Luís Bastos started his stud farm with the desire to produce pure bred sport Lusitanos that retain the true qualities of the Lusitano Breed, the characteristics that make this ancient breed stand out. Luís firmly believes that the pure bred Lusitano can still be explored within the breeding lines to produce top dressage horses.
Achieving the Dream breeding Lusitanos
He is proving this to be true, he is producing quality young horses that are both sportive and have the qualities we all love about the breed. The stud farm’s youngstock are regularly claiming titles and championships in model and gaits classes – they have won many medals especially Gold, the stud has been best breeder more than once and achieved Champion of Champions with their young stock. What’s more the Stud’s key Stallion is competing very successfully in dressage competition with very good scores. The studs youngstock is being sought after around the world.
In discussion with Luís I was keen to learn more about how he makes his breeding choices and his vision for the future.
Luís tell us how you select your Lusitano mares for breeding?
“The most important characteristics I look for to match my breeding profile is good locomotion. I analysis the three gaits not only looking at how they place the hoof during the range of the movements but on the hind leg ability to push forward. They must have very good limbs, be upright, I am not worried about the bone, more that they have to be upright, standing correctly with hind legs under them. I like to see a good shoulder, that they are up hill and can achieve good suspension. Good elasticity, a strong back and a good connection to the loin and of course good character”.
I always begin by looking to the engine –
The hind quarters and legs – they must be able to push well from behind.
I am very fortunate to have a breeding stallion and mares that have these characteristics. Particularly my stallion Escorial he is very successfully transmitting these qualities to his off spring.
Many claim that a ‘Good Dressage Lusitano’ which is my main breeding aim is difficult to produce with the traditional morphology of the breed. I do not agree with this at all.
“I believe it is very possible to create typical pure breed Lusitanos that at the same time are excellent riding horses and are capable of achieving great success in dressage competition – even in top international competition”.
These days you will see that the breeders of German horses are seeking to produce horses no more than 170cms and horses with better ability to collect. In the breeding of Lusitanos now you can produce horses between 1.65 and 1.70cms. This is my aim in my young stock breeding.
The Breeding Mares
My Lusitano mares have a lot of Agareno blood, (One of the ‘The heads of Lineage‘) in fact I have four mares that are fully Agareno, meaning they have a lot of Veiga blood. I also have a mixture of other horses, all of them with top bloodlines.
They are not all highly punctuated mares, nor are they particularly showy, but they are mares with excellent characteristics. All the mares have a very high consanguinity which doesn’t make them very tall but when they are inseminated with stallions from other bloodlines they give tall foals. I have 7 or 8 Lusitano mares right now that are consistently producing off spring with the qualities I listed earlier. I am delighted with this as for my project aims this is an extremely important element.
Breeding Evolution with Homebred Mares
I have now started breeding with mares that are daughters of my stallion Escorial which is very exciting for us. I have a firm policy to only ever have 10 mares breeding at any one time. Because of this policy my mare selection is extremely thorough. Keeping to a small number it is easier to monitor and maintain the quality of the foals. It is vital that I don’t lose control over this.
I firmly believe it’s possible to produce very typical Lusitano horses with a great aptitude for dressage –
I want horses that from 50 yards away you can identify perfectly well that they are Lusitanos and what’s more they are excelling in dressage. The proof is in my stallion Escorial, who is currently competing in France with the Portuguese rider Carlos Pinto. He is already performing dressage tests with some PSG exercises and achieving scores around 73%, when you look at Escorial you will see that he is a very typical Lusitano Horse.
Escorial was the Champion of Champions in model and gaits. He is a horse that has all the features that I find fundamental for a good dressage Lusitano. He is a horse that pushes from behind really well, that’s always moving under mass, he has a fantastic shoulder and he has a good loin and he swings the back very well.
The Lusitanos I am producing are horses with some blood, so they may not suit every rider. These Lusitanos are athletes with a lot of power so they require the right amount of work to match. Currently I am developing fantastic new modern facilities that will reflect their requirements – for instance I have 23 boxes, all of which are a minimum of 4 metres by 3 metres. My Lusitanos are horses that cannot be left standing still they must have room to move, to jump around. They are horses with a lot of blood – (Raca as in Lusitano Breed).
In the past Lusitanos were predominately grey (80% and the remaining 20% bay and some other colours) these days the balance has changed dramatically. What are your thoughts about colour in the breed?
I think the colour is important but certainly not fundamental. If you have a choice then great, I personally prefer a horse with colour, but I will always place quality over colour, in my opinion it’s simply the icing on the cake to have the colour you want. In a showing or dressage arena many think a coloured horse is much more eye catching than a grey horse.
Model and Gaits Competitions
You show your young stock at the breed show and Golega each year what are your reasons and thoughts on this.
There are many people against model and gaits competitions, however I am of the opinion that these shows are very important. This is because model and gaits events are usually the first opportunity for your youngsters to be shown to others, you can compare your young stock and have experienced third parties confirm how you are performing in your breeding programme.
The Lusitano judges are looking for beauty and the vital characteristics befitting a true Lusitano and the modern Lusitano, as I said earlier – good locomotion, hind leg, rib cage, shoulder , a good back and good character – these features define a quality riding horse.
All the colts and fillies I select to be shown in the model and gaits competitions are prepared in a very careful manner, it’s vital to me to prevent all types of injuries that are connected with these competitions. You must never over stretch the young horse or put too much intensity or repetition into preparing them, their limbs are still growing. I believe you only really see if a horse is truly good or not when it is ridden however the young stocks competitions provide us with official conformation we are on the right line for future riding horses.
Why Competitions are Good
I enter these competitions to confirm my breeding programme. Of course sometimes there are judges that hold different views to my own but I totally respect this and their decisions. If a situation occurs that I don’t agree with or understand I do ask for feedback I think it is healthy to have this kind of dialogue and to understand others view points. For example I had a 2 year old colt placed in third place and not awarded a medal I didn’t understand the decision so asked the judges. They explained it to me and although I may still hold my own opinion I do fully accept and respect their decision. The judges decision is final and important to me.
I am very happy to have already achieved as a fairly new breeder many awards with my young stock. Receiving these awards and most importantly the conformation that my young horses are still retaining the typical aspects of the Lusitano – which I believe are so important to preserve in our modern horses really motivates me to do even better and keep on my path.
We Are Committed to Producing
Modern Sport Lusitanos with Timeless Quality!
Thank you Luís – Interview by Teresa Burton, Images by Bruno Barata