Riding in Portuguese style – “à portuguesa”

The traditional Portuguese Riding Costume – a must have for every Lusitano horse lover .
Hello. My name is Sílvia and I’m a fashion designer. I’m Portuguese and live on the beautiful island of Terceira in the Azores. I am a horse rider and have been for more than 30 years.
A few years ago, I decided to start my own business, designing and handmaking exclusive costumes dedicated to horseriders. Since I love Working Equitation, I started with the feminine traditional Portuguese Riding Costume with which I was already familiar. Through my research I found out many interesting details about this particular costume and this made me want to develop it and embrace the challenge of bringing it up to date. I decided to revisit and redesign it, respecting its history and purpose while taking a contemporary approach that has a fashionable look and that values the elegance of the horse rider (with an emphasis on the feminine figure).
Along this path I’ve been given the opportunity and privilege of meeting and working with other horse riders, with diverse personal requirements for their presentations from Dressage to Natural Equitation Horsemanship.
Regarding the traditional Portuguese Riding Costume, I’ve been asked questions such as: “Should the skirt be like this?” or, “Is the vest a mandatory piece in this outfit?”.
So, why do we wear this costume and what’s the correct way of wearing it? And how should we style it?
I have seen many variations of oppinion on this subject, and definitely there are some “dos” and “don’ts”.
I love what I do and since there is so little online information about this subject I decided to start this blog to share my work and my experience. I would also like to to hear from you, your questions, comments or sugestions. I hope this can be useful.
Thanks for taking the time to read through, and “see” you soon!
Silvia T.
Text revised by Peter Cann
Images by Hugo Silvia Photography

Thinking of having your own costume made check out Silvia´s work at the  online shop. You can also discuss with us what you are looking for in shape, style, colours and finishings. Costumes are made to order with your unique measurement taken into account for a perfect fit. SILVIA T.ATELIER

 

 

 

Party Piaffe – Celebrating in Portugal

Party Piaffe –

Birthday Celebrations with the Ultimate Equestrian style

On a starlight velvet night, we fall silent as through the gates charge proud stallions ridden by elegant riders fire torches in their right hands. It is quite a sight as they spill into the arena forming a cantering circle in front of us, you can feel the heat from the torches and the heavy beat of the mu- sic pulsates through our bodies, people shiver with anticipation – the working equitation fire show begins. A thrilling display made even more so by the closeness and knowledge it was just for us.

It’s part of the entertainment at Danish Business man Niels Zibrandtsens 60th birthday party. He is a man that knows how to have fun and celebrate in style, his weekend party was no exception action packed and largely featured equine entertainment combined with Portuguese Culture.

So what prompted a businessman to celebrate his 60th in another country enjoying their culture and traditions?

We are increasingly seeing horses become more and more part of our lifestyle. It’s not a new phenomenon certainly looking back through the centuries the horse has played vital roles supporting us in our day to day requirements. Not only providing our transport, farm help, even our partners on the battle field but as a major part in our ceremonies. In modern times, with so much available to us the status they claimed had been a little lost they became our friends in sport and leisure riding and less in our events. 

Now all has turned full circle once again horses are everywhere. In advertising, marketing, fashion shoots, dramatic artwork on our walls and seen almost as a stylish lifestyle ‘must have’ in some form or another. Certainly in our business we are receiving many requests for combined events and weddings in which equines play an important part of the day.

Niels’s is the chairman of Global Connect which he started 18 years ago and he is also the CEO of Zimbra Digital Media Group with offices in Denmark and Germany. Just a few years ago he and his wife Lisbeth took a trip to Portugal to have classical dressage lessons on Lusitanos. They were so captivated by their experience they bought a farm with the intention to develop a business in eco tourism.The initial plan is well underway with Quinta da Varzea taking a fabulous development under the watchful eye of their equestrian manager Nadja Maria who is also Danish. 

Niels decided he could not think of anything better than to show his family and friends their project and give everyone an authentic experience of Portuguese equestrian culture. So one sunny day we met him and Lisbeth to make a 3 day party plan. After a mountain of organising and more emails than you can imagine we found ourselves early one Thursday morning greeting 80 guests through the arrival gates at Lisbon airport. They were clutching just a party invitation and a whole host of clothes ready for anything! They clearly knew Niels well.

The three day extravaganza took them on a journey of traditional restaurants, Portuguese wines, music, history, manor houses and of course the Lusitano horses and horsemen.

