Alentejo Ranch Holidays now Booking

Favouring Traditional Methods over Modern Machinery


Text by Teresa Burton  Photography by ABR fotografias

Last year we made a visit to the stunning farms  of the Tavares Moreira family, located in the Alentejo close to the Spainish Border.



Bernardo Tavares Moreira with his wife Rita Torres Moreira and daughter Maria Francisca Torres Moreira.

The farms are called Herdade da Carapuςa and Herdade D´agosto

During our visit we were inspired to work with the family to open up an opportunity for people to have holidays on the farms. To provide a Traditional Portuguese Farm experience learning about the horses and cattle. Sadly like so many heritage activities  many farms have turned away from using the horses to work with the cattle in favour of tractors and quads which they think are quicker and cheaper.  However there are those that would disagree with this and highly value the more traditional methods. One of these people is Bernardo Tavares Moreira.

Bernardo Tavares Moreira

Since a very young age Bernardo has always been passionate about the traditional methods and rural life.  Growing up in Lisbon he dreamed to be on the farm. A dream that never left him until finally he moved to the Alentejo to spend his days working with the cattle and the Lusitano Horses they bred. He continues to this day working the farm in the traditional way.  Although of course, from time to tme he uses tractors and quads, almost always he aims to be managing the farm from the back of a lusitano. 

Alentejana Cattle

The family are breeding pure bred Alentejana cattle. This is a Portuguese breed, also known as Transtagan.  The breed orginates from the Alentejo region and was used for agricultural work. They are quite similar to the Spanish Retinta Breed.

These gentle animals are a medium build with a golden red colour.  The horns are large and pointed forward with upturned tips. The hind legs very muscular and strong and the shoulders long and broad.  They are considered rustic, energetic animals and they really suit the beautiful Alentejo landscape.

For centuries they were the most important working breed in the plains.  However, from the mid 1900´s the mechanisation of agricultural work slowly took over.  So the need for them to work the land deminished and they became used primarly for meat. The flavor of the meat is intense and it is very tender. However they didn´t produce enough meat so crossing them with other breeds such as Charolias and Limozines is done yielding more meat on each animal.  With this change the pure genetics of the breed started to become comprised.

Because of this the studbook of the Alentejana was established in 1970.  Breeders of this wonderful native breed began to work to limit genetic regression. National and community programmes set up to promote conversation and sustainable use of animal genetic resources.

Alenetejana Bull

Bernardo and his family continue this in their breeding programmes.  They have 3 cattle herds on the farms.  They don´t sell pure bred Alentejana cattle simply select the females to different herds according to their quality and genetics. The highest quality retained to breed pure bred cattle and the others crossed bred with Limousin and Charolias bulls for meat cattle.  The cows and bulls are simply stunning.

The cattle are able to graze in expansive pasture lands of rolling hills dotted with cork oaks trees providing plenty of shade in the hot summers. It makes for quite a sight to visit these beautiful herds.

Landscape of rolling hills and cork oak trees

The Farm´s Lusitano Horses

The Lusitanos mares

The stud farm has a small herd of quality Lusitano mares with old bloodlines suitable for bull fighting, working equitation and nowadays dressage.  The horse have a lot of Veiga influence and recently with a dressage focus while maintaining the Baroque the mares have been put to the Olympic/GP stallion Forgoso. The horses are selected and some sold Internationally and the others retained on the farm.

The stud name is – Manuel Francisco de Moura Tavares Herdeiros  (Manuel Tavares Herdeiros)

Bernardo and Rita

Bernardo breeds and trains all his horses which are a mix or pure bred Lusitanos and Luso/Arabs. Favouring the Vaqueira / Garrochista style and he has adopted many of the techniques.

Particularly the use the Garrocha that is now seen in part of the working equitation competition.

The working horses are all highly trained and have many advanced exercises that they need to quickly react and manuveur during work.  Exercises such as canter pirouettes, lateral movements, canter changes are all required in the work.

His work is very skilled and simpatic and it includes everything from simply moving cattle from one pasture to another to separating animals for vacinations etc.  From horse back it is much less stressful for the cattle, they comply easily because they totally accept the horses as their managers .

There is a special bond between the Lusitanos and the cattle.


The Family

This is all made all the more special as the whole family are in someway involved. Everyone brings so much creativity to the table. Bernardo´s wife Rita Torres Moreira is a nutritionist and on weekends she joins Bernardo along with their son and daughter to ride the horses and help with the cattle. Rita and their daughter Francisca are so skilled on their Lusitanos I really enjoyed watching them effortlessly manoeuvre the cows into pens for vacninating. carefully parting the calves so they didn´t get injured and minimising any stress in the process.

Rita´s brother is Rodrigo Torres one of Portugal most outstanding Olympic Riders.

Rita Torres Moreira

Maria Francisca Torres Moreira

Ana Tavares Moreira the owner of Carapura Farm has converted the old hay and animal barns into the most fabulous accomodations – stylish, creative, well appointed and peaceful.  Surrounded by extreaordinary views in all directions you cannot help but love staying there.

Maria Claudia Sampaio Soares – Bernardo´s Aunt is a gifted potter. She has a pottery locally and provides classes for those interested to try it out.  You can also order things to be made.  We are have several items made by Claudia.  Claudia owns Herdade Dagosto and breeds Lusitanos.

Cláudia Sampaio Soares



We are so happy that now we can offer you the chance to stay on these farm and learn with Bernardo a little about his life, how the horses are trained and worked with the cattle. It is available to up to 4 people per week.  We only offer to small groups per week to ensure you have plenty of opportunity for individual tuition and an immersive experience.

Bernardo will provide all the training during your stay and his gentle confident manner will guide you through a remarkable experince of the working horses and all they need to do their job effortlessly.



