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Since the Iberian Peninsula was virtually cut off from any outside influences, due to the nature of its geography, their approach to riding, the gineta style, remained unchanged for ages. The Roman practice of tauromachy, continued to flourish in the regions of Portugal and Spain long after the decline of the Roman Empire. Unlike the original barbaric Roman spectacle, however, which took the form of a virtual free for all, bullfighting came to be governed by a formal code of conduct and held with much respect in these regions. The most indispensible necessity for this performance to be considered an art form wasa spirited fiery combat horse whose courage, agility, and obedience could be relied upon in the face of danger. It was these qualities that took precedence in the breeding of the Iberian horse. The second consequence that occurred due to this practice, although inadvertently, is the appreciation and development for the schooling of horse and rider. Since a bull’s horns could be deadly, collected control was imperative and precise school or ring movements grew up around the practice of tauromachy to become an integral part of the regions horsemanship. Later to be used as a doctrine for the training of a warhorse, bullfighting established the principles of dressage.

The art of mounted bullfighting, also known as The Art of Marialva after the 4thMarquess of Marialva’s influence in this discipline, is said to be the origin of racial differences between the Lusitano and it’s ancestor, the Iberian horse. In the 18th century, King Carlos III of Spain prohibited bullfighting, something that did not occur in Portugal. The selection of the Purebred Lusitano thereafter was oriented towards their usefulness in the bullrings, while in Spain, the prohibition of bullfights caused the Purebred Spanish horse to lack functionality in that respect.

Modern day rejoneo, as is traditionally called, is more akin to grand prix dressage schooling than ever before. The precision, concentration, and artistic expression needed for this discipline requires years of training for horse and rider. With the exception of a few rare crossbreeds, most all horses used for this discipline are Purebred Lusitanos, for it is evident that their disposition to excel in the face of danger is surpassed by none.

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