On the actual party day guests spent the morning discovering the historic, wonderful old town of Santarem finishing up with a light lunch at Ponte de Sol – a restaurant with an expansive view of the surrounding lands. Then back to the hotel to change, hop on the coaches transporting them to Quinta da Varzea to begin the party in ernest. 

Greeted by waiters serving champagne and canapés they enjoyed the afternoon taking tours around the farm on tractor and trailer and 4 by 4’s they were shown the farms agricultural projects, the mares and foals and soaked up timeless Ribatejo landscape with it cork oak trees, fruits trees, meadows and wildlife.

The equine entertainment was without a doubt a major ‘WOW’ factor.

How could it not be with the stylish pair of grey Lusitanos and handsome driver in the beautiful carriage to give them rides around the farm, followed by a ‘Private’ show from one of the four most famous classical equestri- an schools in the world – The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art. Guests lined the arena as the riders in wine velvet coats and ribbon branded bay Alter horses filled their glaze with a pas de deux, caprioles, levade, pirouettes and a stunning carousel. The elegance and grandeur of the school not lost being performed away from their home in Belem (Lisbon). The show was 45 min- utes and more or less matched the weekly show they perform in Lisbon.

Afterwards dinner was served in a beautiful open sided marquee over looking the old house and gardens. It was a Portuguese style barbecue interspersed with Danish style speeches and toasts. At dessert the Fado singers arrived to perform their laments of love, Lisbon, the sea and life of the poor. It’s a mournful sound with a sense of longing that cannot help but touch the soul but this handsome Fado group have a lightness to their songs and they perform them with real showmen style they were accompanied with guitars – everyone’s captivated. Even the riders on their horses waiting to perform the working equitation show join us to form a respectful line along the front of the marquee creating quite an atmosphere, cameras and mobiles were frantic. 

Immediately after the singing came to a close the guests were invited to follow the riders to the picadeiro where they perform their show culminating in the fire performance.

It was an energising spectacle that sets everyone perfectly in the mood to dance the night away to a talented Danish Band, flown over especially to entertain them.

To our amazement after retiring to bed in the very early hours guests wasted no time in being up and ready for the next round of activities. The day planned was as action packed with museum and mini zoo visits, wine tasting at a manor house and Lusitano stud farm called Quinta da Lagoa. Guests were treated to a performance by a traditional Ribatejo group of singers and dancers. The group arrived as booked to perform at lunchtime we were expecting about 8-10 so were delighted and astonished when 30 adults and children tumbled out of the cars. They proceeded to give a charming, fun show even managing to encourage Niels and some guests to join in the dancing. 

Everyone returned to Denmark feeling satisfied with a special and fun experience – few days they certainly will never forget. I think everyone one of us loves to know that some of the World’s tradi- tions are still very much alive and still giving us all so much pleasure. There is no doubt at all that we are set to see more and more equestrian entertainments in our events. Our equine partners bring that extra special something into our lives in so many ways, long may they enthral us and put that little skip in our hearts after all two hearts are better than one.

My thanks to Niels and Lisbeth for allowing me to give a glimpse into their fabulous weekend at Quinta da Varzea.

Shinning Bright – Portuguese Dressage Riders make history for Tokyo 2020

Shinning Bright Under the Alentejo Skies – Portuguese Dressage Riders make history for Tokyo 2020

In 2019 four riders with their ‘Chef d’Equipe’ Daniel Pinto took Portugal to the next level in International Dressage. They won a team place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Although it is not the first time Portugal has competed, with great riders such as Miguel Ralão, Daniel Pinto and Carlos Pinto competing as individuals (a composed team) in Beijing 2008, Gonçalo Carvalho as a single entry in London 2012 and previously in London 1948 three riders won the bronze medal. This is the first time a full team qualification has been achieved. The four riders have only been competing Internationally for a short time and none have ever been to the Olympics, what’s more they are all on Portuguese Lusitano horses. All the horses were bred in the Southern Region of Portugal called the Alentejo.

All are pure bred stallions demonstrating the remarkable evolution of an ancient breed in a short period of time.

