From Coffee to Horses
The rolling lush hills of a former coffee plantation are now home to 450 of the finest Lusitano horses in the world. The Interagro stud farm is situated just outside the small town of Itapira, an hour and a half away from the bustle of Brazil’s city of São Paulo.
450 hectares of picturesque countryside are divided up into paddocks surrounding the center of the stud farm where indoor and outdoor arenas; dressage ring in official dimensions, a breeding facility and the stallion barns are located.
A tour around the farm will show the mares and young horses grouped in different pasture divisions. In one of them, weanlings are prepared to be sent to the secondary farm only 15 minutes away, where they remain until the age of 3, returning then for breeding and training.
The mares are kept in groups of some 20 per field. The colts are turned out together in another pasture and the stallions are often grazing in individual paddocks close to the stallion barn. Certain stallions are allowed to run with the mares during the breeding season, reflecting Interagro’s intent to respect nature’s role in the procreation of these magnificent horses.
Stallions With a Kind Temperament
A horse with a kind temperament is on the wish list of many an aspiring rider. At Interagro this is something the staff enjoy on a daily basis. One of the things that struck the publisher of Sidelines – a national US equestrian newspaper – Samantha Charles, on her visit to the Brazilian stud farm was exactly that.
Employees Use Quiet Approach
The importance placed on nurturing this gentleness in the horses at Interagro is reflected in the work methods of the stud’s employees.
The kindness and calmness of the staff’s approach is impressive. There is never a harsh word or a heavy hand involved in the management of their 450 charges. Several of the stable hands are second generation employees and have learned the philosophy and practices at an early age from their fathers and uncles.
Antonio, one of Interagro’s longstanding employees is one of the principal work riders, spending his day training horses both on the ground and in the saddle. He explained his way with horses: “If you are not hard on the horse, but kind and gentle and talk to the horse it will respect you and you will get results,” he said. “If you get nervous and try to force a horse to do something it doesn’t want to do, you will not get results – not with horses, cattle or any other animal.”
Photo: Bob Langrish
Talking to the Lusitanos with Stud Farm Manager, Cecilia
Interagro’s Managing Director, Cecilia, has a love for Lusitanos that is hard to match – not bad for someone who does not like to ride horses and up until 15 years ago had just a passing interest in them. All that changed when she met the legendary Lusitano stallion Xique-Xique.
“Xique-Xique had all this folklore around him,” Cecilia reflected on the grey stallion that has become one of the most important influences of recent Lusitano history. “I never thought I could have a relationship with a horse like I had with him.” When Cecilia walked to and from her new office doing what she first perceived to be a ‘desk job’, Xique-Xique would watch her from his nearby paddock. (“He followed me with his eyes,” she explained. ) Soon Xique-Xique had captured her attention and her interest. It was the start of a long-term rapport with the stallion that carried over into a passion for Lusitanos.
“I’m scared of riding horses,” she admitted. “But on the ground I brush them and hug them and I love to see them move. What I love to do is observe them in the pasture – not in the arena or in their stall.
“At the end of the day I love to just sit and watch them. You can see their character. It’s a lovely way to understand and recognize a horse. Every horse here [at Interagro in Brazil] has a story and its own peculiarities. I know who prefers to eat in the morning, who prefers to eat in the afternoon and who prefers to wait. I know the way they like to be brushed. They may all be horses, and all the same breed but they are individuals and they show you their personality.”
Cecilia had planned to be a vet before being offered the job at Interagro – a decision that changed her life and her interests.
“It’s not just a job,” she said. “It’s a pleasure – a way of life. It’s fascinating to watch them – just look at their eyes.
Photo: Bob Langrish
The lineages at the Interagro stud farm consist of the following:
In 1992 Interagro bought the famous stallion YACHT, a son of Martini who is twice grandson of Principe VIII the founder of the Andrade Stud.
Yacht is a proven stallion in Portugal where he served in many different studs, including Andrade, Veiga, Campilho, leaving more than a hundred descendants, many of whom are prize winning horses at Portuguese Lusitano Shows.
Among Yacht’s famous sons/daughters, Gavial (SA), Haste (SA), Icaro (SA) and Dragao (SA) deserve a mention, all four of whom are now in Brazil.
Interagro has 15 Andrade mares imported from Portugal and since 1994/95 has been producing animals with 100 percent pure blood of that important basic lineage.
Interagro has enjoyed the luxury of breeding from three exceptional 100 percent Veiga stallions.
XIQUE-XIQUE (CI) – Quina, son of Quieto (CI) and Nieta (CI). Acknowledged as one of the most important stallions in the breed these days, due to the many extraordinarily beautiful and functional offspring he has produced.
Emir II (MV)
EMIR II (MV) – Veiga lineage, son of Universo (MV) and Laranja II (MV), was acquired directly from Coudelaria Veiga in Portugal. From both paternal and maternal sides, he carries all the most typical and representative aspects of the Veiga lineage. He was acquired in 2003 by Haras Quintana, of the city of Holambra/SP, Brazil.
UFANO II (MV) – Interagro could only bring him from Portugal after the son of world-famous torero (bullfighter) Manuel Núncio, Manuel Jr, agreed to sell him, as he knew that after all the dedication granted by Interagro to the lineage Veiga, this bloodline would be preserved here. Probably the greatest stallion in historical importance ever imported.
VISQUEIRO (CI) – A stallion of 100% Veiga bloodline, of famous Coudelaria Quina – extinct at the time of the 1974 Revolution, he is acknowledged along with his full brother XIQUE XIQUE (CI) as one of the greatest sires in the breed. Before coming to Brazil, he served at Coudelaria de Francisco Van Zeller Pereira Palha (FPP), (Nico Palha). Imported by Top-Agropecuária, was granted to Interagro in 1999.
