Dressage Riders and Trainers: Mark Your Calendar for The Lusitano CollectionTM International Horse Auction, February 23-26th in Wellington, Florida! The Lusitano CollectionTM International Horse Auction has been called the “most exciting sport horse auction in the United States” and fans of the magnificent Lusitano breed are already gearing up for the 2011 festivities. The 2011 Lusitano CollectionTM International Horse Auction is scheduled for February 23-26 at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center during the prestigious Winter Equestrian Festival season in Wellington, Florida. The world-renown auction attracts equestrians, Lusitano fans and interested buyers from all around the world for a weekend filled with excitement, ranging from an exquisite gala dinner to fiery Samba dancers and breathtaking Lusitanos.
Topping off the highly anticipated weekend is, of course, the presentation of the magnificent horses. Interagro Lusitanos of Brazil, the largest Lusitano breeder and exporter in the world, brings the annual event to Florida to give Lusitano horse enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase imported Lusitano horses well suited for driving, jumping, eventing, and dressage without the hassle of import fees or quarantine periods. Each horse in the 2011 Collection is bred, evaluated, and trained to be an excellent sport horse prospect with a focus on temperament, movement, and trainability. Many of the horses this year show fantastic talent for dressage with naturally uphill and elastic gaits.
During the 2010 auction, dressage rider Kate Saunders, and her father Tim Bettis, both took home Interagro horses. “We didn’t go to the auction to buy, we just thought it would be a fun event centered around horses that our family could attend,” Saunders said, adding that she bought a stallion named Boicote Interagro and her father purchased a mare named Carmelita Interagro. “Because of the way Boicote was raised and his personality, he’s just a dream to handle even as a stallion,” Saunders said. “Boicote loves to play in the paddock with all his toys, just like a little kid, but then when you tell him it’s time to work, he focuses on you and tries his heart out. He’s one of the most trainable horses I’ve ever met.”
Cathy Cooper, of Smyrna, Georgia, also took home her dream horse during last year’s auction. “Baluarte Interagro is not only my dream horse and future champion, but I have fallen in love with him and the Lusitano breed as well,” Cooper said. “After years of riding I was ready to become a horse owner and I picked the Lusitano specifically.” Cooper’s trainer, Lisa Evans, showed Baluarte in three training level classes at the Atlanta National Dressage Show in Conyers. “He scored above 60 in all three, with a 67.857 in his last class. He’s not even in full training yet so we are very proud,” said Cooper.
Katherine Cook, the owner of Legendary Lusitanos, said she felt in her heart that she found her breed when she attended the 2008 Lusitano auction. “Aesthetically speaking, I wanted a beautiful and balanced horse with a long, thick mane and tail, both powerful and stately. Personality-wise, I wanted a horse that was comfortable to ride, personable and pleasant to handle. I was looking for a horse that could compete in dressage, do some jumping, and who I could take on trail rides,” Cook said. “In my mind, I was looking for a horse that was the perfect composition of intelligence, athleticism, and beauty. And it was at that first Interagro Auction held in the US in 2008, I felt in my heart I had found my breed.”
Although she wasn’t planning on purchasing a horse, by the end of the evening Cook was the owner of not one, but two Lusitano stallions – Xisto Interagro and Zola Interagro. “Xisto was a five-year-old, beautiful dark bay out of Quinio standing 16.3 hands. Over the next few months, I came to appreciate more than his stunning looks, as his exceptional talent and graceful athleticism was evident in all of his movements, specifically in his lateral movements. Over the months, I would come to appreciate and adore Xisto for his ability to think with the rider, for his reliability, for his forward motion and exceptional work ethic.”
“Zola was a four-year-old, grey power-packed in his 15.1 hands. The smartest horse I have ever encountered, he is able to assimilate, engage and navigate any skill in a matter of moments. His extreme agility makes him capable of everything from bowing on both sides, waltzing, canter pirouettes at liberty, Spanish walk and trot, and the list goes on. Zola scored a seventy-four percent his first time in a dressage competition to win high point,” an enthusiastic Cook said, adding that she returned to the Lusitano Auction in 2009 and 2010 and now owns five stallions.
Dressage trainer Gary Lane, of Boynton Beach, Florida, is also sold on the Lusitano. “I absolutely adore the Lusitano breed. They are bright, willing horses and possess an incredible work ethic. I believe my future will rest with the Lusitanos. I love the two KWPN geldings that I have but feel that I will stay with the Lusitanos from here on out. I won't say that I would never buy another warmblood because I've had and still do have some incredible warmbloods, but my heart tends to lead me to the Lusitanos,” Lane said.