Bernardo and Francisca

Rita with the cattle





2023 National Horse Fair in Golegã

Golegã National Horse Fair is almost upon us. 


It’s an opportunity like no other to emmerse yourself in an equestrian feast morning to night.

With the run up to fair this week is a frenzy of activity for those going with their Lusitanos. Many breeders take multiple horses some as many as 20 animals.  So good preparation is is paramount. The horses are inpecability turnouts everyday washed and braided. Costumes, traditional saddlery clean.

Golegã National Horse Fair  3rd – 12th November  2023


Now acclaimed as one of the World´s most prestigeous equestrian event. It is a festival that still embodies Portuguese Equestrian Heritage seemlessly blended with modern equestrian sport.  It is an opportunity like no other to emmerse yourself into an equestrian feast morning to night.



If you are a regular visitor or going for the first time it is lovely to find out a little bit more about this the fair came about –


There is a fasinating history about the fair which was orginally called Feira de São Martinho.


Always Held In November

The Fair is held at the beginning of November over a 10-day period. The dates must include the most important day, 11th November, which is the Dia de São Martinho (the Feast of Saint Martin). On this day the people eat roasted chestnuts and drink new wine for Magusto – Magusto is the celebration of tasting the news wines or Agua Pe and roasting chestnuts.  You can read the full history of this remarkable fair here.




Golegã is considered by many to be the ultimate event to see Lusitanos everything from the young rising stars to established International competition horses. There are a multitude of shows and classes over the 10 days where you can really experience the special qualities of this versatile horse.

The versatility of the Lusitano breed is so elegantly expressed in the events held over the fair –  You will be Captivated!

It is prudent to plan you time to ensure you seize the opportunity to see as many of the events as possible. There is an amount of walking between locations so give yourself time for this in your planning. For the full program go to the official Golegã Page

We would be delighted to meet you at the fair and share sometime with you visiting horses or just a chat over a coffee.  Also during your stay you are welcome to visit us at our yard close to Lisbon airport take some classical dressage lessons or try our Lusitanos for sale.

You can send us a whatsapp message on 00 351 913 175 772 to arrange a get together either in Golega or at our yard.





Text by Teresa Burton. Images by Lena Saugen Photography












Hand Stitched Saddlery – an ART rarely seen today

Article written by Teresa Burton

Image by Lena Saugen – Hand stitched bridle placing the metal ornaments



The saddle craftsman takes great care with every stitch, responding to the

subtle variations in the leather.



It’s a meditative act in a world that no longer values such things. Hand sewing sacrifices speed for the sake of quality. It is time-consuming, that’s part of its charm.

Sadly, with the modern desire to have everything immediately, handmade saddlery is becoming harder to find. There are very few people now that can make a living in this heritage art and sadly even less interested to learn the trade.
The hand maker is a passionate soul who creates every piece right from the moment he or she chooses the materials, cuts the shapes and lovingly hand stitches each piece. This takes time and so limits the maker to how many products they can produce in a month. They need to be fairly rewarded for the beautiful and meticulous work they do.

Those that are prepared to wait and can afford the products are in for a treat, you will own a piece of functional art.


Image by Teresa Burton – Hand saddle stitched brow band.


What makes Hand Stitching special?


Hand stitching compared to machine stitches is very different. Hand stitching is generally much stronger. In fact the leather is more likely to give way sooner than the stitching. Why? Because when you use a machine, that line of stitching requires two separate threads that lock around each other in what is known as a “locking stitch”. Whereas, a hand-stitched line uses a single thread with needles on either end. The thread runs back and forth on either side of the leather in what is called a “saddle stitch” .

The saddle stitch seam is considered an indestructible seam


Image by Lena Saugen – Jose de Sousa grandson of the famous Jose Victorino


This seam was designed more than a century ago by craftsmen saddlers and harnessers  to make coupling parts for working horses – saddle, equestrian, horse-drawn carriages etc. Also the parts of leather heavily subjected to wear (handles, belts, etc.). They used it to stitch luxury leather goods such as luggage.

Goyard, Dior,  Hermes, Chanel or  Louis Vuitton valued hand-stitching and thats why their products have premium prices. Understanding the difference in the stitching is what makes it easy to recognise fake articles. However, sadly today even in these French luxury houses 99% of the stitching is done by machines.

If a thread were to snap on a piece that sewn on a sewing machine, the entire line of thread could potentially unravel allowing the two pieces of leather to separate. However, in a hand-stitched item, the thread will not unravel and the leather pieces will not separate from each other. More importantly, it’s easier to repair the line of stitching.

Image by Lena Saugen – The saddle stitch method


How to recognise the differences


It is important to recognise that craftmen and artists can also work their magic with sewing machines and this is certainly not about belittling the sewing machine. I am simply casting some light on a craft that is losing traction in the modern world.

The main aesthetic differences to recognize are:

  • The reverse side, is less “beautiful” on a machine seam.
    The regularity of the machine against the charm of a handmade product.
    The direction of inclination  of the thread on the face and the reverse.
  • On the machine-seamed side: the inclination goes upwards
  • On the hand-seamed side: the inclination is downwards

In hand stitching the maker can use a larger thread thickness and for really wide threads the holes are punched and they can achieve or more rugged look if required. Some leather crafters use smaller holes on their chisels or pierce the leather using an awl, then use a much finer thread to give their items a more sophisticated look.

The method and tools


Image by Lena Saugen – Vintage tools for leather work over 100 years old and still in use-


Hand stitching saddle stitch (and tied saddle stitch) must be strong, flexible, waterproof and pretty because it is a decorative element in its own right. The sewing is done by hand without mechanized means. The tools are rudimentary, many over 100 years old, and require perfect mastery.
Each tool is a work of art in its own right and bares the loving wear of countless hours working the leather peices in the craftmans hands. A craftman´s tool kit consists of :

  • A sewing clip (to hold the piece and leave your hands free)
    A wheel or claw to strike (to mark the location of each point)
    An awl (tool for perforating leather)
    A linen thread
    Two needles


Image by Lena Saugen – Jose de Sousa


The particularity of the saddle stitch is to sew with a thread and two needles. In order to be able to use both hands for holding the two needles, and the awl to pierce the leather, the piece is held in a wooden sewing clip, wedged between the legs.