DANÚBIO III (MV) – Born on Jan 08/85, he is one of the most important and famous Lusitano stallions of all times. Champion of Champions in Portugal in 1988. Utilized by many Portuguese breeders, he has generated a great many award-winning offspring in Portugal, including OFENSOR (MV), Great Champion at the Golegã aged 4 years, and that today serves at Interagro along with Quixote Interagro and Quantum Interagro.
OFENSOR (MV) – Son of Danubio III (MV) out of Tricana II (MV), a stallion of 100% Veiga bloodline, Ofensor was the Great Champion at the Golegã in 1999, and Gold Medal in Sire’s Progeny at the Lisbon Festival of 2003. Sire of Champion Colt 2 years and of Champion of Champions in Lisbon 2004; and yet of the Champion Mare and Champion Filly 2 years.
PERDIGUEIRO (MAC) – Tutored in bullfight by tauromachian rider Pablo Hermozo de Mendonza. He suffered an accident that has disabled him to carry on bullfighting, reason why it was possible to acquire him from the famous Spanish torero. He has been at Interagro since 2001, and his first offspring , “letter X” generation, fully meet the best expectations put on him quality wise
PICASSO (JNU) – The only Nuncio stallion in activity in Brazil, imported by Interagro and today serving at Coudelaria do Castanheiro in Tatuí – state of São Paulo, Brazil
NICOLA (MAC) – He is one of the principal stallions at Interagro these days. An animal of great morphological correction and complexion, he prints his “signature” on all of his offspring, male and female.
GIROFLE (APP) – A stallion with preponderant Veiga blood, dominantly black coat, he’s son of VISQUEIRO (CI), that together with his half-brother XIQUE XIQUE (CI), will leave, through their outstanding offspring, an indelible mark on the present and future Lusitano breed.
Interagro started its Lusitano breeding activities in 1977 with animals from the Portuguese breeders Barata Freixo (BF) and Oliveira e Sousa (OS) – both 100 percent CN lineage.
The first stallion Interagro used was NÍQUEL (BF) who distinguished himself with many prize-winning offspring.
Later on, the Brazilian Champion, APOLO DO MIRANTE, bred by Interagro, was largely utilized with excellent results, increasing the CN bloodline foundation.
During the 1980’s three other CN stallions were also used – ARIEL, GABRIEL (both Interagro bred horses) and BRONZE (BF).
In 1992 IDIOTA III (BF), a gold medal stallion winner in Portugal and Brazil where he won the title of Champion Imported Horse, became the main stallion for the CN line at Interagro.
In 1994, Interagro brought the famous TUIM (CN), one of the principal stallions of Coudelaria Nacional. Tuim is a gold medal stallion awarded 81 points in revision, who has produced a number of prize winning sons and daughters at the Coudelaria Nacional and in other Portuguese studs where he was used.
Interagro’s female herd has many CN bloodline mares including the many-time Brazilian Champion Biluca do Mirante.
Breeding horses with the three basic pure bloodlines is one focus of the Interagro breeding program.
The other important aspect of the breeding program is the search for a typical Interagro horse, carried out through the deliberate crossing of these three main bloodlines. This quest is part-science and part-art – something pursued by all breeders of the Lusitano as they consciously, or unconsciously, try to produce their ideal type of horse. As Alfredo Baptista Coelho explains well: “Pure Lusitano Blood breeding is like entering into the magic world of intuition, where the breeder, driven by passion, creates a horse that is the magic of his dreams.”
Some auspicious results have already been achieved through the Interagro breeding program with many exceptional Interagro horses obtaining excellent results at Brazilian National Shows. For example:
Veiga – Andrade
Legendario do Mirante [Novilheiro (MV) x Ulisseia (RC)]; Menelau Interagro [Emir II (MV) x Guria (MP)]; Maravilha do Mirante [Emir II (MV) x Ema do Mirante].
Veiga – Coudelaria Nacional
Lindeira Do Mirante [Xique Xique (CI) x Dama do Mirante] International Female Champion 1993; Nuncio Do Mirante [Xique Xique (CI) x Heureca do Mirante]; Magnata Interagro [Xique Xique (ci) x Ira do Mirante); Lagrima do Mirante [Xique Xique (CI) x Janota II (OS)]; Quinarius Interagro – Gold Medal National Champion 1999.
This picture of the Andrade stallion was used in the logo of Brazil’s Horse Business Magazine. Photo: Alvaro Maya
Xique Xique (CI). Photo: Alvaro Maya
Xique-Xique, of the Veiga bloodline bearing the Quina brand was one of the most important stallions in the formation of Interagro’s breeding stock. Among his numerous notable offspring is Maverick Interagro, out ofVardasca, who was the first full Veiga stallion to be born and bred in Brazil. Xique-Xique is also the sire of a young Lusitano stallion, Montezuma do Mirantewho is currently in training in the United States with Grand Prix rider Silke Rembacz and successfully competing at 3rd and 4th Level dressage.
Tuim (CN). Photo: Álvaro Maya.
Tuim, a CN stallion at Interagro has impressive breeding. His sire, Innato (DLR) has produced offspring, highly respected at the most traditional Portuguese stud farms and his dam, Maquineta, was twice a granddaughter of the very famous dam Hucharia (CN) – one of the six “Leading Line Champions” in the Lusitano breeding.
Legendário do Mirante. The stallion Legendario do Mirante is one of Interagro’s many success stories from its breeding program. Legendario is by jumping champion Novilheiro out of Ulisseia and is striking in appearance – so much so that he was used by the Portuguese Stud Book in 1997 as the breed’s prime example in beauty and functionality. Photo: Bob Langrish
Brood Mare. Photo: Interagro File