Alter-Real A fine spirited riding horse with extravagant paces, standing 15 - 15.2 h.h.. Though it is an offshoot from the Lusitano horse, it is always bay, brown or black in colour. The highly strung temperament makes it unsuitable for the average rider. The Portuguese army provide the careful handling needed for this horse. In its native Portugal it has a long and honourable history in haute ecole.
Though the original stud was founded by The House of Braganza at Ville de Portei in 1748 using Andalusian mares from Jerez in Spain, the breed takes its name from the town of Alter do Chao in the Portuguese province of Alentejo, where it moved in around 1756. "Real" meaning royal in Portuguese. The royal stud supplied the royal manege in Lisbon with high school and carriage horses.
During the Peninsula War the breed suffered serious set backs and went into decline. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to resurrect the strain during the nineteenth century by the importation of English, Norman, and German bloodlines and subsequently Arab blood. Eventually at the end of the century the Andalusian was re introduced and the Lusitano Alter Real was re-established. However, the breed suffered another set back in the early twentieth century at the fall of the monarchy, when many horses were sold or destroyed.
In 1940 the d'Andrade family prevented the extinction of the breed by saving two stallions and a handful of mares and they instigated a breeding programme. The stud is now run by the state and still produces horses for high school work.