Image by Lena Saugen – Hand Making Tools for Saddlery


Saddle Stitching and Machine Stitching both have their place.


Saddle stitching without a doubt makes for a more durable, long-lasting product. The question is whether or not an item requires that level of durability or if corners can be cut to lower the overall cost of the item.
There is a market for both and beautiful products are produced with either method. It is cheaper to produce products that are machine stitched so making it more affordable for many comsumers. However if you can find your way to owning one hand stitch item you will be owning a piece of art.





We are utterly enthusiastic about Equestrian Heritage . Sadly in Portugal there are barely any hand stitchers left to produce beautiful bridles, saddles and halters. We have made it our mission is to support and promote Portuguese Artisans and heritage items.

We are very previlaged to be working with some true artists, you will find their work in our online shop.

Feel free to contact us if you have any special requests.

Images by Lena Saugen Photography, Teresa Burton and Christophe Taniere

Text by Teresa Burton







Where Horses Coach Humans

Lusitanos Make Great Coaches


A refuge for all the senses – this is the margravial hunting lodge Falkenhaus. Built in 1722, this elegant building is affectionately known as “the Falcon Hood”.  With its recent renovation, the owners Eva and Randolph Klautke have created one of the most beautiful retreats offering well-being for people and animals.

The lodge is located near the Wagner town of Bayreuth on the edge of the Fichtelgebirge.

Creating a symbiosis between the charm of the old castle and the hip boutique character was important to the Klautke family during their conversion.

Accordingly, the palace hall, bar, library and salon were largely left in their original condition and upgraded with modern interior highlights. For the noble four-legged friends, a stable wing was built in the old barn and a riding hall and riding arena were built in the castle garden.

The fantastic ambience of Schloss Falkenhaus is now offering stunning events-

  • Special seminar formats such as horse-assisted coaching – a method in which the horses act as coaches.
  • Welling Being Weekends
  • Coroporate Marketing and Promotional events
  • Weddings

In addition to Shetland pony Harald and Trakehner mare Lilly, the coach team also consists of Lusitano gelding Elmo and the Lusitano stallions Merengue and Egipcio. The latest arrivals are two Lusitano fillies Ofelia and Pirilampo, whom joined the team in 2022.

Horse-Assisted Coaching


In horse-assisted coaching, the horses are the mirror to the human participants. They can highlight and reveal discrepancies such as team conflicts. They reflect our energies and in turn this helps teams to explore relationship topics. This interaction provides a wonderful platform to find ways to resolve old patterns of thought and action. The horses do not need any special training for this coaching, however it is important that the animals have balance and mental strength.  We carefully select horses to suit and enjoy this work.


“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” – Sir Winston Churchill

These experiences can really open people up to new self awareness and communication possibilities in a fun and calm environment.


Eva Klautke: “In our view, their sensitivity, curiosity and people-orientation predestines the Lusitanos for this task as assistant trainers in our seminar formats. We are very pleased that in Teresa Burton and her online platform “” We have a partner at our side who also has a great feel for the individual characters when it comes to brokering and selecting the horses.”


Programmes for Companies and Individuals

In addition to the academy formats for companies such as horse-assisted coaching.  Schloss Falkenhaus also offer the private “wellness” programs, such as yoga retreats and other related short breaks. Here, too, the four-legged mental trainers are usually involved.

“Horses teach us to be present, aware, and connected not only with them, but with ourselves and our environment.” – Lisa Wysocki



Interested you can contact them via their website


You can also email Eva



We Love all Things Heritage, Classic, Timeless Style

Cool, classic & not afraid of statement elegance

By Teresa Burton

Aisling Equestrian Clothing is an exciting Stockholm brand inspired into reality by a dynamic duo Charlotte Treschow and Johanna Bodin.  These two creative women were looking to bring vintage style into modern equestrian clothing and seeing their latest collection they really are hitting the mark.


Fashion has always been of enormous interest for the duo. Both find inspiration from classic style icons like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly as well as current fashion trends and from men’s fashion.


The company began in under 10 years ago with the intention not to compromise the function that you need in riding wear nor the style that you have outside the stable,” In others words clothing you could be seen out wearing in a city coffee shop and not look out of place. 

Rethinking Equestrian Fashion

Timeless silhouettes made in high technology fabrics: we create modern equestrian fashion with focus on details and quality. Make it count and join us! 



In May ths year it was a real pleasure to host Lena Saugen and Therese Alhaug, who came over from Norway with a mission to photograph the latest collection from this quality brand. What´s more, everything was made even better by Aisling Equestrian choosing the up and coming International Grand Prix Dressage Rider Rita Ralao be their model and to sponsor her.


Rita Ralão – GP Dressage rider living and working in her family business Ralão Dressage Team. Located close to Cascais in Portugal



I am always ready to promote great projects, riders, horses and brands and this was every bit what we hoped it would be.



Rita made a perfect model and all the contributors to the day were spectacular. I sincerely hope we will be able to host further shoots in the future. Above all, it is great for Portuguese Equestrian Life and the highly talented riders now competing on the International Stage.




For more about the beautiful styles from Aisling Equestrian check out their website.  The garments are high quality in fabrics, finishes and style – above all you will not be dissappointed.

Images by Lena Saugen Photography

Editor/Writer Teresa Burton Lusitano Heriatge

Thank you to Daniela and Raquel Costa and the lovely Palomino Lusitano Limao.  Nuno Cavaco´s logistics support.  Therese Alhaug for video clips and styling.

