Mangalarga Marchador Horses
The Mangalarga Marchador is the National Horse of Brazil, with over 400,000 registered horses in Brazil. It is of Iberian descent with a heritage in Brazil. When the King of Portugal fled to Brazil from the Napoleon invasion, he took his most prized Alter Real Lusitano stallions. One of those stallions, most often referred to as Sublime, was then selectively bred with local mares consisting of Spanish Jennets, Spanish Barbs, and Andalusians. Today, the Mangalarga Marchador exhibits the similar type of intelligence and refinement found in the Lusitiano and Andalusian, yet they are slightly smaller and present with the smooth ambling nature of the Jennet and the hardy stamina of the Barb.
The Marchador is a workable sized horse. They range between 14 to 16 hands in height and 850 to 1,100 lbs. in weight. They come in a wide variety of colors: black, bay, chestnut, dun, buckskin, palomino, roan, grullo, grey, and various pinto markings. The pinto coloring originates from the Spanish Jennet. There is no Paint blood in this breed. You will not only find this horse to be beautifully refined, you will also find they are available in some of the most stunning colors known to equus. However, the majority represents a solid color. There is only one color, cremello, which the association will not register. The Brazilian association believes that cremellos have difficulty with depth perception. Thus, a decision was made not to grant cremellos their breeding papers. At Marchadors InMotion, we breed our horses for disposition, conformation, and gait as this should always be the priority over color.
The Mangalarga Marchador is one of the world’s most versatile breeds. In Brazil, the Marchador is used for all disciplines of riding including stock work, dressage, hunter jumpers, endurance, gymkhanas, trail, and pleasure riding. Oddly enough, they are natural jumpers with a strong sense for working cattle. In 1994, the Marchador entered the Guinness Book Of World Records for an endurance ride of 8,694 miles, still the record. The Marchador is a gaited breed of horse. However, like all breeds of gaited horses, some have more natural gaits than others. A Marchador that trots is considered to have a poor gait. The same is said to be true about a Marchador that paces. A natural, more superior gait tends to be one in that the triple foot support can be seen with the naked eye.
The Marchador possesses one of two gaits, often referred to as the marcha. The marcha can be either a marcha batida (ba-chee-da), a diagonal movement, or marcha picada, a lateral movement. Although not officially recognized as a gait, if the horse ambles equally between the two gaits, it is referred to as having centro movement. Of the two gaits, picada is considerably smoother than batida. However, neither gait is considered to be superior to the other and is often debated by breeders. Preference seems to boil down to riding style and the individual, thus the importance of riding both gaits before buying.
The gait is a four beat gait with triple hoof support and is recognized internationally for its smoothness. In Portuguese, picada stands for a light touch, and of the two marchas, the marcha picada is smoother. It is a broken pace with little vertical movement. This gait is characterized by the movement of the animal's legs in a lateral sequence, with periods of triple hoof support. The principal advantage of this lateral four beat gait is its greater smoothness resulting from the periods of triple hoof support and from the overreach. The gait can be sustained for long periods of time, allowing the rider hours of enjoyable riding with little discomfort. The timing of foot falls is similar to the paso llano of the Peruvian Paso Horse without the paddle.
Batida means to hit in Portuguese and describes the gait considered to be a broken trot. It is characterized by the movements of the legs in a diagonal pattern, also with moments of triple support and a four beat sequence. This gait, unlike a trot, should show very little to no suspension (all the legs in the air) as the horses are always in contact with the ground. This creates stability and smoothness. The longer and more frequent the moments of triple hoof support, the more comfortable the gait. On flat ground, performing the batida at a normal speed, the hind foot overreaches the track of the forefoot on the same side, adding to the smoothness of the ride. In this gait, the timing of the footfalls is similar to the trocha gait seen in Colombian horses.
Though the gait is natural for the horse, it is more difficult to perform than a trot or pace. Therefore, if you would like the horse to perform in its marcha, the horse occasionally needs encouragement to engage and remain in gait. You will find that a superior Marchador will prefer the marcha even in free movement, especially those with an exceptional gait. This gait is quite different from that of other gaited horses, presenting with an eye-alluring, graceful “C-shaped” knee movement with medium to low action. It is a forward reaching movement that covers an extensive amount of ground. In fact, it is such an onward stride that many Marchadors can gait as fast as other horses canter. Both gaited and non-gaited riders find the smoothness of the Marchador to be quite pleasing to ride.
Character & Disposition
The Marchador is well known for its exceptional carriage, athleticism, versatility, and smoothness. But more predominantly, for its amiable disposition. They are incredibly intelligent, alert, and easy to train. In Brazil, the horse must pass a rigorous approval process at the age of 3 years old in order to be registered as a breeding animal. It is evaluated on its marcha (gait), disposition, and conformation. It is then scored at various levels. If the horse does not present with a kind, willing temperament during registration, it is not granted papers. Thus, you will find a calmer, kinder disposition that has been bred into these animals.
They are a very willing breed. I often refer to them as “people pleasers.” It is this character that makes them wonderful partners for children as well as elderly riders who have a passion to ride but would like a calmer, smoother riding horse. This breed is quickly gaining popularity for its people friendly nature that allows them to build strong bonds with their owners. The Marchador is well suited for beginners, yet it offers the versatility and athleticism that is attractive to advanced riders as well. Do not mistake their calm (sweet pony like) disposition as a lack of athleticism; they blossom when gathered into gait. They don't tire quickly as the Marchadors’ heritage is that of a hardy animal that has the stamina to work for extended periods of time.
The novice horseman might mistake the Marchador for a small Andalusian as they tend to exhibit themselves with the same refinement, crested neckline, and medium knee action. Because we believe that the greatest attribute of the Marchador is its smooth gait and willing disposition, we chose to name our stable Marchadors InMotion (MIM). At MIM, we prefer the gait over the trot or pace. We are one of the few breeders in the USA that focus on training the Marchador to stay in gait. If you have never experienced the floating nature of the Marchador, we invite you to come for a ride and experience what we refer to as the "magic carpet ride.” Once you have become acquainted with this breed, you will begin to fall in love with the exceptional demeanor and true majesty that accompanies the Mangalarga Marchador. For more detailed information, please click the museum link below.