Alter-Real is lucky to be in existence today, considering its very
checkered past. The word real is Portuguese for royal, and
the breed was established by the Braganza family in 1747. The House
of Braganza imported 300 selected Andalusian mares from the Jerez
region of Spain, to form a national stud in Alter do Chao, from
which the Alter-Real gets its name. The principal reason for establishing
the stud was to provide royal family with suitable High School and
carriage horses for their royal stables in Lisbon, Spain. During
the eighteenth century, the Alter-Real became very popular for their
ability at High School exercises, which was due in part to their
association with the Master of the Horse at that time, Marquis of
Marialva. During the Napoleaonic invasion, the Alter-Real breed
suffered a setback and was contaminated by infusions of English
Thoroughbred, Arab, Norman, and Hanoverian bloodlines.
this episode, a great deal of Arab blood was introduced to the breed
to attempt to re-establish it, but this did not produce the desired
effects. Finally, Andalusian blood was reintroduced and restored
the Alter-Real back to its former royal glory. Another setback came
during the early twentieth century when, as a result of the dissolution
of the Portuguese monarchy, the Alter-Real stud was shut down and
most of the stud records burnt. Luckily, a leading horseman at the
time, Dr. Ruy d'Andrade, salvaged two stallions and some mares from
the stud and began re-establishing the breed once more. Because
of his valiant efforts, the breed survived and continues to be bred
Alter-Real horse is intelligent and a quick learner, because of
which it needs to be handled by experienced and knowledgeable horsemen.
They tend to have and average sized head, with a pronounced jaw
and a straight or convex profile. They sport a short and muscular
neck that is nicely arched, with pronounced withers, a compact frame
with a short back, and muscular hindquarters with a well-set tail.
Their shoulders should be sloping, and they should have strong legs
with slender but sturdy cannon bones and pasterns. Typically they
are bay, but can also be chestnut, gray, or brown. Alter-Reals tend
to stand between 15.1 and 16.1 hands high.
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