Ralao Dressage – Facebook

Alexa Shirt in Lilac

Kate knee patch breeches



Mottled Horses by Iwona Jankowski

American Contemporary Art –

Mottled Horses by Iwona Jankowski

We were introduced to the beautiful work of Iwona by Claudia a dear friend and client that had some beautiful portraits painted of her Lusitano horses.  The work is stunning, perfectly capturing the characters of each horse. The eyes in particular reflect the very depth of the equine´s character and mood.


Artist´s Statement Iwona she told me about her impressionist style called ´Mottled Horses´

My “Mottled Horses” – Equine art developed since 2002 in my new “Mottled” style that merges abstract and expressionism with a touch of realism.

The subject is created on a colorful abstract background to express feelings, often shown as a close-up, with special attention to the eyes and focusing on specific moods and composition. Often with secondary transparent image/s to show movement or specific scenario.

In my paintings, I don’t intend to replicate photo-realistic objects, but to capture the utmost uniqueness of life. Illustrating my subjects, I often pay no attention to exact shapes, textures, or real colors and emphasize just on a small fragment, sometimes a very tiny detail, in order to insinuate an idea.

That approach leads me to concentrate on what I feel and not what I see or know about the subject. Also, it helps me to effectively use visuals to depict a story about my subject.


My art captures just an indication of a subject to leave the rest for my viewer’s imagination to create the unique picture.

We are very proud to be able to offer a selection of limit additions in our online shop.

Visit Shop for the Limited Addition Collection.   SEE WHOLE COLLECTION

Original Art –  Iwona does commissions to find out more contact us here.  The prices will depend on the size, complexity and location. Interested in a Commission




Getting the Best out of the Equine Pre Purchase Exam

The Pre Purchase Exam

By Teresa Burton Lusitano Heritage and Lusitano Horse Finder

Thoughts, Tips and Recommendations for the buyer and seller

It is a big step searching for and buying a horse in another country: especially if It is your first time. The whole journey can be very emotional right from the moment you start to having your perfect dancing partner at home with you. Once you have selected a horse to make a truly informed decision you must put emotion to oneside and organise a Pre Purchase Exam PPE.

First and foremost I want to say that a pre purchase should not be viewed as a pass or fail for the horse. There are of course, some exceptions. But in most cases it is simply an assessment of whether the horse is able to do the job you want him for or not. Also that you can understand and live with any likely flaws the horse may have.

Lets face it If you carry out enough tests you will find a flaw in every horse. This is why there is an international standard set out to carry out a purchase exam – The 5 Stage Pre Purchase Exam PPE.

This PPE is simply a snapshot into the horse´s health and physical condition at the time of the exam. It is designed to provide you with a hint to the possible future of the horse but it cannot predict the future!

The PPE has come along way since the days in my childhood and teens, when we bought horses with a simple 10 minute check up to now an exam that can last several hours. There is one thing I believe is important from my past I feel is rather lost these days. This is taking the horse at face value. Now before you shout me down regailling stories of unimaginable horrors I want to say I understand. But I have seen horses with what could only be termed appalling xrays and flexions test that perform beautifully everyday with never a days lameness.

While I am certainly not in anyway a qualified veterinarian the content in this article are my reflexions based purely on many years experience. Through my work I have been directly or indirectly involved with literally hundreds of such exams. Even so it is with some trepidation I approach this sensitive subject, in the hope that I can help those buying and those selling with some recommendations and thoughts on the best way forward.

Find a Vet in another Country

When buying a horse in another country you usually have to rely on a vet located in that country to carry out the exam. The normal protocal is that this is done in conjunction with your regular vet as ultimately he or she will be the one caring for your horse. However this can become a big muddle if not conducted out with the right care and information. The vet that actually carries out the exam is the one who is in direct contact with the horse and can make an assessment from all aspects. Only looking at x-rays and videos is very useful but is not the whole picture.

What´s more we have the varibility between veterarians one says no problem the other thinks otherwise. So it is vital to keep in mind the question is this horse able to do the job you intend for him. Lets face it the demands on a leisure horse are generally much lower than of a high level competition horse.

It is sensible to be prudent about who you choose to do your exam just like in any profession veta tend to specialise in different areas and can offer extra expertise on all manner of subjects from diet, to lameness, husbandary to viruses etc. There are vets that are more specialised and knowledgeable in pre purchase exams.

Check list when choosing your veterinarian

  1. He or she is very familar with the breed. Different breeds do come with different variabilities plus points and minus.
  2. They understand the riding disapline you are involved in especially if the horse for high level competition.
  3. They are impartial meaning they are not the sellers vet, they have not been treating the horse, they should not have any financial stake in the sale of the horse
  4. The veterinarian you choose works for you, is paid for by you and reports directly to you the buyer.
    As the buyer you own all the rights to the information obtained this includes all findings, radiographic images, or test results. The veterinarian is under no obligation to share the exam results with the seller or agent unless given express permission by the buyer.
  5. They speak your language or you have a mutual language you both understand
  6. They are experienced in PPE exams and have quality x-ray imaging equipment.

When you have your chosen veterinarian then they will give possible dates to carrry out the exam. It is helpful to provide the seller or agent with plenty of notice. These exam take some time to do and proper preparation makes a big difference –

The seller needs to have made the time available with assistance to be available. 2 to 3 people at the exam works well. Also that the they have a suitable area with flat surfaces especially for the flexion tests, lunge on hard ground.


The Exam –


The first part of the exam is the physical where the vet assesses the general health of the horse – weight, coat condition, eyes, teeth the oral cavity for tooth abnormalities, Listen to the heart carefully from both sides of the horse to detect subtle murmurs or arrhythmias, breathing, character, and visable imperfections on the body and legs likes signs of injury or surgrery, medical history and performance history.

