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training is destroying the gaits because few dressage horses have a correct walk, and the trot is artificial because it changes the natural gait. The FEI rules for extension say that the back leg should extend as much as the front leg, and the toes should be pointed where they land. The rules were created because the necessary quali- ty of the extended trot is relaxation. If the movement is created with resistance or rigidity, the back leg doesn’t work and the front leg has an exaggerated Spanish trot type of movement that has no name. The essence of dressage is to make natural movement even more beauti- ful, respecting and improving the gaits. I have a hard time with [sport] dressage because I know how it’s done and it’s not pretty.”

Fielding the question, Warmbloods versus Lusitanos? Barbier responds by asking, “What do you want a horse for? If you want a basic trail riding horse or one for west- ern activities, a quarter horse is very close to perfect. If you want a low-level competitive horse, any horse might do: Warmblood, Arab, Morgan, Appaloosa…. Therefore, the first question is to define the purpose of your horse.

"If you want a horse with vibrancy, a horse close to blood will provide it.”

If you are a sensitive individual and rider, a horse that’s comparable to who you are might be a horse close to blood; i.e. Arab, Thoroughbred, and also the Baroque breeds.” So, to begin answering the Warmbloods versus Lusitano riddle, and according to Barbier, “The more pure blood you have, the more sensitive the horse. This is a quality but also a problem because they demand more attention and more togetherness. Moving towards Warmblood, they become less interested. If you want a horse with vibrancy, a horse close to blood will provide it.”

Once again, in order to clarify a simple term, “sensitive” does not necessarily mean a horse that is disposed to spook at everyone and everything – an annoying habit that many riders feel they can cure by using “desensitiza- tion” methods. In Barbier parlance, sensitivity comes from mutual understanding, trust and respect which, in them- selves, counter a horse’s inclination to shy, spook or dis- play outright disobedience. (Fans are still recalling the unconscionable behavior exhibited by a few of the world’s top dressage horses in Hong Kong’s Olympic arena last August during momentary breakdowns in com- munication! Even more questionable were the marks awarded by the judges during these periods of total dis- obedience – which perhaps contributed to the FEI dis-

banding their Dressage Committee in its entirety pending further investigation and complete reorganization!)

According to Barbier, “As soon as you mix blood, you will get a different result every time. Some Warmblood horses are good for high-level competition, but are certainly not an enjoyable ride for a regular rider. What is extraordinary about the Lusitano is that their sensitivity comes from the pure blood, but the kindness and gentleness going with it has been produced through centuries of human closeness for companion enjoyment. They have been chosen for bullfighting because they will defend their rider, and because they have a level of under- standing with a rider that is extraordinary and specific to the breed.

“If you take a horse that’s sensitive and beautiful and ready to trust man, and you treat him like certain com- petition peo- ple treat their horses, you will lose their complicity. One of the outstanding qualities of a Lusitano is that they are beautiful the way they are, but they don’t want to be pushed and com- pressed, half halted like some other breeds can take. They are sensitive individuals that require a minimum of under- standing from their riders and not be treated like machines.

Mr. Barbier rides a shoulder-in with the Lusitano Sedosa.

“Warmbloods are more predisposed to [sport] dressage because the competition judges are really placing more importance on horses with larger gaits than normal. In other words, if your horse does not have an extraordinary trot in competition, it is not even considered.

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