupted until the present day, the type of horse ridden in the eighteenth century is still used today, as are the same riding styles, saddles and costumes. The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art has also reintroduced exercises from the baroque riding style, such as the “airs above the ground.”
The school uses Lusitano horses from the Alter Real Stud Farm, established in 1748 by King João V to supply the Royal household and its riding school with horses.
The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art performs regularly for the public and holds special displays both in Portugal and abroad, carrying out an important role in promoting the Lusitano horse and Portuguese culture.
The school is based in the gardens of the National Palace of Queluz.
The Lusitano Horse
The south of the Iberian Peninsula is the birthplace of an equine breed whose origins date back to prehistory. Rock paintings found in the region prove that this is where the world’s first saddle horse appeared. This breed is still in existence and is known in Portugal as the Lusitano.
The Iberian cavalry practiced a thousand-year-old method of riding known as à gineta, notable for the use of very short stirrups, among other things, which provide the rider with greater mobility and efficiency during combat.
The remarkable Portuguese tradition, illustrated by numerous writers of treaties and celebrated horsemen, experienced a great boost in the eighteenth century when, under the influence of Queen Maria Ana of Austria and the future prince José I, King João V established the Alter Real Stud Farm in 1748. This stud farm, which still exists in the same location, was revitalised in 1942, using the last remaining animals to revive the breeding of Lusitano horses of the “Alter Real” lineage.
The Lusitano is popular as a mount for sports and leisure, and as a breeding animal because of its rare character traits and genetic antiquity. Furthermore, it continues to be the ideal horse for equestrian art and bullfighting. Far more than being just a great pleasure to ride, this horse will always surprise with its versatility and its natural aptitude for show jumping, dressage, working equitation and combined driving.