The blue book checked with the and the micro chip number confirmed.  UNDERSTAND THE BLUE BOOK

Hooves checked for any signs of lameness – they are examined carefully for integrity and balance and use hoof testers to identify any soreness in the soles

  • Then movement that includes – flexion tests on all 4 legs – have someone available to take video.
    Working on the lunge both reins all 3 gaits on soft ground
    Working on lunge on hard ground walk and trot
    Turning on the forehand on both sides to see the crossover of hind legs to perform the lateral
    movement. Then asking the horse to back up.

All of this part of the exam is noted by the veterinarian and will be presented in a written exam sheet to you along with videos of flexions and lunge work.

Assuming the horse is seen as healthy after this stage, then the veterinarian will move onto x-rays. A regular exam includes 16-18 xrays. Good quality clear xrays are very important and taken form the correct angles and alignments. They can easily be misread with poor quality and angles. This is an important reason to ensure that you appoint an experience veterinarian in ths field.

You can ask for other x rays that are not included in the standard pre purchase exam. There is generally a charge per extra xray say for instance the back and neck. You could for example have up 36 xrays.

If there is a question mark on an x-ray sometimes it is worth having others taken at different angles to gain a more 3 dimensional view of the area. Ultrasound exams can also be used on areas with abnormalities. It is very useful to your veterarian that you are easily available when the exam is taking place. This way your veterinarian can contact you to ask if he or she can take further views or use ultrasound.


Blood Tests

If you are in a country that does not allow horses in with a posiive piroplasmosis test. Part of your exam will need to include a blood test at Bose in Germany for Piro Learn More about this here.

You maybe wise to do the piroplasmosis test in Bose prior to the PPE

You will also need proof of a negative Coggins test before importing. This is only required for breeding horses. Geldings are excempt
You can request A complete blood count and serum chemistry to give some indication of the horse’s overall health.
You can also test for drug use

This of course depends on your budget you can simply go with the 5 stage pre puchase and only do other tests should your veterinarian have a concern or consider it is helpful. If you are insuring your horse the insurance companies generally only require the standard test.


  • Coming Soon Extra requirement for Breeding Animals

If you are purchasing animals for breeding purposes there are special things to consider and is a good idea to talk with your vet carrying out the pre purchase as they may need to call on the asistance of a vet specialising the breeding.

Breeding Mares – They need to be checked out for soundness for breeding.

Tips for the Seller

When you have decided to sell your horse it is a good idea to carry out your own pre purchase exam even if it is simply the physical part. This way you have a clear picture of where you stand and what to expect. It is by far better to be open with prospective buyers, open about the horse´s medical history and character let the buyer know about behaviour problems etc – flaws in your horse does not mean no buyer will not come.

Say for instance something comes up in the flexions or on the lunge your horse is not moving level behind, often it is something you can address. Simple things like –

  • Poor fitting saddle
    Riding style
    Teeth needing attention
    The bit
    Laying down on hard ground or getting cast in the stable
    Unexpected traumas in the field or while ridden for like bad footing after a jump etc.

An investment in a equine osteopath or equine Chiropractic can help hugely in maintaining your horse´s well being. A qualified equine practioner can detect and remedy previously unrecognised areas of restricted movement. They can free up tight areas in the body to enable your horse to move more freely and identify why the problem is occuring.

It is a small investment compared to dissapointments when a horse purchase fails based on something that could have been easily solved.

Keep the dentist visits up to date and recorded along with flu vaccinations and worming.

Don´t be tempted to make big changes right before the Pre Purchase for instance having the horse shod. Sensitivity after shoeing often occurs and can mean your horse shows unsound when in fact it is simply the result of new shoeing.

Be open about any medication the horse is recieving or any interventions in joints etc.

On the day of the exam have two people available to assist the veterinarian and suitable space to carried out the walk and trot ups in straight lines and flexions. Plus an arena for the lunge work. A quiet environment for the Xrays and available power.

If it is a very young horse it really pays dividends if you put in the time to prepare the horse with handling, picking up his feet trotting in hand and standing calmly. This also makes it safer for the vet to do his job.


Once you have conpleted the exams and are eady to complete the purchase the next stage is –

  • The Buying Contract
  • Payment
  • The ownership transfer – This is done with your country association or your country does not have an association then contact the APSL in Portugal.
  • Booking the transport or moving to a trainer

We wish you the very best in your journey and any help we can give please contact us for horse suggestions, vet etc email Us



See list of vetenarians in Portugal

Transport, Understanding Piroplasmosis, The blue book, 

Text by Teresa Burton




How to Identify a Lusitano is Pure Bred

How do you know a Lusitano is pure bred?

Many have made the mistake of assuming the Blue Book defines a Lusitano as a pure bred horse. But this is simply not the case at all. When you are looking to buy a Lusitano horse or start breeding project it is important to understand how the breed is registered and approved.

It is the registration and approval and not the blue book that denotes a pure bred Lusitano horse



The purpose of this book is to act as –

  • A passport for travel nationally and internationally.
  • A way to identify the horse.
  • To keep a record of the required vaccinations.
  • The book must be with the horse at all times.

A cross bred Lusitano can have a blue book and in fact to be exported they have to have one. In Portugal many cross bred Lusitanos have a green book as it is cheaper and quicker to get. However should the owner wish to sell their horse to a buyer outside of the country a blue book must be obtained. To do this a vet needs to visit in order to registered the horse´s chip number, note distinguishing features etc.

The signed paperwork with proof of ownership etc and the payment is submitted to the APSL to issue the blue book. If you are waiting to export your Lusitano sometimes it is possible to pay an extra fee to express this service.

  • Note all vaccines must be update in the blue book for travel.