Maria Caetano & Coroado AR image by

In fact it’s only in the last 15-20 years Lusitano breeders have turned their expertise to producing horses for dressage competition. Previously they were bred for bullfighting, classical dressage and working equitation. It’s a very big step into International dressage sport where the warmbloods have dominated for so long. Breeders have managed, even with a closed stud book to produce high quality horses that are bigger, stronger, with more sportive gaits and yet still retaining the overall integrity of the breed. Admittedly, they may not have the huge extended movements of the warmbloods, but they bring other qualities to the party. A natural ability to collect, fantastic temperament, work ethic and rideAbility. Lusitanos are now ranked 7th in the WBFSH FEI stud of horse breeds for dressage competition. They are one of the oldest breeds of horse in the world and there is still a relativity low number of them registered globally.

Rodrigo Torres & Fogoso Image by Rui Godinho

´A New Record !! two of the qualifying Lusitanos have been bred at the same stud farm from the same stallion Rubi AR – this is the first time in the history of Olympic dressage that a stud farm anywhere in the world has attained this´.

Carlos Lopes (the Portugal Team Selector) told me it is not just the evolution of the Lusitanos that has achieved this result, but also the investors in the horses and their support for the internationalisation of the riders. These investors have shown huge faith in the breed and commitment to International advancement. With this support there is greater access to more training and therefore better performance in the horses and riders.

Joao Torrao & Equador MVL Image by Digishots

The qualifying riders Maria Caetano Couceiro, Rodrigo Moura Torres, João Torrão and Duarte Nogueira are all true ambassadors for Portuguese equestrian heritage in modern day equitation. I talked with each of them to find out more.

Maria Caetano & Coroado

Joao Torrao & Equador MVL

Rodrigo Moura Torres & Fogoso

Duarte Nogueira & Beirao AR

Duarte Nogueira & Beirao AR

 

 

 

 

Youngest Pair to Qualify Portugal for a Team Entry in th Tokyo Olympics

João Torrão riding Lusitano Stallion Equador bred by Coudelaria do Monte Velho

At Monte Velho a stunning stud farm and luxury riding holiday centre in the Alentejo you will find João Torrão on Equador MVL. Just 25 years old João is the youngest rider to qualify the team his horse Equador is only 10 years.

João began working at Monte Velho when he was 15 years old he was there to complete a summer internship programme. João fitted in so well he was invited to join the team. Together with Equador they have shared a journey from knowing very little to competing on the International stage, really impressive for two so young.

It was João that started Equador and trained with him from the beginning. He simply glows when talking about Equador telling me he is a very fun horse to ride, always with some surprises especially when he was around 5 and 6 years discovering his stallion side. Happily in work Equador is focussed and intelligent.

About 4 years ago the manager of Monte Velho, Diogo Lima Mayer observed their potential made the decision to bring on board a trainer that could work with the pair 3 times a week. This was the game changer. The new trainer Coralie Baldrey a graduate of the famed Cadre Noir in Saumur France, brought her talent for working collaboratively with both horse and rider providing the next steps needed to accelerate them to the International stage. Watching the team work together it is easy to see what an excellent decision this was. She is a calm and attentive trainer, valuing the importance of combined training – hacking regularly focus on basics and never over train.

With Coralie ́s guidance the partnership developed enormously which resulted in the opportunity to train with Carl Hester in the UK. João told me this has been an amazing experience, he learnt so much from one of his greatest inspirations. Since then he is enthusiastically introducing new ideas to his training programme and daily activities for Equador – a stallion paddock was being constructed. He told me he is very motivated by Carl ́s amazing unrelenting positive attitude and how he finds the best in every horse.

In an interview with Carl Hester on João Torrão and Equador

“I find Lusitanos are so kind and willing to work, Equador transforms from looking like a cuddly pony in the stable to a real showman in the arena. The pair have achieved so much so young they have the potential to achieve a place in the top 10 world rankings”.

Carl when onto comment that the work Coralie had done with the pair meant their basics were so well established it made it easy to train the more advanced exercises during their stay.

Equador ́s weekly training programme is 2 days out hacking in countryside 4 days in the arena working mostly on the basics and maybe one or two exercises each session. She also works with João on confidence and focus for the competition. A intricate part to becoming an international competitor is our mental capacity and determination, numerous sport legends tell you that mental strength, visualisation and focus are vital keys to success.

Like Maria Caetano, João has horses to develop and he prefers to do everything himself from grooming, to grazing, hacking and training. He wants to develop a strong bond with each horse, there is no doubt that he has achieved this.

He is currently ranked 46th in the FEI dressage rankings.

He has several young horses bred at the stud farm he is bringing on for dressage competition. One in particular is a very promising young horse Maestro MVL standing 175cms he is demonstrating a temperament and talent for high level competition.

