The Mangalarga Marchador is popular and versatile horse and the national horse of Brazil. This beautiful and intelligent breed has an amicable personality which makes these horses are highly trainable and unique.
Francisco Gabriel Junqueira, Baron of Alfenas, is credited with the proliferation of Mangalarga Marchador, when he was given a stallion named Sublime. The stallion, Sublime, was the descendant of two horses brought from Portugal by Dom Joao VI during the invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by Napoleonic troops.
In Brazil, Sublime was crossed with mares of the hacienda Campo Alegre: Spanish Jennets, Criollos and Andalusians; the resulting mix was a well-built horse with a smooth gait. This gait is a distinct characteristic of the Mangalarga Marchador and dubbed the “marcha.” The Mangalarga Marchador breed was continually selected for and thrived.
In 1934, the Mangalarga Breeders Association was created, and the founders defined the breeding direction for the Mangalarga. This association gave distinct objectives for the breed which included: the function and use; setting desired characteristics of function and morphology; and definition the desired gait. This was an attempt to define the essential Mangalarga Marchador.
Throughout time trotting breeds were used in the development of the Mangalarga Marchador. These breeds included: Arabs, Anglo-Arabian, English Thoroughbred, Morgan, Lusitan, Trakehner, American Saddlebred, American Trotter, and traction horses (Hackney). This brought contention between breeders: those who wanted to retain the essential type and those that wanted to adapt the breed.
In 1943, the Mangalarga Breeders Association closed its’ Stud Books closed to prevent the influence of other bloodlines on registered horses. A group of breeders that objected this direction and in 1948 founded the Association (Mangalarga Marchador) that became today’s United States Mangalarga Marchador Association.
Moving from a contentious past in defining the Mangalarga, there are now over 350,000 registered and w `ith specific characteristics.
The Mangalarga Marchador horse is stands from 1.4 and 1.52 meters high (14.2-16 hands), and weighing between 850 and 1100 pounds. This medium sized horse has a deep chest and muscular quarters. The croup is sloping with well conformed shoulders and long solid legs. The hooves are solid, round, and dark in color.
The head of the Mangalarga is triangular with a wide flat forehead and that is well outlined. The long jaw is both wide and lean with large open nostrils. The eyes are big with expressive thin eyelids. The communicative ears are mobile, parallel, directed upward.
The Mangalarga has a coat that is distinctively fine, silky, and smooth. They are predominantly gray, however they are also found in chestnut, black, bay, buckskin, palomino, and paint.
The Mangalarga Marcha has a smooth marching four beat gait that is slow and symmetrical, supported alternately with the lateral and diagonal members; this is distinctively the “marcha.” This smooth gait is balanced and upright and has brief moments of triple hoofed support.
The Mangalarga Marchador is very versatile. They are docile creatures that easily train and adapt. The Mangalarga has much durability and set a Guinness Book of World Records’ endurance ride of 8,694 miles in 1994. They can make perfect trail or cattle horse. In addition they serve well as a sport horse excelling in disciplines that require agility, stamina, and speed such as: jumping, cross country, and dressage events.