Portuguese Equitation

For many years, Portugal has provided a source of inspiration for thinking riders.  Great trainers like the late Maestro Nuno Oliveira attracted afficionados from all over the globe.  It was here that Sylvia herself began her love affair with the Lusitano horse and the art of Classical Riding.  This led to her founding The Lusitano Breed Society of Great Britain in l984 as well as being the first, with her late husband Lord Loch, to bring a large consignment of Lusitanos to the UK in the late l970s.  Today there are over 2,000 Lusitano purebreds in this country and many top riders and trainers use them as the "perfect schoolmaster".

HL4C4086[1]You can read many articles on the Lusitano in our Iberian Library - available to all CRC Friends under our Libraries section.  There are many different subjects such as The Iberian Back, The Mind of the Iberian Horse, Lusitanos and Rollkur and Two Great Years all in the same section.  This Library is a must for those who own either a Lusitano, Spanish, Lipizzaner, Friesian or other Baroque breed.  Also, do look out for Sylvia's award winning The Royal Horse of Europe on Amazon. This was first published by J. A. Allen of London in l986 with further editions right up until 2012 when it sadly became out of print. This lavishly illustrated and referenced book was the first in English to give the full history of the Spanish and Portuguese horse.  In addition there is a large section on breeding in the Peninsula today, as well as tracing the Iberian's connection to today's horses - e.g. the various Warmbloods, the English Thoroughbred, the Mustang and several British native breeds. The section on America explains how horses arrived in the New World.

It should be recognised that Portuguese equitation has always been closely linked with that of the French School of Versailles. It was the 18th C Grand Master, Sieur Francois de La Gueriniere who influenced the work of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna. Later, those same principles were adopted by all the great cavalry schools of Europe and were replicated in the FEI Dressage Rules. Lightness and suppleness are amongst its most important tenets, and the Classical Riding Club promotes these ideals on its website as well as in its Guidelines for the judging of dressage tests.

CRC has always encouraged its Members and friends to visit the great studs for the Lusitano Horse in the horse breeding areas of the Alentejo and Ribatejo. A visit to Queluz Palace is a must where visitors can see the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art at work. The historic and annual Feira de Golega is another attraction for those who want to savour the colour, tradition and magic of Portugal's equestrian past and present and many of our CRC members are based in Portugal or have strong ties with the Iberian Peninsula as a whole.

In 2009, D.Filipe Gracioso, Director of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, conferred an Instructorship on Sylvia under the National Equestrian Federation at Lisbon.  In 2013 she was presented with the Order of Merit by the Portuguese Government for her contribution to equestrianism worldwide.


Straight from the horse's mouth, we have been offered some beautifully choreographed films on  the different Breeders of the Lusitano horse.  Sympathetically filmed, this (approx) 30 minute video illustrates how and where the great studs are based, their background and traditions, who selects the different blood-lines, how the horses are trained and a glimpse of the breeders' and riders' aspirations for the future.  The interviewer is Bruno Caseirao - historian and writer - and an old friend of Sylvia Loch and whilst the interviews are conducted in Portuguese, all are sub-titled in English.  These videos will be posted up for the perusal of Classical Riding Club Members, as and when each becomes available.   They are delightful and educational to watch and now, for the first time - here on line - we see behind the scenes at Herdade das Equilas owned by Paulo Caetano and his family in the Ribatejo region of Portugal.

Further films will be on the Coudelaria de Santa Margarida, the Veiga Stud, and Casa Cadaval.   What an illustrious line up!


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