Joao riding Maestro MVL

 

Monte Velho – Lusitano Breeding Programme

Monte Velho have a very specific breeding strategy preferring to have just 5 mares. Each year they carefully select Lusitano stallions that most compliment each mare and potential for dressage competition. This is working out really well for them, to date they have produced some excellent horses that have been sold Internationally for dressage. The mares and foals live in a wide open landscape with many hectares of gentle hills to roam, cork oak trees for shade and a lake for water and bathing. Not sure you could image a better start for young horses.

Monte Velho Equo Resort – Riding holidays

The farm also offers high quality riding holidays with beautifully designed accommodation, restaurant, spa area and endless outdoor space. 20 riders per week can enjoy riding schoolmaster Lusitanos in their beautiful arenas surrounded by Alentejo beauty. There is also plenty of other leisure activities available such as biking, hacking, boating and walking.

See more about their holidays here

I think we will be seeing a lot in the future from this charming pair – honestly cannot wait!

Text Teresa Burton Images Bruno Barata

read about the other qualifiers  Maria Caetano on Coroado,  Rodrigo Moura Torres on FogosoDuarte Nogueira on Beirao

How they qualified

 

 

Rodrigo Moura Torres & Lusitano stallion Fogoso

 

 Rodrigo on Fogoso

Rodrigo Moura Torres has been riding all his life on his family farm in the Alentejo.  He began his riding career working the farm cattle and competing in working equitation. This took him to performing shows at equestrian events even riding without reins. A short search on YouTube and you will find wonderful videos of Rodrigo riding one time change with a garrocha in one hand and a hat in the other.

 

I was amused to notice on the wall in their viewing gallery there is a poster of Rodrigo performing in 2003 at a show in Hickstead,UK  without reins! In 2019 he was photographed again at Hickstead winning the Nation’s Cup – with reins this time!

 

 

 

 

 

Rodrigo told me that one of his early masters was Mestre Joao Lopes Aleixo the most important tips he learnt from him was the importance of the seat to have balance and control to give impulsion from behind. Create harmony with invisible aids,  still today he is working on this.

Their beautiful farm has been in the family for over 200 years. In 1978 Marcos Torres Vaz Freire and his son Carlos founded the stud – Coudelaria Torres Vaz Freire.

They began with horses from Rio Frio and João Moura’s brand with two key foundation mares – a mother and daughter Garça and Negaça. Today if you trace all their horses you will see they all come from these mares. The first horses were bred for bull fighting and then working equitation but in last 10 years they turned their eye to producing dressage horses. The Farm currently has 45 mares and about 20 breeding every year.  They enjoy blissful lives out in large fields dotted with cork oak trees and gentle hills, there are lakes for water and in spring it is a mass of vibrant colours with a full covering of wild flowers. Very magical especially at the sunrise and sunset.

Carlos, Rodrigo and Maria out with some of the mares

Carlos is the backbone of the farm, it is clear how much he loves the horses and is totally dedicated to producing amazing animals. As Rodrigo´s wife Maria told me the whole farm depends on him, he knows everything going on, plans daily and he fixes everything.  Carlos wholeheartedly supports his son Rodrigo´s career, whenever possible he is at the competitions filming the tests. While we were visiting Carlos took us to the fields to see the mares and foals. I couldn’t help a private smile to see how Carlos hugs his horses he clearly loves them very much.

Currently 69th Place in the FEI World Dressage Rankings

Fogoso TVF is now the farm’s shinning star. At only 10 years old and 172cms he is a very tall Lusitano, his powerful limbs and body demonstrate very well the dressage evolution in their breeding strategy. Approved as a breed stallion, this year he will be sire to 30 or 40 foals many on the farm. A stallion with star quality Fogoso is a horse that loves competitions rising to challenges confidently he has steadily improved taking them to an impressive 69th position in FEI´s world dressage rankings.

 

A very important part of Rodrigo´s success is the loving family team around him, particularly his wife Maria Amaral and his father Carlos Torres.

Maria has been a big influence in Rodrigo dressage career, they make a great team.  A successful GP rider in her own right, they ride together and train each other. She told me she admired Fogoso´s star quality right from the moment she saw him as a colt. At that time she was only dating Rodrigo, however it didn’t stop her from persuading him and Carlos to sell her a half ownership in him.