Registering and Approving a Lusitano

A Lusitano is only classed as a Pure Bred Lusitano if it is registered with the APSL in the adult studbook. Both the parents have to be approved for breeding and registered. However a Lusitano can be registered in the studbook and not approved for breeding.

Note : A foal born, from un-approved and or unregistered parents, will not be accepted. If the parents are registered, but not yet approved after the foal is born, they have a certain amount of time to approve the parents.Should they fail their approval, the foal will not be classed as a purebred but instead as a cross bred.

Blood and DNA

The parents of the horse have to be blood tested and/or have DNA taken, this is done at an approval or when the horse is registered. This ensures all offspring have proof of their parentage. Usually the blood is taken from the foals in the first year to identify them and their parents.

To look up a Lusitano and check he/she is registered as pure bred and is approved for breeding you need to have the following information

  • The full name of the horse
  • The name of the breeder
  • NIN/Chip/UELN

One or all of these will ensure that you can search in the Public access to the Stud Book on the APSL website (

If the horse is registered they will be shown here will their details, date of birth, colour, breeder, owner and bloodlines.

Understanding what defines a cross bred Lusitano

A cross-bred Lusitano can have a couple of meaning –

  • It is actually a Lusitano cross with another breed. There is now a new class of Lusitano which is a ´Luso Warmblood’ (Sport Lusitano) and this is a Lusitano crossed with another sport breed such as a warmblood.
  • It is a Lusitano but one or both of the parents were never approved for breeding. This can happen if one dies before getting to be approved or the owner simply never took the horse for approval or they did and the horse failed to reach the grades required.
  • If the Lusitano has never been registered

When you are buying a Lusitano you can easily check the registration online. The seller and or agent should provide you with all the details you need to check for yourself. If this is not forthcoming then we recommend you look elsewhere for a horse.

CBD oil for horses: what do you need to know

CBD for Horses by Cecilia Leal

Nowadays, products based on Cannabis plant are becoming a popular trend, especially for human medical use. However, what do we know about its use in pets, more specifically, in horses?
The first thing to note on this subject is that there is common misunderstanding between the terms cannabis, marijuana, hemp, CBD and THC, as well as an erroneous perception that CBD oil contains the
(tetra-hydro-cannabinol). Let us start by clarifying thepreviously mentioned terms.

The Plant

Cannabis is an Asian herb of the family Cannabaceae, which comprises two different species: Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Although there are similarities between the two, there are also important differences: Cannabis sativa belongs to the hemp family and has tough fibrous, tall and loose branches, and Cannabis indica is a low-growing densely branched species. Unfortunately, the term is used interchangeably in popular culture with marijuana although strains of cannabis can be either marijuana or hemp depending on their concentration of THC.
Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is legally defined (in the USA and the EU) as any part of the cannabis plant that contains less than or equal to 0.3% THC. Hemp has traditionally been farmed for industrial uses (e.g., textiles, paper, biodiesel, construction materials), as well as for food (hemp seeds and hemp seed oil).

The term Marijuana is typically used for the psychoactive dried resinous flower buds and leaves of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or indica) but can refer to any part of the cannabis plant that contains more than 0.3% of THC (De Briyne et al., 2021).

CBD & THC applications

The Cannabis plant contains hundreds of different active compounds, which have either psychoactive or non-psychoactive effects. The two main components are are THC (tetra-hydro-cannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is a psychoactive component of the cannabis plant that is linked to the ìnebriated` state.

CBD, on the other hand, has been investigated for many conditions, most notably epilepsy, but also including, anxiety, mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, appetite improvement, nausea relief, sleeping disorders, elevated intraocular pressure, pain related to chemotherapy treatments, and multiple sclerosis-related spasticity.

THC is psychotropic in humans and dogs, which have a high number of cannabinoid1 receptors in their brains. CBD, on the other hand, has no psychotropic effects and is particularly effective at low doses.

Studies of CBD effects on horses

In horses, CBD products have shown promise for treatment of hyperaesthesia (Ellis & Contino, 2019), osteoarthritis pain (Sanchez-Aparicio et al., 2019), anti-inflammatory effect in chronic inflammation (Turner et al., 2021), visceral pain, inflammatory processes and changes in intestinal motility in horses (Galiazzoa et al., 2021). Although available objective data regarding therapeutic dosage is still scarce, different dosages have been studied and did not cause adverse effects, like incoordination or sedation, and was overall well tolerated (Yocom et al.; Blanc et al.; Williams et al., 2022).

A study made by Ellis and Contino (2019) reported improvements in a horse with severe pain sensitivity when administered 500 mg CBD per day. Another study reported lower reactivity (spookability) after 6 weeks of supplementing with 100 mg of CBD every day (Draeger et al., 2021). In addition, according to Turner et al. (2021), CBD was responsible for decreased inflammatory cytokines (proteins associated with pain and inflammation), in a study conducted in vitro.

Galiazzoa et al. (2021) performed a study in order to identify the distribution of different cannabinoid receptors in the equine intestine. These findings support CBD use against visceral pain, inflammatory processes and changes in intestinal motility in horses. Therefore, it could have interesting applications in cases of colic, inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal hipomotility after colic surgery.

Is CBD safe to use?

Williams et al. (2022) conducted pharmacokinetics studies looking at the absorption and clearance of CBD. A dose of 175 mg and 1000 mg was given to 500 kg/1100 lb horses, orally, once per day for 7 days. There was no incidence of diarrhea or loose stool, decreased appetite or somnolence recorded.

However, it is important to note that despite the relatively high dose (1000 mg daily) plasma concentrations were below the effective concentrations reported by Turner (2021). Therefore, a horse might need significantly higher oral doses of CBD for any effectiveness against pain and inflammation.

