Alter Real Horses come from Alter
de Chao, a small town in the Alentejo province of Portugal. They were created in
1748 and have a heavy Andalusian influence. They are also derived from the Lusitano
breed, but based on mostly Spanish mares. Alter Real Horses were designed to provide
high-class horses for equestrian activities at the royal court, and in particular
for the royal riding school in Lisbon.
Alter Reals have a small head,
strong shoulders and a short body, an impressive high-stepping action, long pasterns
and strong hocks. They are high energy, intelligent and quick to learn, beautifully
elegant and impressive. They are typically 15-16 hands high and have coats colored
in bay, brown, grey and occasionally chestnut.
During the Napoleonic invasions
the Alter Real bloodline was crossed with Arabian, Thoroughbred, Norman, and Hanoverian
blood, resulting in animals of a much poorer quality. Later in the 19th
century the breed was re-infused with Andalusian blood which refined and improved
Around 1932 the Alter Real was
facing extinction. Portugal’s equine expert Dr Ruy D’Andrade saved a small percentage
of the Alter Real breeding stock and line-bred two stallions and created a small
thriving herd. This herd today continues to thrive under the protection of the Ministry
of Agriculture in Portugal.