Monday, May. 27, 2024

Lighted Lusitanos Thrill The Crowd

Nearly 12,000 fans crowded into the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on April 21 to see the best dressage horses in the world, but they got an extra treat at intermission with the fantastic display of a lighted horse Lusitano quadrille.

The lights went out and all the audience could see was the lighted hooves, mane and tails of these impressive horses.  But this was more than a circus performance.  These fiery little stallions, trained by Portuguese master Joao Oliveira, displayed the Grand Prix dressage movements and acted as ambassadors for their breed.

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Nearly 12,000 fans crowded into the Thomas and Mack Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. on April 21 to see the best dressage horses in the world, but they got an extra treat at intermission with the fantastic display of a lighted horse Lusitano quadrille.

The lights went out and all the audience could see was the lighted hooves, mane and tails of these impressive horses.  But this was more than a circus performance.  These fiery little stallions, trained by Portuguese master Joao Oliveira, displayed the Grand Prix dressage movements and acted as ambassadors for their breed.

The lighted Lusitanos performed at the last World Cup in Las Vegas as well, but this ride was a very special one as Oliveira, son of the famous Nuno Oliveira, is very sick with lung cancer.  His wife Rebecca wanted to do this performance as a tribute to him, and so she coordinated with Linda Alexander Walton, who provided the horses, to make it happen.

Walton came to Lusitanos after her own illness left her feeling weak.  “I met Joao, and he offered to let me ride a Lusitano that he had.  I just fell in love with them,” she said.  “I felt they were a little bit easier to sit and didn’t take quite as much energy to ride because they’re very forward horses.”

Walton then went to Brazil and came home with Frederico Alegria’s Pensamento.  “Then we decided to import some more for sale,” she said.  “It’s really hard because I always fall in love with them, and then I don’t want to sell them.”

All four horses in the lighted horse performance come from Alexander’s Brookside Lusitanos in Walnut, Calif.  The two youngest, Vittorio and Unitario are just six.  Jeanne Brown owns Unitario.  Trinco is a 7-year-old, and Pensamento is 11.  He was featured on the cover of Dressage Today with Guenter Seidel.

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“They’re very willing to work and are built to do piaffe, passage and the lateral work,” said Walton.  “When you come out with them, they ask, ‘What do you want me to do?’  It’s a real treat for me.  To have a horse that has the energy for piaffe without using so much leg and hand, it’s really fun.  I think it’s really beautiful to see these horses on a loose rein doing a piaffe gladly.”

The Lusitanos also performed in a Pas de Trois on April 19 at the World Cup.  The riders wore traditional Portuguese Costume and showed off Grand Prix movements, as well as the Spanish Walk.

“I think in the Pas de Trois people could see that the horses could do the movements and extend,” said Walton.  “They’re smaller and their movement is not as amazing when the best dressage horses in the world are here.  But I think they proved they can do the movements, and they can do them willingly at a young age without trauma and with light aids.”

Walton, who is more comfortable in the show ring, didn’t want to ride in the performance, but she was excited to see her horses participate.  “I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said.  “We wanted to do the lighted horses again, but we didn’t have the lights.  So my son-in-law, who is an engineer, took the broken pieces that we had leftover and made the lights for the horses.  We got the riders, got the costumes, bought the ribbon, and just tried to really get it together.”

  

 

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