In another study conducted by Yocom et al. (2022), CBD was reliably detected in synovial fluid at 1500 mg single dose. Because cannabinoid receptors have been identified in osteoarthritic joints in humans and dogs it explains the pain modulation mechanism of osteoarthritic pain, in this study mild hypocalcemia was seen in all horses and elevated liver enzymes were observed in 8/12 horses, but these changes improved or normalized within 10 days after the final CBD dose. Some horses presented soft-form manure for a few days and 10/12 gained weight. All horses maintained normal physical examination parameters, attitude, and appetite throughout the duration of the study. No behavioral changes, including sedative-effects, were observed.

Most CBD studies performed on horses are very recent (the latest one dates of 2019) and additional studies are required to investigate the efficacy in treating specific conditions and to establish therapeutic doses.

What is the status of CBD oil use on competition horses?

According to FEI’s regulations, all natural and synthetic cannabinoids containing THC are banned substances, meaning they are not permitted for use on the competition horse at any time. However, cannabidiol (CBD/CBDA) is under controlled substances. According to FEI, controlled medication aresubstances that are deemed by the FEI to have therapeutic value and/or be commonly used in equine medicine. They have the potential to affect performance and/or be a welfare risk to the horse. This means that although your horse may be administered CBD, you cannot compete while it is present in your horse’s organism.

Previous research has indicated that CBD can be detected in urine for up to 72 hours following a single dose. It should also be noted that, despite the considerably low quantity of THC present in CBD products,THC can be present for up to 24 hours post administration in plasma samples (Williams et al., 2022).

By: Cecilia Leal, DVM

Equine Vet Located in Ericeira Portugel (close to Lisbon)  Contact – 00 351 915 010 360

Email –  Facebook Page Equi24

OTHER ARTICLES – Feeding Lusitanos, Shoeing, Piroplasmosis



Blanc M. P. St. , Chapman A. M., Keowen M. L., et al., Effects of a Supplement Containing Cannabidiol
(CBD) on Sedation and Ataxia Scores and Health, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science,
10.1016/j.jevs.2022.104085, 117, (104085), (2022).

De Briyne, N.; Holmes, D.; Sandler, I., et al. Cannabidiol Oils and Tetrahydrocannabinol—What Do Veterinarians Need to Know? Animals 2021, 11, 892. ani11030892.

Draeger A. L., Thomas E. P., Jones K. A., et al., The effects of pelleted cannabidiol supplementation on heart rate and reaction scores in horses. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 2021, Vol 46, 97-100.

Ellis K, Contino E. Treatment using cannabidiol in a horse with mechanical allodynia. Equine Vet Educ 2019; 33:e79–82.

Galiazzoa G., Tagliaviaa C., Giancolaa F., et al., Localisation of Cannabinoid and Cannabinoid-Related Receptors in the Horse Ileum. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 2021, Vol 104, 103688.

Sanchez-Aparicio P., Floran B., Velazquez D. R., et al., Cannabinoids CB2 Receptors, One New Promising Drug Target for Chronic and Degenerative Pain Conditions in Equine Veterinary Patients, Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 2020, Vol 85, 102880.

Turner S, Barker VD, Adams AA. Effects of cannabidiol on the in vitro lymphocyte pro-inflammatory cytokine production of senior horses. J Equine Vet Sci 2021;103:668.

Williams M.R., Holbrook T.C., Maxwell L., et al. Pharmacokinetic evaluation of a cannabidiol supplement for horses. J Equine Vet Sci 2022; 103842.

Yocom A. F., O’Fallon E. S., Gustafson D.L., Contino E. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Synovial Fluid Concentrations of Singleand Multiple-Dose Oral Administration of 1 and 3 mg/kg Cannabidiol in Horses. J Equine Vet Sci 2022, 113, 103933.


The Art of Balance



Text Therese Alhaug Photo Lena Saugen. Made in collaboration with Teresa Burton.


If you watched Rodrigo’s Olympic debut, you might remember how he played his way down the final line holding one hand on the reins. His big smile made it look easy and fun, making us curious to know more about this playfully yet technically solid duo. A chat that led us into The Art of Balance.

EQUILIFE and LUSITANO HERITAGE visited the Olympic debutant at his family farm in Alentejo, Portugal, where Rodrigo began his riding career working the farm cattle and competing in working equitation. A different background than most dressage riders. He early performed at equestrian events, including his favourite performance: riding without reins.

“In Tokyo, just before entering the freestyle, I told Rodrigo to have fun in the ring and reminded him that he was fortunate to have four reins to hold this time!” Rodrigo’s wife, Maria Amaral, says, laughing.

Maria has significantly influenced Rodrigo’s dressage career, being a successful Grand Prix rider herself. The two equally guide each other in the dressage arena.


“Each horse has its natural balance, some more to the front and others more to the hind legs. This is something they are born with. So when you start training the horses, you have to look for this.”

Rodrigo Moura Torres



Rodrigo’s family has bred horses for a long time. They also produced Rodrigo’s Olympic partner, Fogoso.

“I know Fogoso inside out, which helped me a lot when we entered the arena in Tokyo,” Rodrigo says.

One of Rodrigo’s early masters, Mestre Joao Lopes Aleixo, taught him the importance of the seat to have balance and control and to give impulsion from behind; Create harmony with invisible aids. Still today, Rodrigo is working on this.

“When riding 2-3 km outside, moving the horse and the cattle, it requires the horses to be comfortable with me. They need to be straight, in the same rhythm, and very well balanced,” Rodrigo explains. “This is something I have tried to surge since the beginning of my career as a dressage rider.


“When riding 2-3 km outside, moving the horse and the cattle, it requires the horses to be comfortable with me. They need to be straight, in the same rhythm, and very well balanced,” Rodrigo explains. “This is something I have tried to surge since the beginning of my career as a dressage rider.”

