For more images of Lusitano horses please visit www.nurtucker.com/gallery/
I have a passion for equine photography. I have been to the South of France twice to shoot the wild horses of the Camargue and then I wanted to shoot some other breeds. I found Tony Stromberg on the Internet and registered for his workshop in Portugal. He is an amazing photographer whose style I love very much. The aim was to capture the beauty of the Portuguese Pure Breed Lusitano Horses. I have been waiting for my trip to Portugal for a while. The day arrived and on 6th of May 2016, I left from Heathrow for Lisbon. The weather in London after a very cold and wet spell was spectacularly beautiful on that day with plenty of sunshine and temperatures of around 20 degrees plus. When I arrived in Lisbon, I quickly realized that whatever I packed for clothes for the whole weak ahead of me was totally unsuitable as the weather was wet and freezing – totally unfair!. I was going to wear the one and same jumper for the next seven days.
I have been waiting for this photo shooting opportunity for a year now and my trip was going to be ruined due to bad weather. The weather, very uncharacteristic of Portugal at this time of the year, stayed wet and cold for the rest of the week. We as a group of photographers moved from one stud farm to another, adding a lot of miles and hours travelling in the cars every day.
Despite the extremely bad weather, I had a fantastic time. The weather really limited our ability to shoot outdoors: we were forced to shoot indoors at dark traditional arenas with tiny windows. At first we were panicky, there was not enough natural light indoors and turning the lights on would make the light totally inartificial. I was struggling to capture some light in my camera and I had to up the ISO all the way to 3200. Despite this I could not get a depth of field better than 2.8 in many cases. But when I look at the results, it was not bad at all. In fact darkness created photos like oil paintings – I liked the results.
Our first day started at Morgado Lusitanos a stud farm near Cascais. It was cold and rainy and the arena was semi open (windy) but the directional light coming from one side of the arena was perfect. I still remember the first horse, called Harpejo, a 4 year old buckskin gelding. When it entered the arena with its raincoat on, I was mesmerized by its poise, stature, and elegance. The way these lucitanos move and carry themselves is equal to supermodels acting on the catwalk.
Each day we travelled from one stud farm to another around Cascais and Evora to witness the deep equine culture in this country. Stud Farms are usually located in an estate called Herdade, which have indoor and outdoor areas. Most of these places are spotless. Horse bathrooms are a little short of spas. Some of the arenas are stunningly beautiful. For example at Bessa the arena was covered with old blue ceramic tiles. Another place -Herdade de Pinheiro occupies a land of 5000 hectares and its history goes back 750 years. Its current owners bought it from the King of Portugal. It was one of the most extraordinary places I have been to and the owner Stephanie made us feel very welcome. It was here when we had a window for an outdoor session and due to the architecture of the surrounding buildings, it felt like horses were running around inside a palace. It was surreal. The other place that totally had a spell on me was Monte Negro near Evora. We were lucky enough to witness a dressage session at its best. Watching a very famous bull-fighting rider on a stunning and experienced horse was simply breathtaking! These were with traditional bull fighting lucitano horses.
Breeding Lusitanos is a vey serious business. These are truly pure breed, ancient horses. Each horse has a place in the registry with its family tree: its father (sire) and its mother (dam). Lusitano takes its name from a Latin word Lusitania which means Portugal. You hear the name of this horse in history books from the times of Hannibal during the war of Cartagena. This is not just a warhorse; lucitanos combine strength, intelligence, dexterity and bravery all in one. That’s why they are excellent in dressage and bull fighting. They avoid the bull’s charges with calm dressage movements and calmness. It is said that they are normally between 15-16 h.h, but most of the horses I saw in Portugal were on the big side such as 17-17.5h.h. They are very muscular and they have a deep chest and long back.
I am back in London now and I am still under the effect of their beauty. If you would like to see some of the art from that trip please visit my website at www.nurtucker.com/gallery/