* Horses – a story of love
“But when I think of all these years, there is something that always takes precedence over the endless memories of events witnessed and lived, tasks accomplished, and things done – and that “something” is this awareness of the almost immeasurable array of emotions experienced and shared in this incredibly rich universe, whose substance and essence are the horses. There have been moments of the highest elation and of the most poignant sorrow, of bitter disappointment and of the sweetest glory, of tragedy and of comedy, of almost choking stress and of balmy serenity, of roughness and of tenderness, and, most of all – of love. Yes, love – this all-encompassing emotion, or, maybe, sense, which prevails over all others, overruling the negative ones, and making the positive even more so.
Therefore, when I think back, I do it, fundamentally, with love – the same immense love that fills my heart to bursting, now… and always will, because it is that kind of love that, even when it overflows, never ceases to seep back into and fill me again, and again, and again. For that, all I have to do is… to think of them, the horses of my life!”
– (Maria Alexandra Oliveira, Manager of Quinta da Lage, in “The Year(s) of the Horse” – All rights reserved)
Between 1985 and 2006, with greater incidence on the 1990’s, we have implemented the activity of horse-breeding at Quinta da Lage. Our option having been to focus on strains with a special aptitude for Show-Jumping competitions, our horses were bred, mainly, from “Selle-Français” (*) stallions and Thoroughbred broodmares.
(*) – “Selle-Français” (literally meaning “French-Saddle”) is one of the most famous show-jumping oriented horse breeds in the world. Originating in the French region of Normandy, it is the breed of horses such as Olympic Medalist and World Champion “Quito de Baussy”, and three-time World Champion “Baloubet du Rouet”, among many others.
In 1991, when we imported Vert Muguet (left) – a young “Selle-Français” stallion who would come to conquer the title of Champion of France in the Hunter Category in 1996 – our breeding yard acquired a new impulse, and the services of this horse as a certified stallion became available also for mares owned by other breeders in the beginning of the 1992 breeding season.
Up to 2006, the year when he started to enjoy his well-deserved retirement, Vert Muguet’s career in show-jumping evolved in coordination with his activity as a breeding stallion. And while he excelled in the first, having won numerous and very significant prizes, Vert Muguet distinguished himself, through the latter, as the founder of a strain of magnificent horses who, along the years and by their own merit, also excelled in show-jumping competitions – such as the mares Harmonie Verte and Ileana Verte, both born at Quinta da Lage respectively in 1995 and 1996, and the mare Tite Verte, born at Quinta da Vista Alegre, near the city of Aveiro, in the year 2000, among others.
( Vert Muguet S.F. – born in St. Lô, France, in 1987, by Muguet du Manoir and out of Illioucha. In the photo, participating in a show-jumping competition in 2004 )
( Harmonie Verte S.F. – born at Quinta da Lage in 1995, by Vert Muguet and out of Falamor TB. In the photo, participating in the 2008 Porto International Show-Jumping Competition )
( Ileana Verte S.F. – born at Quinta da Lage in 1996, by Vert Muguet and out of Anacoreta TB. In the photo, participating in the 2007 Porto International Show-Jumping Competition )
In 2007, the last foal by Vert Muguet was born at Quinta da Lage. (photo above) She was named Chá Verde (Green Tea) and her dam is the Thoroughbred mare Nougatine d’Or.
Meanwhile, making the best use of the vast grazing paddocks and of the spacious and modern yard facilities, the Quinta da Lage equestrian team put into practice, with the assistance of British expert Sandy Duce, an innovative holistic horse care system in 2001. This system, aimed at achieving and maintaining the welfare of the horse as a whole – thus not only at a physical, but also at a psychological and emotional level – and which is still in effect at Quinta da Lage, was at the basis, for some years, of another activity: the recovery of horses (mainly, competition horses) suffering from injuries, traumas, and/or behavioral problems. Very numerous were the horses, and great was the diversity of problematic cases we dealt with at Quinta da Lage, at that time. And, in spite of many moments of dejection, particularly in those cases in which the gravity of the problems diagnosed, and the complexity and long duration of the healing and/or retraining programs prescribed, clashed with the impatience of the owners of the horses in our care, we also experienced many exhilarating and rewarding moments, through the achievement of quite a lot of remarkable recoveries, as a result of our efforts and perseverance.
Presently, the equestrian services of Quinta da Lage, coordinated by head-groom José Carlos Barbosa da Costa (left), are essentially focused on the assistance to the horses that regularly participate in show-jumping competitions with rider José Carlos Mendes (right), as well as on the care of other horses, of diverse ages and origins, who also live at the yard.
After nearly 25 years of activity, and an infinity of experiences shared with many unforgettable horses through a connection that, with time, has become stronger and stronger, we are proud and grateful to say that our story, certainly one marked, on the whole, by success, has been and is, in fact, and above all, a true…
… STORY OF LOVE!