Rodrigo Moura Torres

Living in the middle of the countryside, Rodrigo’s father and grandfather used horses to move cattle, giving the horses the genetics to deal with pressure. The first horses were bred for bullfighting and then working equitation, but in the last ten years, they turned their eye to producing dressage horses. Rodrigo still uses his knowledge from the fields when working the youngsters.

“As a breeder, I work the horses since they are young. First, I must find the ideal balance for the horse in all gaits and exercises. I pay notice of this in the lunge already. Each horse has its natural balance, some more to the front and others more to the hind legs. This is something they are born with. So when you start training the horses, you have to look for this,” Rodrigo says, pointing out that each horse is different and has its different rhythm.



“Since Fogoso was four, he could already do everything. I could play with some piaffe and some passage. It was very easy for him because he was very well-balanced. He was already giving me everything, and I just took advantage of these natural things he gave me.”

Rodrigo Moura Torres


We visit the farm on a crisp morning in spring. The horses are grassing in the sunrise on large fields dotted with colourful wildflowers and cork oak trees. A scenery that the family takes advantage of when riding out, allowing the horses to stretch and gallop alongside with the cows and horses in the fields.

Rodrigo’s dad, Carlos, has already started grooming the Olympic hero Fogoso, who’s now 12yo, for Rodrigo to ride.

The powerful stallion demonstrates the dressage evolution in the Torres family’s breeding strategy: a horse that loves competitions and rises to challenges confidently.
“At competitions, Fogoso truly shines. He loves being in the spotlight,” Rodrigo explains.

“Since Fogoso was four, he could already do everything. I could play with some piaffe and some passage. It was very easy for him because he was very well-balanced. He was already giving me everything, and I just took advantage of these natural things he gave me.”

The Lusitano breed is known for their natural talent for passage and piaffe due to their short and powerful physic. Something Rodrigo has in mind when training them.

“When a horse is balanced & strong, and accepting my aids, I can ask nothing, and he will do everything.”


Talking about the breed, how do you implement the German training scale?

“The training scale is logical. I always try to go through the training scale, but when riding, you must feel what you must do at every moment. Sometimes you have to go back a little, then maybe two or three steps forward, then back again etc. Riding is not mechanical. You see; It’s the horses saying to me what I need to do. Not me.”

Rodrigo explains how Lusitanos naturally can be presented earlier to collected exercises.

“Some Lusitanos are already, as a 5-year-old ready for 3-4 steps in piaffe, because it is natural for them. I do this just for the horse to ‘feel it’. I never push them. I rather try to understand exactly what to do at every moment. This is my philosophy. Step by step, I give them more and more tasks, and step by step, they give me more and more in return.”


“When a horse is balanced & strong, and accepting my aids, I can ask nothing, and he will do everything.”

Rodrigo Moura Torres

Rodrigo puts his head up to demonstrate:

“If you see horses move naturally in freedom, they do so many difficult things. And they always keep their head up. So why should I sit on them and put their head down, destroying their natural balance? To make a horse improve, you need to keep him healthy. And for this, we need to understand the difference between the breeds.”

“We cannot go to full extension with a Lusitano when they are young, as this might ruin them. While a Lusitano might play with piaffe as a 5yo, my warmblood started passage when he was 8. So we must keep attention to their natural balance and ask what they have to offer.”


“The rider’s balance will be good if the horse can move in a good balance. You can sit still, and your legs don’t have to push. The horse will move through his back and into your hand.”

Rodrigo Moura Torres


He continues:

“Some Lusitanos can ruin their body if they go big before they are strong and on a higher level. To go forward is one thing but to push is another thing. You simply cannot force something they cannot deliver to you. Approximately 95% of the dressage horses today are warmbloods, so the training scale which is good itself – is based mainly on warmbloods. We need to keep that in mind and foster what they are good at. The things they are not so good at will come naturally when they become stronger
and more confident.”

Talking about balance, how would you describe a rider in balance?

“Many trainers say if the horse goes wrong, the rider is not sitting in a good way. I don’t believe this. The rider’s balance will be good if the horse can move in a good balance. You can sit still, and your legs don’t have to push. The horse will move through his back and into your hand.”


Maria adds:

“You might notice how Rodrigo is moving a bit up or forward when going into halt or piaffe. One of the judges in Tokyo even commented on this, that he fell a bit forward in the exercise, but it’s actually natural for him. He feels it will help the horse, and that in that moment it will loosens his back and support the balance.”


“If I keep the natural balance of the horse and the horse work in harmony, the midpoint is the rider, so I try to keep the center of his balance to where I am sitting. If I sit behind this center, the weight comes too much to the hind legs. The rider needs to be in self-carriage, as I don’t want to destroy the balance of the horse. As an example, the gravity of the pirouette should be where I am sitting.”

“If I keep the natural balance of the horse and the horse work in harmony, the midpoint is the rider, so I try to keep the center of his balance to where I am sitting.”

Rodrigo Moura Torres


Despite their achievements in the ring, the duo is not seen often at bigger shows. Rodrigo explains.

“My main goal is to keep Fogoso healthy and happy so we prefer shows close to home, as we don’t want to push him with travelling. Even as a youngster, we opted to only start competing when he turned 7 years old, and we only do 2-3 bigger competitions a year. The remaining time we keep him in his routine at home doing his normal horse life.”

“The way I see it, show jumping is much more about business, which requires more travelling, while dressage, for many, is not so much about that. It’s more about making a name for yourself and delivering unique performances at the right stages. So we dont want to travel to the other side of the world if we dont have to.”

EQUILIFE visited the Olympic debutant at his family farm in Alentejo, Portugal, where Rodrigo began his riding career working the farm cattle and competing in working equitation.


We want to thank the Torres family for having us over and Lusitano Horsefinder for collaboration with us to make this trip possible.