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LD BREEDING PHILOSOPHY
At La Donaira we seek to select a sportive Lusitano type prepared to compete in classical dressage and working equitation. Disciplines that suit the inherent traits of the breed, their magic presence and beauty, their willingness to learn and their great intelligence, agility and stamina.
During the initial 10 years of our breeding program we have included all important bloodlines in the APSL studbook. Following our strictly functional selection objectives, we have slowly built up a core stock of breeding mares. Notable influences are the Brazilian lines of Tonico Pereira (Afiancado de Flandes/Ufano II, select CN) , the male line of the extraordinary Brazilian mare Cenoura (Solar, Peralta, Vulcao), Alter Real through the skilled hands of Felipe Graciosa and Teresa Cadaval (Nabuco/Teimosa) and Rubi. The important Hostil line through Soberano and Riopele, Quina via our double Quieta mare Iberia and finally Roger Bouzin’s Priam a full brother of Orphee, the first Lusitano ever to participate in an Olympic dressage competition.
We are going confidently into the second decade of our breeding history with a carefully selected group of ten La Donaira born and raised mares that are now aged 4 to 10 years. They form a strong and varied genetic foundation on our way forward, accompanying Lusitano history into the 21st century.
LD CARE MANAGEMENT
Raising Lusitanos in the realm of La Donaira has become an ongoing research to create the most natural conditions for horses to live and work alongside humans.
Given the extreme sensitivity of horses and their phenomenal memories a gentle starting process from birth through to saddling paired with a zero-trauma policy is firmly established in our protocol.
Currently 80 Lusitanos are living on the farm, divided in several groups across the 700 ha of mountaineous forests and grasslands.
Our foals are born in the wild without any human intervention. The mare herd is all year round outdoors, taking part in the grazing rotation with other animals like our 300 sheep, cows, goats and chicken.
During the first days of their lives all foals have their initial human contact. They are welcomed by Seamus and Pauline with some gentle handling and imprinting.
LD BREEDING PHILOSOPHY
Weaning takes place around 6-8 months at the stables in groups of 3 to 4 to minimize shock and alienation. The foals stay in a group at the stables for a couple of days with continued subtle handling like leading and tying up, before they join their future field group. Colts join the stallion herd which occupies a west facing mountainside all year round. The fillies get to join one of our two female and gelding herds.
Mares stay in the wild for the rest of their lives, retired breeding mares stay on the farm as well to live out their days in the natural habitat.
Both fillies and colts are handled gently throughout their adolescence – from 6 months to 4 years, in mobile round pens, according to their age.
From 3 1/2 years we start some more technical freedom and in hand training until we finally start riding at age 4.
In the stables we try to keep stallions in outdoor paddocks in pairs so as to continue providing to their basic behavioural requirements. Riding mares are kept in herds as well, the indoor single stable boxers are used only over night and for quarantene or treatment purposes.
We continuously improve and innovate our methodology collaborating with experts in the fields of nutrition (Coby Bolger), equine etology (Lucy Rees), grazing rotation (Alan Savory/Kirk Gadzia), barefoot trimming (Constantino Sánchez) and natural horsemanship (Seamus Gaffney/Lucy Rees).