Lusitano Horses on the Tejo River in Portugal

On our last day in Portugal we took the train from Lisbon to a small town named Azambuja where we were taken to a horse breeding farm called Quinta da Henrique Abecasis. We met the owner, Tiago, son of the founder, and we went for a trail ride in the mountains on mares raised on the farm, led by his delightful trainer, Edgar. We were in the area called the Ribatejo (above the Tejo river). We rode to a high point to see far out over the valley, over vineyards, pine forests,olive groves, rice fields, alfalfa Meadows, and pastures. We saw the famous cork oaks where the bark had been stripped off to make cork products. After our Trail ride we were treated to a savoury country meal in a Quinta that was so ancient it had to be there when Moby Dick was a minnow. The soup and meat and vegetables were fantastic, to say nothing of the local wine. Then, we were taken for a tour of a local ranch which raised fighting bulls. Oddly enough, the pastures were reminiscent of west Texas, and the bulls and cattle looked a lot like our black Corrientes back in Texas!After the tour, our host or squired us around his breeding operation, where exceptional Lusitano stallions are used to produce colts and fillies who are primarily marketed in the dressage world as Prix de St. George prospects. The concepts and daily activities of this horse ranch are as modern as any university reproductive physiology department, and his nutrition program is monitored daily, to produce big, well conformed solidly made Lusitano horses that would make an Olympic hopeful salivate! The combination of ancient and modern which exist side-by-side was a constant source of wonder to me. Buildings that may have been built before Columbus sailed, held horses that could easily be the participants in the next world equestrian games. We came away from the experience in awe of the science and foresight of these Portuguese breeders!

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