May 2015 - Quality Assurance
Written by Lynn Kelley
Saturday, 02 May 2015 04:06
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Brazilian tradition follows the Mangalarga Marchador to America.

by Lynn Kelley

Bred by Summerwind Marchadoros, Beethoven do Summerwind is owned by Laurie Klassen. Photo: Judy Woodward

Normande do Clarion in Brazil. 'To me, this photo shows how enjoyable the ride is,' says Lynn. 'It looks like a dance!'

The Mangalarga Marchador is the ultimate Brazilian Saddle Horse, perfected in Brazil for over 200 years. Based on Iberian breeds, they are beautiful to look at, wonderful to be with and comfortable to ride. A perfect life partner for riders of any age.

Training of this breed is facilitated by its intelligence, and uses for the breed are unlimited. In work with cattle, in sports, in Brazilian functional trials, or in cross-country horsemanship, the Marchador is outstanding and is obtaining excellent results in comparison to other breeds. This breed is extremely docile and is commonly ridden by children. Here in North America, the Marchador competes and shows in both western (mounted shooting, team penning), english (dressage, jumping), endurance riding and also pure pleasure.

The Mangalarga Marchador averages between 14.2 and 16 hands in height and weighs between 850 and 1100 pounds. Although grays are common, chestnut, black, bay, buckskin, palomino and paint coat colors are also present.  

Breeder/author Lynn Kelley leads Brasilia do Summerwind, who was imported in foal with Gaia do Summerwind, shown here at a month old. Gaia was provisionally registered with the ABCCMM as a foal. Definitive registration in Brazil would be age 3 or later when the horse is under saddle. Photo: Tamara Gooch

An adept and extremely versatile horse, the Mangalarga Marchador is fast becoming one of the most sought after breeds. As with many Iberian breeds they are good cattle horses. They are known for setting the Guinness Book of World Records endurance ride of 8,694 miles in 1994.  A perfect trail horse, they can also excel in other disciplines that require agility, stamina, speed and a sound mind.

A strict inspection process has preserved this breed’s great traits as its popularity extends throughout North America. Toward that end, inspections are on the way to Canada and the States -- Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona. It’s exciting! It’s educational! It’s scary!

It’s been 10 years since the first Brazilian inspection in North America. The 2015 ABCCMM inspection will be the sixth time that Brazilian inspectors have travelled to the U.S. to inspect and approve Mangalarga Marchadors for registration with the ABCCMM, the Brazilian MM association.  It is the first ever Canadian inspection this year.

The buckskin yearling mare Brazil Cachaca de Tres Coracoes shows off impeccable movement. She is co-owned by Haras Tres Coracoes and Summerwind and is competing at the National level in Brazil. Summerwind hopes to import her embryos for breeding.

Proud Origins

Artemis do Summerwind “This dapple gray gelding is my husband’s riding horse with temperament and Marcha that suits him to a T,” says Summerwind’s Lynn Kelley.Photo: Tamara Gooch

As Brazil’s national horse, Marchadors are descendants of Royal Alter stallions brought to Brazil when Napoleon invaded Portugal. They are a matter of great pride and passion in their native country. The Brazilians’ inspection process is similar to that for Warmbloods or PRE horses, with the goal of ensuring that only quality horses will be entered into their breeding books.

The inspection process had to be explained to us the first time in 2005. We were all new Marchador breeders. Getulio Vieira, the first inspector here, described the process to the American breeders and owners. “Animals over 3 years of age should be shown in halter first while identification and paperwork is verified. This shall be followed by a demonstration for the gait of each saddle mare and stallion ridden by a qualified handler for the observance of the marcha gait, a dynamic movement characterized by independent leg action that allow moments of triple hoof support. The technician performing a test ride is optional. After the ridden test, the saddle shall be removed, leaving only the halter for evaluation of the conformation of the horse and a review of possible disqualification characteristics against the standard of the race.”

Azenha de Maripa imported by Future Foal from Brazil. She is the dam of Beethoven do Summerwind and shows the breed’s soft kind eye. Photo: Tamara Gooch

The inspection can take up to one and one-half hours to complete and includes 27 measurements of the horse during the inspection.  These measurements include lengths of certain structures, angles and proportions of one body part to another. That is because the Brazilians believe that conformation of the breed contributes to the gait. Some of these measurements are recorded on the permanent registration paper of the Mangalarga Marchador.

The Brazilians have produced a breed that is extremely sound, well balanced with a natural gait.  But equally important is the intelligence and good nature of their animals.

Grey stallion Ximoio de Maripa shows the triple hoof support that is what makes the ride smooth. The Marchador is named for the gait, the Marcha (walk). Owned by Agro Maripa Brazil, Ximoio has one foal in the U.S., from imported frozen semen, Hawke do Summerwind.

Essentially, the inspection evaluates the characteristics of a good horse -- conformation, movement and temperament. The Inspection Standards for the Race include a description of the breed standard and a table that assigns points for each breed characteristic. The inspector (always a vet and sometimes also a judge) examines each individual and assigns points in conformation categories, and on the horse’s way of going at all gaits for a total of 100 points. The “marcha,” the gait unique to the Mangalarga Marchador, is graded for another 100 points.

For a stallion to pass inspection, the total score must be over 140 points with at least half of the points in conformation and half of the points in the marcha. A good horse needs to have both. Perfect conformation and a bad gait would not pass and vice versa. The mares require a minimum of 120 points.

There are also a few disqualifying characteristics that eliminate the horse from registry in the breeding books. These are serious faults that the Brazilians do not want in their genetic pool.

DaVinci do Summerwind at 2012 Ocala clinic with owner Connie Claire. He is being evaluated for conformation by the ABCCMM Director of Judging Tiago Resende Garcia from Brazil. Photo: Adele Pennington

The black stallion Arun de Maripa was sired by Elite stallion Favacho Diamante and is owned by Agro Marpa of Brazil. His frozen semen is available now in the U.S. and Canada from Summerwind.

Upon completion of the testing, the horses that pass are branded with the trademarked horseshoe “M” brand of the Mangalarga Marchador breed. In the past, mares were also branded with identification numbers, but these days, a microchip is used. Because all the Marchadors in Brazil are now microchipped, they can easily be identified and verified that the correct horse was transported, entered into competition or bred.

The ABCCMM M brand is placed on the right shoulder of inspected and registered Mangalarga Marchador horses.

With fewer than 300 Marchadors in North America, the ABCCMM inspections are held only once a year or even every two years, sort of like the Olympic Games. And that is just what it feels like! Horses are prepared, credentials are checked and the brands applied to signify the Marchador has passed.

Oma de Maripa, Brasilan Marchador stallion, owned by Agro Maripa, one of the first breeders to export frozen semen to the U.S. The stallion has sired two foals here: Gaia do Summerwind and Jewel do Summerwind. Photo: Sabine Stuewer

The Brazilian tradition has followed the Marchador here in North America and also in Europe and we are very happy for that!

Author Lynn Kelley is a bloodline fanatic: before Marchadors, it was Thoroughbreds and Arabians!  Focused on ensuring the quality of the breed and genetic diversity, her breeding program imports frozen semen from top stallions in Brazil.   She writes regularly about the Marchador and breeding. Her breeding program, Future Foal has locations in AZ, CO, NC and SK, Canada. You can find out more about the Marchador and Future Foal breeders by visiting