The Lusitano: Same Horse, Different Name
(to see a picture of a Lusitano, please go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusitano)
“…And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
Although cave paintings in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal and Spain) have revealed the presence of horses there for thousands of years, the Lusitano from Portugal is one of the breeds “officially created” in recent time. The registry name of this breed is Puro Sangue Lusitano (Pure´oh San´gwee Lou sah tan´ oh), the Latin name for Portugal. But he’s also known as the Portuguese, Peninsular, National, or Betico-lusitano horse. What’s quite strange about the Lusitano is he originated as an Andalusian. A Portuguese Andalusian.
The Andalusians have their roots back to 711 A.D. when the Muslim Moors invaded the Iberian Peninsula and brought Barb horses with them. The Moors crossbred their steeds with the native horses and developed an equine useful for war, bull fighting, and even dressage. This new horse became a favorite of the Conquistadors, who introduced him in the Americas between the 16th to the 18th Centuries. Known as “the Iberian war horse,” that ancestor of the Lusitano served in battle as well as at important riding academies throughout Europe.
The Portuguese Andalusian and the Spanish Andalusian have had very similar characteristics for hundreds of years. However, in 1966, the Portuguese breeders wanted to develop their own horse, an even more nimble yet strong equine with the ability to move quickly around a charging bull in the bullfighting ring. (In Portuguese bullfighting, the bull is not killed.) Thus, the breeders split the Portuguese and Spanish stud books of the Andalusians, and the Portuguese one became known as the Lusitano, after the word “Lusitania,” the ancient Roman name for Portugal.
The Lusitano horses’ heights range from 15 to 15.3 hands. They can be any solid color including black, dun, and palomino but are usually gray, chestnut, or bay. They have a Roman nose, which is stouter than a more refined “dish face” you see on breeds like the Arabian. Because of the heavy work they’re called to do, the Lusitanos have great muscle strength and agility; yet, they’re intelligent and very willing to please.
Today’s Lusitanos are very versatile. They’ve built quite a reputation for dressage, winning medals in several Olympics and World Equestrian Games over the last few years as part of Portuguese and Spanish dressage teams. They also have done well in driving competitions with a Belgian team of Lusitanos winning many international awards.
The breed is still used in bloodless bullfighting today, where it is expected that neither horse nor bull will be injured. Horses bred for this sport must be agile and calm, and when confronted by the bull, they must “keep their head.” Much of the horse’s and rider’s safety depends on the skill of the horse and his ability to avoid the charging bull. In fact, it’s considered a disgrace to the rider if the horse is injured in any way.
Today Lusitanos are found mostly in Portugal and Brazil, but they can be found in many other countries including Australia, Great Britain, South Africa, some European countries, and the U.S. Between 1980 and 1987, Lusitanos were even used for breeding Colorado Ranger horses, but today those crosses are no longer allowed by the breed registry.
With the popularity of this breed worldwide just in recent years, we should not forget his roots. Andalusian. Thanks to Portuguese horse enthusiasts, the Portuguese Andalusian breed, now called the Lusitano, became stronger and more nimble. What we now have is the same but improved horse with a different name!
Do you realize that people sometimes change their names for different reasons? God also has a special name for those who decide to love and serve Him. The Bible says that, although we might appear to be the same on the outside, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we become “improved” on the inside, and we are then called Christians. Being improved means we now have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and He helps us to do what’s right and to say no to sin.
Have you asked Jesus to save you and make you ready for heaven? If so, do your family and friends call you a Christian? If you honor the Lord Jesus by your attitude and actions, then you’ll be known as a Christ follower or a Christian.
PRAYER: Dear God, help me to have the right attitude and actions so that my family and friends will have no trouble calling me a Christian. In Jesus’ name, amen.
SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)
Besides the name “Christian,” think of a few other names you’d like to be called (Example: “kind,” “friendly”). Do your attitude and actions merit those names?
Take your ride: (Do you know?) The bond between early Iberian people and their horses was so strong, it’s believed the original fables about the centaur (half man/half horse creature) originated in the Iberian Peninsula.
Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19b).
Christmas is right around the corner. Buy some horse books now for that horse crazy person in your life.