Fogoso clearly still has this natural star quality and since he is also a breeding stallion he is very proud, when being led without a saddle he thinks it is breeding time so can get really playful.  At the competitions he truly shines loving the limelight.

 

Rodrigo and Maria have a fantastic supportive relationship that has enabled them to launch into an International level which is very exciting for them and the future of their horses. They are a strategic couple, after every competition they review the test videos assessing each part, the scores to decide where and how they can improve. The aim now is to increase the scores to consistently over 73%.

 

I sincerely look forward to seeing them progress.  The stud farm is Coudelaria Torre Vaz Freire Monte de Vila Formosa – Chança. Alter do Chão Portugal.

It is possible to visit and stay right on the farm in their farm holiday cottages.

Text Teresa Burton Lusitano Horse Finder    Images Bruno Barata

read about the other qualifiers  Maria Caetano on Coroado,  Joao Torrao on Equador MVLDuarte Nogueira on Beirao

How they qualified

 

Lusitanos -They truly are Modern Horses with Timeless Quality!

 

Duarte Nogueira & Beirão AR (Coudelaria de Alter)

Duarte Nogueira riding Lusitano stallion Beirão AR bred and owned by the Coudelaria de Alter

Duarte has been working in the Alter Organisation for 35 years beginning his career at their other farm Companhia de Lezirias. His daily life is backing and training young horses and the riders working in his team. Although he loves dressage and to compete he does not come across as hugely competitive.

Duarte working a promising young Alter Stallion

He told me he never imagined he would become an International Dressage Rider and be one of the ones to qualify Portugal for the Japan.

Being an incredibility modest man he is very committed to his daily routine. I had the impression he was slightly in awe at the possibility of actually going to Japan next year.

Duarte on Beirão indoor arena at Alter

Duarte´s main competition horse is Beirão, a huge extremely grand stallion that has such a noble presence when I stood beside him in the grooming area I was struck by his ´zen´energy. What a great shoulder and neck he has. There is a strong sense of the history of the ancient breed about him a war horse, the gentle giant. He appears that nothing would ever faze him, in fact Duarte confirmed this by telling me he what a brave and willing horse he is never says no to anything.  He said he feels Beirao understands everything like he has lived many lives. They do make a lovely team.

Most of Beirão daily care is done by Duarte from grooming, washing and training. Duarte was the one to originally to back him for riding. For such a big horse he is very elastic and light when he is moving.

Beirão has an impressive family behind him, like Coroado AR he is the son of Rubi AR the highest scoring Lusitano ever in the Olympics. In fact the Alter Stud has an outstanding track record with their horses. With a majority of the Lusitanos arriving at the Olympics having AR bloodlines – 3 out of the 4 horse that qualified for Japan share AR bloodlines. Rubi AR owned by Christine Jacoberger is the highest scoring Lusitano and Guizo AR owned by Yeguada la Lira y la W won team silver for Spain in the 2006 Athens Olympics. Guizo´s son Zingaro de lyw was in the Brazilian team in the Rio Olympics 2016. Beirão is approved for breeding and is already the father of many young horses.

About the Alter Stud Farm

The Alter Royal stud farm dedicated to the nobility of the Lusitanian horse was founded by King D. João V  in 1748 with the aim to prepare horses for the royal riding school. The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art located in Lisbon

 

“May this breed be kept forever pure”, the kingdom was commanded in 1812.

Since it was created there have been many setbacks over the years with wars and political cues threatening the stud but with foresight and determination it was preserved.  Now in modern day the farm has been revitalised, and is still successfully producing horses.

Image Francisco Beja, Duarte Nogueira & Beirão AR

The farm Director Francisco Beja manages the day to day running of the stud especially the breeding programmes. Together with João Pedro Rodrigues of the Portuguese school of Equestrian Art they carefully select the stallions for breeding to produce horses for the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, dressage and various other equestrian disciplines. Francisco is also the driving force behind the competition programme for the Alter horses, it is a tribute to his ambition for their success that has seen these fabulous horses, the owners and sponsors to make such significant strides in the evolution of the breed.

Alter Mares in the famous mare and foal stables at Coudelaria de Alter

The farm is more than 800 hectares of stunning Alentejo countryside close to the Spanish Border. A landscape of gentle hills, ancient olive and cork trees, scattered with huge grey boulders that seem to have been there for ever. In the springtime wild flowers carpet the land and it is utterly stunning especially seeing the herds of mares and their foals grazing amongst the vibrant colours. Visitors are welcome at the farm they receive regular tours and there are sometimes events going on. As you go round the stud, you will find out about its history from the pictures on display in the entrance and in the museum. In the stables, admire the haughtiness of the Alter Real breed of Lusitanian horse, and learn how they become top stallions and how they are selected for the advanced riding school.

