For my friends in the USA, do you own a Lusitano?

In the USA, many, if not most of the horses now "called" Lusitanos… are not.  They are horses of Lusitano descent that have fallen out of the Portuguese Association of Purebred Lusitano Horse Breeders (APSL) registry, the only registry that has the right and authority to register pure Sangre Lusitanos (PSL).  

But what about the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) breed registration papers, people ask?  Don't they say that the horse is a Lusitano?  The short answer

If one looks very carefully at the IALHA Lusitano registry papers (example below), one will note that the certificate does not use the word Lusitano.  Those registration papers do not register a Lusitano horse!  Look carefully: 

IALHA reg colorphoto.jpg

The documents state: "...Has been entered into the Registry of the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Assocation as a PUREBRED"
See –this certificate DOES NOT REGISTER a Lusitano Horse! 
These registry papers do not use the word Lusitano on them. This is intentional.

IALHA registration certificates only confirm PUREBRED status, not breed status.  For horses only registered with IALHA, the registry certification does not say ANYWHERE that the horse is a Lusitano – only that it is purebred.  Purebred within IALHA means that the horse is an “Andalusian,” as defined by IALHA to mean that it can be pure Spanish or Portuguese descent or a mix of the two. 

There you have it.  The IALHA papers do not confer the breed status of Lusitanos.  That simple.  Do not blame the messenger.  Facts are facts.

Many horses of Lusitano descent are not in the APSL studbook because they did not PASS inspection or were never inspected.  The APSL has strict inspection criteria for all breeding animals. By the protocol (contract) with the APSL and IALHA, these horses that are descendants of non-inspected horses are not to be named Lusitanos and IALHA, as stated above does define that the horse is a Lusitano on their registry papers.

Just the same as any other breed of horse that does not have registry papers, if a horse or a dog is a descendant of a certain breed but is not papered, it is not considered a full-blooded animal. Only PSL horses are Lusitanos, and the IALHA papers prove that.  IALHA papers do not confer the status of a Lusitano.

The fact that people use the IALHA registry papers to confer Lusitano status, can be a bit infuriating for those of us investing time, resources and money to promote, breed, and preserve the Lusitano horse.  Frankly, it is false advertising.  Furthermore, these non APSL horses are diverging more and more away from the APSL breed standard.


The Breed Standard:

The USA does not have an association that promotes the APSL horse.  The IALHA and USEF does not use APSL breed standard in judging horses.  So, what do these organizations use for a breed standard and how is this impacting the public perceptions about the breed?

IALHA joined with United States Equestrian Foundation (USEF) many years ago to create a USEF hybrid breed standard, called "The Andalusian" or sometimes refered to as the Andalusian/Lusitano Breed (see AL101* description in the link below), that lists the same morphology, gaits, and temperament: ergo breed type for both Spanish and Portuguese horses.  This standard can be found in the The USEF Andalusian/Lusitano breed division, section AL102*.

IALHA and USEF promote the idea that Lusitano and Spanish horses are one and the same breed, which they often label as “Andalusian” in the USEF Breed Division.  This is the standard that the IALHA “Lusitano” is judged on at USEF IALHA shows.  To write that this is misleading, confusing and in the end, does a huge disservice to the breed is an understatement.  What is so disillusioning is that USEF has endorsed this breed standard, teaches their judges to this standard and uses this bastard breed standard to judge Lusitanos at both the IALHA shows and the USDF shows, which now have in-hand breed classes.  This has gone on for so many years, people no longer question how it came about or how it can be fixed.

As an example of how this hurts the breed. At an ERAHC show a few years back, there was a large group of APSL Lusitanos being shown under a very senior and experienced APSL judge,.  When these same horses were shown in the USEF classes, the class results were the exact opposite.  The APSL judge was shocked, as was I.  It opened my eyes as to just how large the problem is. 

This Andalusian standard includes statements such as “To be penalized are less than desirable Andalusian traits: … ultra convex nasal profiles. ..Eyes bulging or round, orbital arches protruding. …” versus the APSL breed standard**: “slightly sub-convex profile and upwards curving forehead (over eyebrow bones) huge elliptical, live, expressive confident eyes.”  Note the not so subtle differences between the two standards that are theoretically judging the same horse breed.  This is only one small example of many, where the two standards divulge.

What this duel breed standard has created is a group of people who are breeding and promoting “Lusitanos” to win at USEF breed shows that do not recognize the APSL breed standard.  This isn’t just wrong, it is damaging the breed for future generations in the USA.  It is also damaging the reputation of the Lusitano horse and Lusitano breeders in the USA.

This issue must be addressed, acknowledged and rectified, if the Lusitano breed is to become recognized for its unique breed type, athleticism and potential in the USA. To speak frankly, the IALHA has created a breed type that has diverged from the PSL. 

How to fix this long-standing problem?  I honestly do not have all the answers.  The problem is long standing, involves large equestrian organizations, including the USEF and IALHA.

However, the first step is public awareness.  To make people aware exactly what is written on that IALHA pedigree registration, which is that they own a purebred animal –as defined by IALHA.  That the word "Lusitano" is not used to define the horse's breed on the registry papers. The papers DO NOT confer Lusitano registry.  To register a Lusitano horse in the USA, one must get IALHA registration papers and then apply to be in the APSL studbook through IALHA.  Furthermore, an owner can not register progeny until the adult horse has undergone an inspection by a APSL judge.  In future blogs, I plan to write about positive ideas to educate the public to what is and is not a Lusitano.

Furthermore, I suggest, as many have before me, that it is past time for the formation of a trade organization or breed society focused on the PSL horse. I welcome people to reach out to me, if you are interested in forming such an organization.  The time is now.


Documents can be found at:

USEF/IALHA Andalusian Breed standard (which includes Lusitanos)

** APSL Breed Standard

Jill Malone