Interviews with Lusitano breeders, dressage and working equitation riders, teachers and people deeply involved in teh world of Lusitanos and the heritage.

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




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.




Laura Gosch – One to Watch!

Beautiful, Talented & Determined – Laura Gosch

Recently we had the wonderful opportunity to be present at the opening of Goncalo and Nara´s new equestrian facility. It was a busy but beautiful day in so many ways.

Working alongside them is Laura Gosch, a talented and focussed woman who has boldy gone in the direction of her passion for all things equine.

As a former International model we were very fortunate that Laura generously agreed to pose for us on the day in the extraodinary equestrian clothing collection designed by Silvia Teixeira. Bringing her combined model expertise and undesputible riding skills Laura inspired us a lot.

Laura rides beautifully and is definitely a lady to watch for the future as a great trainer and teacher.

Curious, I asked Laura for her story,  which she very eloquently wrote for me.  It takes us right from how she discovered horses all the way up to this moment. It´s a lovely read that I am sure many of you can identify with – so here you go

All about Laura …………


I’m from Vienna, smack in the centre of town. The tourist carriage horses at the cathedral were the only horses in sight, growing up. As a young man my father had spent a couple of years as an “Elève” at the Spanish Royal Riding School, but neither of my parents had anything to do with horses by the time they had me.

A friend of my mom’s had told her that she took her daughter horse riding because she thought it was an advantage, especially for girls, to learn to handle such big animals and and themselves around them. That seemed logical to my Mom and so I had my first lesson. I think I even remember it. Mom says I was glowing – I remember that I was almost drooling with joy. From then on it was the pony on the top of every Christmas list, endlessly trying to persuade my grandparents that their apartment was big enough for a horse. Lungeing my girlfriends over obstacles on their imaginary ponies and, in my mind, every walk in nature was actually a hack .

I’m very grateful that I discovered such a love, a passion for something as a child. The joy was so intense, it warms my heart to remember those little moments and it’s pure fuel for me until today.

Over the next years, my champion parents continued taking me for riding lessons. When I was about 13 or 14, I began taking the train every Saturday after school, with my overnight bag packed, to help at an Arabian horse farm about 1 1/2 hours outside of Vienna. They allowed me to start my first filly there, at which I did a very poor job but this is where I actually began really learning.

Besides school, at 17 yrs old I was fortunate to be professionally modelling. I used the money I earnt to turn my dream into a reality. Mom became my accomplice and the two of us set out on an unforgettable trip around Europe, the adventure culminated in finding my Arabian filly. Chestnut, with a beautiful long neck and flaxen manes, just like I knew her from my dreams. That filly became a part of our family, she kept us both safe through all the silly things I put her through. She traveled half of Europe with me and finally to Mallorca where she currently resides at 22 years of age until I can have her with me again. Buying my first horse was one of the most important things I did in my life. Learning I am capable of taking what seemed “impossible” and turn it into reality. A powerful lesson and I think it has become an important part of me.

After finishing school I moved to Paris and started modelling full time. Up to 2015 I lived and worked in many different cities. I was ambitious, young and thought I needed to rule the world or, at least, be a rockstar. The modelling was alluring in more than one way. Whenever I got too lonely, sad or intimidated I came back to the horses.

With my best friend, we started an Arabian show horse training barn. I learned so much about handling young horses. I also spent some time learning on the ranch of Linda and Pat Parelli – one of the happiest times of my life – they were pioneers in horse & people education.

Fast forward to 2015 – I was living in LA at that time and loved the city. Working with great people, things were going well. Yet I wasn’t fulfilled with my job my passion was elsewhere. One day, while having lunch with a friend, the subject turned to horses. He waited until I had finished my ode and said,

“You completely change when you talk about horses, I think this is what you should be doing”.

A few days later, my best friend was extremely clear about this too.

It was time and I was ready to really hear it. I worked up the courage to consider the possibility of living my dream full time with horses.

I had my mare at german classical trainer Anja Beran at the time and I think that’s where the idea of the Lusitano was born.

Curious to learn more about the breed I took an amazing trip around Portugal to visit the breeders, I was totally inspired.  I bought two three year old colts from Mr. Manuel Veiga, still with the idea of returning to LA and eventually selling one of them. However in the end I decided to move back to Belgium to keep them both.

In November 2015 I shot my last editorial, with an amazing crew for Harper’s Bazaar. It was a breathtaking trip around Jordan. A fabulous exit from the model´s life.

Then the journey began with my two colts. Getting to know them in Belgium, then with Parelli instructor and all-round horseman Walter Gegenschatz in Switzerland, back in Belgium with a Master instructor of the École de Légèreté and later in France with Mr. Philippe Karl himself and his wife Bea Borelle. After that the three of us joined my partner Sergio Santos in Mallorca for 3 years, where I started teaching and training an amazing group of clients that became friends. Although I learned immensly while teaching and training, I was missing getting training myself – and my two darling Veigas were always happy to point that out to me.

I remembered Gonçalo Linhas exceptional riding from my horse “shopping trip” and my inquiries about him got a unanimously positive response – a rare occurrence. I brought him my best horse to get a foot in the door, and as soon as it was possible, almost a year ago, I attacked lovely Dr. Nara França and Gonçalo with the rest of our gang (Historico da Broa, our cremello stallion, Jarama and Sérgio’s Silveiras stallion, Habil). We, have been living in their barn ever since, located in the pulsating metropole that is Vila Chã de Ourique.

I’m still trying to find my place in this horse world but here I’m learning at top speed. I want to continue developing horses with the support of an experienced (not to call him senior, he wouldn’t like that) trainer like Gonçalo. I believe that being around horses, in the right conditions, can be so good for people. Whatever I do, be it in the arena or by selling horses, on the social media or by writing these few lines, I hope to help make the equestrian community grow by introducing more people to horses and supporting my fellow equestrians.

These animals are a little bit magic. You can rely on them to keep you humble, toughen you up and sometimes, if you put in the work, they will dance with you for a short while and make you so happy that you forget yourself.

Forward by Teresa Burton Lusitano Heritage

Text by Laura Gosch She can be found on facebook and Intagram

Clothing – Designed by Silvia Teixeira – Garments available to order in our online shop

Images by Lena Saugen Photography

Location –  Quinta do Palhão

Thank you to Goncalo Linhas and Nara Franca





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

Very Recent Evolution of the Lusitano

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


Lusitano Dressage Horses For Sale

For Dressage Rankings check FEI





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.

João 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.

Making the Commitment to International Competition

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.


A flexible and Varied Training Programme Makes a Happy Horse

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

Looking for a Lusitano for Dressage we always have a slecetion of high quality Lusitanos for sale check out whats on offer


Keep up to date with teh World Dressage Rankings at FEI


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.

Starting the Stud Farm

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

Keep up to date with the World Dressage Rankings at FEI


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.

Impressive Family

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 Shinning

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

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