How I found my Dream Lusitano

Dec 01, 2017
Photos: Rita Fernandes · Author: Frances Carbonnel



This is the story of Frances Carbonnel, professional rider and instructor living in Colorado USA. Frances is a charming, young-spirited horse lover who has always felt an intense curiosity regarding the Iberian breeds. She has competed Spanish horses in dressage since 1998, and was a pioneer in promoting Spanish horses in Colorado. She is also one of the national coaches for the Western Dressage Association, whose mission is to build an equine community that combines the Western traditions of the horse and rider with Classical dressage. For many years Frances has desired to expand her knowledge of the Lusitano breed, but only recently has she been free to deepen her understanding of these amazing horses. After a first trip to Portugal she became convinced that she had to take home a Lusitano horse to train and compete with. Here, in Frances’ own voice, is her account of the process that led to her purchase of a Lusitano through Lusitano World: from Curiosity to Commitment.


First, I am American, in my 60’s, a former Grand Prix rider and instructor who still rides 3-4 horses daily in several disciplines. My emphasis has been on dressage competition with PRE’s (Pure Spanish horses) and I imported my first stallion in 2003. I have had a lifelong attraction to both the Pure Spanish and the Lusitano, but there is confusion in the US about the differences between these two Iberian breeds. So, in April of 2016 I decided to make an exploratory trip to Portugal to learn more.


My first trip was with two friends to a wonderful Quinta which specializes in giving riders a quality experience with excellent instructors on trained stallions, and was just what I needed to whet my appetite further. Everything I learned pointed to some significant differences between the two breeds, with very important ramifications for a dressage rider. So, I returned to Portugal on my own in November 2016, to the famous Golega National Horse Fair, with the intent of making the contacts necessary to help me introduce more horse people to the extraordinary horses, iconic countryside, relaxed and warmhearted culture, and delightful people I found. Also, in the back of my mind was the growing hope of finding a horse for myself.

While at Golega I became acquainted with Filipa Jácome who founded and leads Lusitano World. I was very impressed with Filipa’s business acumen, her knowledge of the Lusitano breed, the depth of her contacts among the breeders and trainers, and most of all, her openness in explaining her passion for sharing the Lusitano with the equestrian world. Her enthusiasm is very infectious! 

As any trainer knows, the secret to success on a horse buying trip in Europe comes down to who you know, and their reputation. Trying to find quality horses on one’s own can be incredibly time consuming, frustrating and challenging, and the potential to waste huge amounts of time without a successful outcome to one’s effort can be significant. However, mistrust of brokers also can be a limiting factor, unless you have confidence that your chosen contact really can deliver on your needs. Language issues, health issues, vetting, transport - the learning curve can be steep, time consuming, and costly!

Even though I was not in an urgent need of a horse, I began corresponding regularly with Filipa, honing my understanding of the Portuguese market and deepening my level of trust. Lusitano World has an incredible array of horses in its’ data base, over 150 at any time, ranging from foals to finished GP horses. I asked Filipa to keep her eye out for a special horse, one that would suit my needs as an older rider, but with talent for the upper levels of dressage. In early March, she sent me a video of a 6 year old stallion, saying, ”If you don’t buy this one, I will!”


Undeniably, I liked what I saw. After a clean set of x-rays, I made arrangements for his purchase, and placed him in training with one of Lusitano World’s team members, Joao Faustino, who is a young up-and-coming FEI rider. My intent was to let this young stallion develop in training, and then to make the decision either to resell or to bring him to the US. Many of my friends asked me, “Are you NUTS? Can you really trust this to turn out well?” And my answer has been “YES!”

So far, my horse has progressed so nicely in his training that he will likely be confirmed at PSG within a year of his purchase. I had the joyful experience of visiting him last April, and found him to be everything I had hoped for, and more. He is healthy, happy, well cared for, and Joao loves him. Filipa keeps her finger on what is going on, so I receive regular updates from Lusitano World as to his progress, including photos and videos. The cost of his board and training is much more reasonable than in the US, so the investment in this horse remains reasonable, while his value increases considerably. All good business, from my perspective!



I have been so impressed with my experience with Lusitano World’s services that I am contemplating further investments in young horses with them, and have become a partner in promoting exclusive equestrian trips for discriminating horse people. We have plans for unique adventures which include horse buying, visits to the best studs, opportunities to ride with world class riders - both Dressage and Working Equitation, time with Living Legends in their home environments, poetic trail rides through timeless countryside, thundering through the Atlantic surf, and of course, some tourism to fascinating monuments. The options seem endless!

It is an honor to have found a company that I would risk my reputation on, and that I feel so compatible with. In my opinion, Lusitano World is the ONLY organization in Portugal that has the resources, knowledge, experience, and integrity to fulfill your horse buying experience, or to make a very unique vacation dream come true for you. Next time I have a trip scheduled from the States, why don’t you come along!


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Lusitano World offers a combination of services dedicated to promote the Lusitano Horse worldwide and to highlight the richness of Portuguese equestrian culture. Visit our website and follow our social media platforms to find out what we can offer.

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