- Alter-Real -

The 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.

After 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 in Portugal. 

The 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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