Just this year a Vila Gale hotel has opened on the farm so you can stay there to enjoy the area and the horses.

 

The future is looking very bright for the young riders in Portugal with quality horses, better training, greater support and greater global interest giving them more opportunities to become serious International players. The Lusitano horse has in last few years sky rocketed in World interest attracting equestrian visitors to try and buy the horses therefore adding to the strengthening of the Portuguese economy.

 

Lusitanos -They truly are Modern Horses with Timeless Quality!

Text By Teresa Burton www.lusitanohorsefinder.com

images by Bruno Barata Photography Portugal

read about the other qualifiers  Maria Caetano on Coroado,  Rodrigo Moura Torres on FogosoJoao Torrao on Equador MVl

How they qualified

First European Certified EuroFarrier in Portugal

 

Image – Nuno Bernardes

First Farrier in Portugal with the European Certified EuroFarrier Qualification

This qualificated is issued by the European Federation of Farriers Association.

There is an old saying among horsemen, “No foot, No horse.” Despite their size and strength, horses are notoriously fragile animals. Four slender legs and small hooves must bear the horse’s full weight of 400 to 650 kilos.

 

Therefore hoof care is a vitally important issue for all horse owners. It is true that a horse may be able to sustain injury or illness in many parts of its body, the hoof bears weight and so adds hundreds of kilos of stress to any ailment.  Maintaining a healthy hoof is the best way to give your horses a good chance to have a long, healthy lives. And that is only possible by having the best, and better educated, professionals at your service.

After many years as an Equine Veterinarian, Nuno Bernardes found one area of equine medicine that shortly became his passion and his medical focus: Podiatry. One of the gaps he also found in his education was precisely hoof care and hoof therapeutics. And not only he decided to put his focus on improving his theoretical background on hoof and its conditions, but he also found the need to put his hands directly at the trade. Not having a true education reference in any institution in Portugal, he decided to engage in an Emergency Farrier Course in Spain that allowed him to get the basic skills to add to his already strong theoretical knowledge.

Following the premise that more qualification comes through education, in February this year Nuno Bernardes achieved a mile stone for Portuguese farriers by receiving the EFFA -Certified Eurofarrier Qualification. He has become the first farrier in Portugal to achieve this level of expertise. This certification recognizes the knowledge and skills to be able to perform legally the farrier trade in almost every country in Europe. Judge by recognized specialists through a very demanding and detailed examination, Nuno was able to pass this exam and get his recognition.

 

EFFA -The European Federation of Farriers Associations develops a common basic standard of competence in farriery.  The Mission of the European Federation of Farriers Associations is to improve the welfare of the horse by encouraging the highest standards of trimming and shoeing.

Nuno has been our farrier for a number of years and I have always been struck by how much knowledge and active interest he has in the subject . He is continuously committed to advancing his learning by regularly travelling to other countries for clinics and courses. With Nuno we have the added advantage that he is also a practising vet so he brings his veterinary knowledge to his work. His efforts have paid off and I think this will encourage many more farriers aim for the same level of excellence.

Being very found of sharing his knowledge with veterinary students that he tutors, and other farriers, he is always available to lecture at the universities and in farrier meetings. One of his goals his to increase the level of the farrier trade in Portugal through a formal education program for starting farriers but also organizing Continuous Professional Development courses for already stablished farriers. Following this objective, Nuno also had a very important role in promoting the constitution of the Portuguese Farriers Association, from which he is also a board member.

Thoroughout his daily work he deals with a lot of therapeutical cases, working in strong connection with some veterinarians and hospitals, but he also shoes horses that don’t have any particular problem but that do have owners that demand for a very knowledgeable professional.

Having owned horse most my life and now been in Portugal many years owning and selling horses I have seen the results of a huge amount of pre purchase examinations. I think it gives me small position to comment on the importance of good hoof care. I can honestly say that I have witnessed an improvement in the quality of farrier work but it has saddened many times when a lovely horse has been failed due to neglect in this area. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be rigorous when you own horses about hoof care and shoeing.

 

 

So how do we maintain a healthy hoof?

