conformation convex head, black—tipped ears,
strong neck, sloping croup, low-set tail
colour dun, articularl ru||a/ rullo re dun with
black mane and tail
height 13.2-14 hands
uses harness, riding
When you compare him to the powerful Andalucian and the elegant Lusitano, it is difficult to believe that the unassuming little Sorraia is their ancestor. This indigenous Iberian equine – his conformation makes him a horse, rather than a pony takes his name from the areas around the rivers Sor and Raia, which run through Portugal and Spain, where he was discovered in l92O by Dr Ruy D’Andrade. He is also known as marismeno, the ’horse of the swampThe Sorraia is thought to he a descendant of Przewalski’s Horse and the Tarpan. He is nothing special to look at, but his agility made him a superb stocl<man’s horse, used to herd the wild bulls of southern Iberia. The Sorraia is always dun or grulla/grullo in colour, with black points and zebra stripes on the legs-foals are born with a zebra-like pattern all over. These colorations provided him with excellent camouflage in his native environment. It is believed the Sorraia was taken to the Americas withthe conquistadors, and very similar DNA has been found in America’s wild horse, the Mustang, among which the Sorraia’s distinctive grey-dun colouring still appears.Today this little horse is on the edge of extinction. It wasonly throu h the dedication of Dr D’Andrade – who selected 30 of these horses to run as a protected herd – that the Sorraia did not die out altogether.than the Barb horse being the forefather ofthe Iberian, the exact opposite may be true.
Whichever way round it was, the exchange of equine influence was undoubtedly beneficial to both horses. The he A Barb of today certainly resembles Iberian horses.Eg The Lusitano stands a little taller and has a more convex tat: profile than the Andalucian, which has been refined with Arabian blood. He does, however, have the same noble bearing, turn of foot and natural athleticism, which undoubtedly served him well as a warhorse in the Middle it Ages, while his agility makes him now an exceptional performance horse. It also makes him invaluable in the it bullrings of modern Portugal- he is named after the old name for the region, Lusitania. Bullfighting in Portugal differs from that in Spain, in that the object of the fight is not so much to dispatch the bull but to demonstrate the training and the schooling of the horse,and it is considered a great dishonour to the rejoneador- bullfighter — if his horse is injured during the contest. These modern-day cavaliers value their glorious equines-and whoif can blame them? d forehead, expressive eyes and inverted ’comma’ nostrils. I-Iis crested neck and muscular shoulders, compact body and sloping croup give him power as well as grace, and this mighty breed is still coveted today as life imitating art.
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