Now, after many years of wanting to visit, I have been to Golegã during the Festival of the Lusitano. Golegã: home to a number of legends of Lusitano breeding, including Manuel Veiga of Quinta da Broa, and Manuel Assunçao Coimbra. As a longtime student of Mestre Dominique Barbier, I have been familiar with these names and have regarded them as the height of perfection for the classical Lusitano. Tracing bloodlines from Broquel to Larapio, one of Dominique’s stallions, has been a pathway through breeding and cultural history in Portugal (and Brasil) for the last fifty years. Dominique’s original stallion, Dom Giovanni, was also a horse by Broquel.
But Golegã surprised me in so many ways. It was not just a history lesson or homage to the great breeders. It is a living, breathing, celebration of all things Lusitano. The rich culture surrounding this great horse is multi-faceted, and as a living organism, it is in a state of constant change. One thing remains the same; the festival is held each year over the Festival of Sao Martinho on the 11th of November.
I am still catching my breath from all the excitement, imagery, sounds and smells. Golegã was THE complete sensory experience. Hooves clip-clopping on cobblestones, with breath from nostrils and steam from flanks mixing with the smoke from roasting chestnuts….all competing with the cries of children wanting to pet the horses and the calls from one friend to another over a pulsing crowd, creating a marvelous cacaphony. I hope the pictures will give you a sense of the vibrancy of the Lusitano Festival. It has been a rich harvest for me and a rare instance of the reality far exceeding the dream. I am truly blessed.
My favorite moment from Golegã? That’s easy…the conversations and camaraderie all built around the love and passion for a great horse. Having dinner in a very small restaurant and meeting people from all over Europe that knew each other through the Lusitano, coming together to enjoy the festival, was a memorable night. It reminds me that the world, though vast in size and full of wonder, is made small, even intimate, by the connections we share and create with others.
Tomorrow I’ll put up a small gallery of images from Tomar and the Convento do Cristo, along with a few from the Cistercian Monastery at Alcobaça.