Lane said he had been interested in Iberian horses for quite some time when he decided to sell one of his warmbloods. When decided to look into the Iberian horses more seriously, “I contacted my friend Heather Bender, who's the Director of USA Training for the Interagro Farm Export Program. She took me to their farm in November 2009, and I've been hooked ever since. We now have eight Lusitanos in our stable,” Lane said, adding that the horses are owned by Carlene Blunt.
The Lusitano breed is renowned for their willingness to please and owners of Lusitanos believe they possess a higher than average intelligence. The Lusitanos generous temperament and ease under saddle makes it an attractive prospect for amateur and professional riders alike and the 2011 auction promises to feature Lusitanos aimed at all levels of riders. Whether the selected horses will be the dream horse for an amateur or a professional, all of the horses have one thing in common -- due to their athleticism and trainability they will all have the ability to compete and succeed at the FEI level.
While word has been spreading about the 2011 Lusitano auction, which promises to be the most exciting auction to date, the Lusitanos themselves are the true ambassadors for the upcoming event. Two magnificent Lusitanos, driven in tandem by Cherri Reiber, kicked off the holiday season in style at the Holiday HorseFest at the Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach’s downtown waterfront. “The crowd really enjoyed the tandem driving exhibition and the two Lusitanos, Vistor Interagro and Zerbino Interagro, piloted by Reiber put on a fabulous performance,” said Peter Van Borst, the United States representative for Interagro Lusitanos. “Following the exhibition, we had many, many people wanting to know more about Lusitanos and the auction.”
The Lusitano breed was also in the spotlight at the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Annual Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, when dressage rider Leah Winston showed the six-year-old Lusitano stallion Amintas Interagro, owned by Al and Sherie Zobec of Z Stallions in Palm City, Florida, in the USDF symposium. Winston has found success with Amintas in the FEI Six-Year-Old division and believes the stallion has Grand Prix potential.
“Although the level we were demonstrating was below the level he is currently competing, it was great exposure for us and the Lusitano breed. The judges for the symposium, Gary Rockwell and Lilo Fiore, treated us very fairly and helped me with some of the issues that actually carry through to the level I ride Amintas in now. Gary even commented that he is a very nice young horse and has a great work ethic, very serious and will be fun to train up through the levels. He also commented on the relationship that he feels we have developed,” Winston said, adding that she is again looking forward to the Lusitano auction.
In addition to spending an amazing action-packed weekend in sunny South Florida during February, the auction also gives attendees the unique opportunity to purchase Brazilian horses without the hassle of import fees or quarantine periods. The horses are all pre-vetted, and their complete medical histories are documented for prospective buyers. “The buyers have a wonderful advantage of knowing that these are some of the best Lusitanos we have to offer. Interagro has over 800 horses and we have known the horses we send to auction since they were born, and have been with them every step of the way,” said Cecilia Gonzaga, the Managing Director of Interagro Farm in Brazil.
Interested buyers can ride their dream horses in advance by taking part in the horse tryouts on Wednesday, February 23rd and Thursday February 24th. Veterinarian check ups will take place on Friday, February 25th followed by a horse showcase at 6:00 in the evening, featuring professionals riding the exquisite auction horses and showing their training, temperament, and natural gaits. The weekend will culminate with the gala dinner and auction on Saturday, February 26th, beginning at 5:00 pm. On auction night, the air will be filled with electricity as the bidding heats up and one lucky buyer after another becomes the proud owner of their dream horse.
The auction will offer something for everyone, including vendors and booths. Sho Clothes, a premiere dressage boutique, will be on hand as will the United States Dressage Federation and the Dressage Connection. These offer finery for horses and riders, as well as provided the commemorative halters for each horse in the auction. Dressage Training Online will be filming the event to air at a later date but there is nothing better than being there. The Lusitano Collection™ International Horse Auction’s charitable partner, The Equestrian Aid Foundation, will also have beautiful items available to bid on to raise money for their important cause. New this year, the high-selling horse at the auction will receive a custom made saddle from Custom Saddlery.
The Lusitano CollectionTM International Horse Auction is an event not to be missed, so mark your calendars now for the equestrian community’s event of the season, February 23-26. For more information on Lusitanos, and tickets and more information about the auction, visit www.lusitanocollection.com.