Jody Hartstone Acquires Lusitano Stallion as New Project
New Zealand Grand Prix rider Jody Hartstone traveled across the world in search of her perfect match and became one of many delighted with the enthusiastic nature and talent of the Lusitano horse. Hartstone acquired the 7-year old licensed stallion Ali Baba.
"I was impressed with the rideability, character and work ethic of the Lusitano horse. I sat on many Lusitanos in both Spain and Portugal, and saw even more," she said. "I never once saw one with a bad character or one that was in the slightest way unwilling to work. The temperament of the stallions was outstanding. I also loved the versatility of the breed, from dressage, to working equitation, jumping and bullfighting - a really special breed to excel in all of these disciplines!"
Qualifying twice for the World Equestrian Games, but never quite making it, Jody was determined to try her luck on an Iberian beauty and has finally, after more than a year of European adventuring, found her perfect match!
"My “wishlist” for a Lusitano was long and varied. I wanted an approved stallion with great performance bloodlines, tall (as I am used to riding warmbloods of considerable height), and I really wanted a grey one with a long mane – as silly as both those two requests sound! But I had a picture in my mind of me riding a wonderful grey stallion, passaging my way down the black sand beach where I live in New Zealand. I also wanted the horse to be at GP level, or perhaps PSG with some talent to perform at GP. Not too old either. I thought this list was fairly realistic, even though my budget didn’t stretch to 6 figures. But I hadn’t counted on the dreaded Piroplasmosis – the bane of my life. I fell in love with one of the first Lusitanos I ever sat on – a horse by the name of Xangai – he fitted my criteria to a “T”, but the blood test would be his downfall."
That didn't stop Jody from continuing her mission and finally, having test driven more than her fair share of Ferrari's, Station Wagon's and naturally a few paddock bombs. Jody met Ali B!
"I’m not sure I picked Ali Baba – I think he picked me! I had seen him 8 months ago and loved him then, but he was sold from under me to a buyer with a lot more money than I could come up with. Fortunately for me the sale fell through and after many months I saw him again and the love was rekindled. It’s almost as if he speaks to me. He is a horse with a ton of character and a lot of vibration. He has a calm head with an inquisitive attitude and a cheeky nature. He actually reminds me a lot of Landioso, my first GP horse. One of the best things about Ali Baba is that he has never learnt to go against his rider. He has never known a strong hand and has been almost spoilt by his previous owner, Portuguese school rider Carlos Thomas, in the way a father spoils a son he loves very much!"
The 7-year old approved breeding stallion (by Hostil) carries both the Veiga and Andrada blood lines, giving him both functionality and height. Jody says that even though she tested many Ali B was the "wonderful bright bay with a talent for all the work of the Grand Prix" that stole her heart.
"I tried many horses on my travels, both good and bad. I know the second I sit in the saddle if I like the horse or not – whether or not it will be a good “fit” for me. Some of that is about the look of the horse and how I feel I look on it when I glance in the mirror – dressage is a lot about the “look” and it has to be just right. Part of my decision was also based on how well the horse had been trained – there are certain aspects I know I can fix in a horse’s training and other aspects I know will be detrimental to him in the dressage arena and thus too much of a gamble to buy , or too damned hard to fix. I admire so much the riding and training methods of the riders in the Portuguese School. I also rode several horses from the stables of Maria Cateano and her father and I must say they were wonderfully schooled. Also Sergio Martin up in Porto and Dimas Siaz in Spain both had very well schooled horses and it was a pleasure to ride at these locales."
Getting in touch with me over the internet after researching a spot the Lusitano trip to Europe, Jody read an article I had written on being an Australian living in Portugal and knew I was keen to introduce people to the Lusitano breed.
"Being from NZL I thought a fellow Antipodean would be the right person to help me find a horse."
Sarah found Ali Baba through her friend Carlos at the Portuguese School Of Equestrian Art and with Nicole Giger's vital organizational expertise, my dream was made a reality.
"I came to Portugal to look for a Lusitano horse. My good friend Riesa Bonnetti said to me two years ago when I was looking for a prospective GP mount “Why don’t you try a Lusitano?”. I didn’t know much about the breed at all after riding warmbloods almost exclusively. I googled Lusitano dressage and up came a video of a lovely brown stallion in the USA who had been videoed with the Fado song Chuva in the background. I fell in love with both the horse and that song that day and I was hooked! And Portugal was of course my first choice – being the home of the Lusitano horse."
With just two Lusitano stallions in New Zealand, Jody says neither of them were imported from Portugal and she believes Ali Baba will be the first Lusitano or PRE to hopefully compete at top level dressage in New Zealand.
"Ali Baba knows a tremendous amount, but in terms of competition training he is virtually a clean slate. He has a lot to learn in New Zealand – he will get to see the beaches, hills, and wide open spaces for the first time, and will learn to spend many hours grazing out on the green grass. But he will also have to learn to concentrate at competitions! He’s like a young boy who has been home schooled but is about to hit high-school and the big wide world all at once. I really would like to use him for both competition dressage and performances. I am a big show off and I think he might be one too – we will have fun together that is for sure! I would also like to begin a Working Equitation Society in New Zealand – so I would like to train him as best I can in that sport too."
And what a great time to introduce some top Lusitano blood down under.
"With Rubi doing so bloody well at the Olympics it really is a great time to introduce some Iberian blood. Baroque horses are becoming increasingly popular as top competition horses and I’m excited to be the first FEI level rider to be competing a Lusitano horse in New Zealand. But I have a big job ahead of me to be representing the Lusitano in New Zealand and I look forward to educating a nation about this wonderful breed and it's history in Portugal."
However while the horse has left it's national country, Jody must wait a little while longer until she can get cracking.
"It would have made it a whole lot easier if someone could just dig a big hole in the ground to connect Portugal to New Zealand and I could just “post” him Down Under. Instead he now has 5 weeks of quarantine ahead of him before I can finally pick him up and start our new life together."
by Sarah Warne