Just like our own health it is better to commit to overall wellbeing as a health benchmark.  Not waiting for problems to take action. If the diet is right, the hooves are regularly checked even for breeding stock and good shoeing you are well on the way.  Horses in work should have their hooves picked out daily before and after work.  The aim of picking out the hooves is to keep out rocks, clean out damp bedding and mud to avoid thrush. Just like our fingernails, horse’s hooves grow continuously and need to be trimmed every five to six weeks to keep them in proper shape.

A trained farrier should do the trimming. Inexperienced horse owners can easily trim the hoof unproperly, leading to infection or discomfort.  The hooves must also be balanced to the horse’s natural way this is done by seeing the horse moving and the wear of the shoe and hoof. If this is not done correctly the horse can end up uneven in their gait or worse physically disabled. Not every horse will require shoeing, but if your horses are doing a lot of hard work or working on hard surfaces, they will probably need to be shod. And if he is unbalanced or in need of therapeutic shoeing it will most certainly do.

There are a number of other problems that can occur If a hoof is not maintained well, problems such as thrush, canker, bruised sole, abscesses, and cracks in the hoof wall.  Thrush is a sign of infection. You will recognise this by the malodourous discharge from the frog of the horse. To avoid this keep your horse out of constant wet, and dirty conditions. Bruised soles often occur after a poor shoeing job or if shoes are left on too long. Abscesses can be a horse’s nightmare. If an abscess develops, more than likely your horse will suddenly be impaired on one foot. They are caused by puncture wounds, or by bruising, but long and neglected hooves suffer the most. To solve this, you will need to see a veterinarian, have the abscess drained, poultice and assure that he has his tetanus vaccination updated. Cracks are important to avoid because they can also lead to infection and severe lameness. The easiest way to avoid cracks is to have a professional trim the hoof. Usually cracks develop from unbalanced hooves and wrong weight bearing distribution. Those pressures can affect the coronary band, where the hoof grows from, leading to the deep cracks that are quite hard and time consuming to manage. There are other conditions too such as white line disease. The white line is the area (that looks whitish but more often is yellow) between the outside hoof wall and where it meets the sole. When this becomes damaged, it allows fungus and/or bacteria to invade and separate the layers of the hoof wall. If this happens, the infection can spread around the hoof and up the inside of the wall to gradually “eat away” at the hoof. It usually don’t cause lameness but its progression can go as high as the coronary band. At this stage it can compromise severely the suspension of the third phalanx within the hoof, leading to severe signs pretty similar to those of a laminitis.

A quality balanced diet is paramount for healthy hooves.

A quality balanced diet is paramount for healthy hooves.  Horses that are obese or severely malnourished will eventually develop problems in the hooves.  Horses’ hooves are made up of protein and keratin (the same stuff that makes up hair). Like a horse’s hair coat, hooves will grow faster when days are longer. And while hooves may be slower than your horse’s hair coat to tell you that your horse’s overall health is suffering, sooner or later you’ll see poor nutrition reflected in cracks, chips or uneven hoof growth. It may be a subtle (and slow-moving) nutrition report, but your horse’s hooves are doing their best to say “pay attention!” And never forget water!!!

Check the articles on feeding Lusitanos – knowing their history and early lifestyle helps hugely in understanding the right diet for them

An obese horse may be at risk for laminitis due to a metabolic condition known as Equine Metabolic Syndrome. Laminitis occurs when the delicate folds of tissue in the hoof (laminae) that produce the hard substance of the hoof wall and keep the hoof wall attached to the underlying bone, become inflamed or damaged. Left unattended, laminitis can lead to founder,a chronic condition in which a horse’s coffin bone rotates or sinks. Learn to be aware of the nutritional aspects of the feeds you choose especially the levels of sugar which is not suitable for horses in large amounts. In our management we prefer to keep sugar entirely out of our horses´ diet.

The benefits of plenty of movement is vital and when possible horses are better in overall well being when they can live some of their time outside in paddocks. Movement stimulates the blood flow to the hoof keeping them flexible and energised.

These are just tips about horse care and a few problems that could occur if you do not understand the importance of a healthy hoof.  Just remember the old saying –

`No foot, no horse.’ A horse is only as strong as the feet it stands on.

A big thank you to Nuno for his outstanding work and well deserved achievements it is another step for Portuguese Equestrian Culture and providing high quality service.

Text – Teresa Burton

Images Carolina Duarte

You can contact Nuno Bernardes email  nbluso@cvetequinos.com