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Mr. Barbier demonstrates

long lining with a Lusitano.

Conformationally, we need big movers and a good engine room, but we also need horses capable of collection, because dressage is all about collection, and we see a lot of problems with horses lacking pure blood because the sensitivity is not there. These problems originate with training that is ‘forcing’ them to go somewhere – they are not collected they are compressed!”

Dominique Barbier explains that gaits should only be in proportion to the size of an animal – whether it be Warmblood or Lusitano or a pony! “The judges should recognize that when a big horse enters the ring, their gaits should also be big. But it is a fact with few excep- tions that when a horse is above 16.3 he will have much more difficulty in balancing his movement than a smaller horse. When you consider how many people aspire to Olympic-level dressage, you have to ask how many can actually sit on a big-gaited Warmblood. Not many. So, what have we done? Man has created saddles that help people to grip and stay on – which is anti-classical and anti-dressage!”

Barbier’s suggestion is that everyone should allow them- selves to sit on a Lusitano and experience a Lusitano, and they will start to understand the difference to a Warm- blood. “The answer is to ask a well-trained Lusitano to walk, trot, canter, passage and pirouette – then under- stand why you should have one.

“With a Warmblood you have to try to make them con- scious of balance – sadly, most of them are not. Why? Because they come from a former driving situation where they had to pull a load. Now they are being asked to sit a little, walk and produce a balanced trot, which is some- thing you have to take time with. With Lusitanos there is much less work because of their inherent qualities.”

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Maturity, Barbier says, “is individual. Can you find a three- year-old Lusitano you can ride? Yes, of course, but they are better at four or five. Some you may be able to start at three, but it’s based on each individual. In all my years of experience, a Warmblood has to have a systematic rou- tine going on for several months before you can feel something is happening. A Lusitano – especially if you are talking about a young stallion – is from the beginning already interested in playing with you, learning, participat- ing, getting a conversation going. It is all about interac- tion. But you have to understand that Warmbloods and Warmblood people typically don’t want interaction. Warmbloods don’t volunteer themselves. Lusitanos will!”

While Barbier theorizes the differences between Warm- bloods and Lusitanos, and can call upon over 40 years of practice with both types, he also explains that they are not complete opposites, “because I believe the training methods I use are appropriate for all horses. If you give me a Lusitano and a Warmblood tomorrow, I will do the same thing with them, but their reaction to the training will be totally different. So you have to modify their train- ing according to their reaction. I have a natural progres- sion that I follow, but you have to adapt the training to suit an individual horse. For instance, if you show a whip to a Lusitano he will move away. If he doesn’t move you use a light touch and he will move away, happily. If you show a whip to a Warmblood there will be a different reaction and a different degree of sensitivity. Having said that, you do have Warmbloods who are sensitive and some Lusitanos who aren’t, so each individual horse has to be assessed. Generally, I find Lusitanos to be more gen- erous by nature.

“A horse mirrors his rider – people have certain qualities that become part of their horses.”

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