Gala of Iberian Horsemanship

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The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art of Lisbon who will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary, performed together with the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art of Jerez this past Friday the 13th.

By Candela CG Photography

The performance was part of the programme of the city of Jerez as this years European Capital of the Horse. It is rare to see any of the four Schools of Equestrian Art perform together. All four schools together have only performed together twice, in 2007 and 2012 in Paris. Jerez and Saumur performed together in 2010 and Jerez and Lisbon performed together also in January of this year.

The performance comes with the establishment of a collaborative agreement between the two schools to promote and develop further equestrian opportunities between them, but the union between the two schools has existed since before their founding years of 1973 and 1979. A union that was established by the two founding directors of the schools along with their small group of riders. Some of the riders from that first group of the school of Portugal are still present at the school today. 

The Schools as they are known today are the result of the tireless efforts of those few riders at its beginnings from both countries that knew how to execute high school equitation performed by the royal courts. They worked to ensure that these, the highest ideals of horsemanship known, that originated in their countries, survived. Those efforts of that union was reflected by their horses.  The stables of the Andalusian Riding School in Jerez bare the names of some of the horses that resulted from that collaboration. The Spanish Stallion ‘Valeroso’ was trained by the founding director of the Portuguese School. The horse ‘Garboso’ who was the first horse to perform the long reins in the Spanish School in Jerez, came from Portugal. 

The performance programme featured the most distinguished numbers from both schools such as the horse driven carriages of Jerez and Doma Vaquera, the Picaria Real from Portugal and the games of the court with the riders dressed in Federica attire. The programme featured 3 joint performance of the two schools a ‘Pas de Quatre’ with a pair of riders from both schools, long reins and a carrousel featuring six horses of both schools. 

In William Shakespeare’s play Henry the IV he depicts a vision of a man riding, quoting, “He Vaulted with such ease into his seat, as if an angel dropped down form the clouds, to turn and wind a fiery Pegasus, and witch the world with noble Horsemanship.” That very description is what any rider of this form of horsemanship should transmit. A description of a presentation of a rider that represents the most important equestrian scriptures. Same as the Spanish Riding School of Vienna and the Cadre Noir of Saumur follow the Equestrian writings of Xenophon and La Guerinierè. Portugal preserves and instructs their equestrian practices on what is considered the Equestrian treaty of Portugal. ‘The Noble art of Horsemanship’ written by the Marquis of Marialva. An approach to their horses that is calm, soft, yet effective, with a stillness and ease in the riding seat, and aids that are scarcely visible. Because of this their work is accurate and the move through transitions is ever fluid, perfectly reflecting Shakespeare’s description. 

The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art in Lisbon has come a long way since its beginnings 40 years ago. Their first base at the Palace of Queluz which accommodates all visiting heads of state including the Queen of England, former US President Ronald Reagen, and most recently the King of Spain have all enjoyed performances by the School at this Palace. Still maintaining horses at their original home, the School recently opened a second establishment at the Picadeiro Henrique Calado in the Centre of Lisbon. Just a few blocks from the Royal Riding Hall that was the original home of this art of horsemanship many centuries ago. 


Therese Stub Alhaug
Therese Stub Alhaug


Therese is the editor of Equilife, and is truly dedicated to equestrian sports and horses. She started riding as a little girl, and enjoys her free time with her two horses back home. Portrait interview is her favorite topic, as it has the gift to inspire others through peoples stories, knowledge, training and general life-philosophy, and certainly, their lives with horses.

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