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
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