Monte Velho Lusitanos

By Claartje van Andel
Photography: Claartje van Andel, FEI

Inheriting a breeding enterprise that’s been handed down through family generations is one way to launch a career as a sport horse breeder – having a heart attack at the age of 37 and realizing that life is more precious than working as an international architecht was the defining moment for Diogo Lima Mayer, demonstrating that success is driven by commitment and passion

In Monte Velho, a little more than one hour drive east of Lisbon, in the Alentejo region of Portugal, the Lima Mayer family has established a wonderful Eco-Resort (for both humans and equines). It all began when Diogo Lima Mayer Snr – an international architect – suffered a heart attack in 1989 at the tender age of 37. His doctor advised a new hobby as a way of avoiding stress, so Lima Mayer decided to start riding lessons, and purchase a Lusitano. As happens with so many people, this introduced completely changed his life and that of his entire family, including his four sons. Today, Monte Velho is a luxurious boutique hotel for guests who appreciate scenery, history – with many local sites – Portuguese food, Monte Velho wine and, last

Diogo Lima Mayer alongside Equador/ João Miguel Torreo at the 2019 EC

but not least, the horses. Lusitanos to ride and to simply admire.

Since 1992, Lima Mayer has been breeding Lusitano horses on a small scale. This year the family celebrated a remarkable success when their home-bred stallion Equador NVL (Quo Vadis SS - Que Ha NVL x Hostil SGB) was ridden by their own instructor and stable rider João Miguel Torrao in the Portuguese team at the European dressage campionships in Rotterdam. Their result achieved the ultimate goal – a team spot for Portugal in dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This means that new plans and goals have to be written because, alongside the breeding, riding lessons, and hospitality, competitive dressage is providing a thrilling bonus.
In this interview Diogo Lima Mayer Jnr talks about the breeding of Lusitano horses that has given the family property new wings, just like the breed itself.
Q Please tell us about the first Lusitano horse that started everything for your father, an Alter Real mare?
My father has made the most intelligent choices within this breed. I admire him very much for that. You can divide the Lusitano breed into four important lines in Portugal: the first is Veiga, the second is Andrade, the third is Alter-Real, and the fourth is Coudelaria Nacional. At an auction my father bought an Alter-Real mare. And she became the strong foundation of our breeding.
An Alter mare – like wine from Bordeaux – is pure. Since my father started with an Alter mare, it has given us more power. This is where the power comes from. We still have 30 percent Alter blood in all our horses. That’s good for the power, and you know that Grand Prix is all about power.
Q Gaits, of course, also count in your breeding choices? 

Never refrain from looking for good movements, of course. As dressage is very competitive, we also like to have better movements. But the walk and the canter are the most important gaits. I believe trot is extremely over-estimated by many people. The trot is the least important gait, as you can reproduce it. In our personal of developing our home-bred  Equador to European level, we travelled to Carl Hester in the UK to train and get his advice. It was amazing how much we learned in a few short months. This was the first ever Grand Prix season for our rider João Torrao and he made it to 68% at the Europeans, and rode very good tests in Hickstead. We are proud...To read the complete article you need to be a subscriber

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