Portuguese Dressage Riders crack the 80% barrier!
By Teresa Burton. Images of Maria Caetano Couceiro with Coroado AR, Fenix and Hit Plus excluding competition images by https://www.sandragrafie.de
Last year four riders took Portugal to the next level in International Dressage – they won a team place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is not the first time Portugal has competed, with great riders such as Miguel Ralão, Daniel Pinto and Carlos Pinto competing as individuals (know as a composed team) in Beijing 2008, Gonçalo Carvalho as a single entry in London 2012 and in 1948 London three riders won the bronze medal.
This, however, 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 purebred stallions.
“Lusitanos are now ranked 7th in the WBFSH FEI stud of horse breeds for dressage competition.”
Interesting Fact – 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 Lusitano breed 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.
The qualifying riders and horses are Maria Caetano Couceiro on Coroado, Rodrigo Moura Torres on Fogoso, João Torrãoon Equador and Duarte Nogueira on Beirao.
In 1954 Roger Bannister smashed the 4 minute mile which led to 4 more achieving the same within a year. How many riders inspired by Maria and Coroado´s achievements will score over 80% in the next years on their Lusitanos !! The flood gates of belief are officially open. It’s certainly an exciting future for the breed.
Quote taken from an interview with Carl Hester who has been working with João Torrãoon Lusitano 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 and they have the potential to achieve a place in the top 10 world rankings”.
I talked with the riders to learn more about their journey and their future plans.
Maria Caetano, now living in Germany, grew up on her family farm in the Alentejo where they breed Lusitanos and cattle. She is a dynamic young women that can literally ride in an International Competition or gallop across fields working the cattle.
She has been riding since before she could walk in fact she told me she doesn’t remember the first time she saton a horseas since she was a baby she wason a horse’s back with her father. But her first profound memory was thetime sherode a horse by herselfin the Golegã Lusitanofair at just 5 years old.
In the early days she trained mostly with her father Paulo Caetano, who has with her mother Dita Moura Caetano been by her side throughout her career. Paulo in fact has had an outstanding career himself educating Lusitanos and riders originally for bullfighting and now dressage. He has taught several young riders to International level, including Giovana Pass who competed at only 19 years old on Lusitano Zingaro de Lyw in Rio 2016 for the Brazilian team.
I have known Maria for several years and from the first
Maria’s move to Germany, although difficult being away from her home and family, has been a really successful decision, placing her much closer to the big competitions and the opportunity to be with many of the best dressage riders in the World. She also started training with the renowned Ton De Ridderwhich is fine tuning her riding and competition skills.
The Lusitano Stallion,
She went onto to tell me she feels very blessed to have a super supportive, professional team around her right down to her dog Alfonso – who loves to sit upon Coroado´s back. It is very exciting to watch Maria´s career grow in leaps and bounds.
Fenix de Tineo (Lusitano) owned YEGUADA FINCA TINEO, LDAlike Coroado is by Rubi AR. Fenix has started competed Big Tour scoring 68,8% and 72,6%at his second outing he is showing huge promise for the future.
Hit Plus (cross bred Lusitano) owned by Rui Oliveira Oliveira and bred by Dressage Plus debuted in Small Tour this March scoring an excellent 69%. Another horse to watch for the future.
Maria is currently ranked 38th in the FEI World dressage rankings.
Text By Teresa Burton www.lusitanohorsefinder.com