Alexandra Downing riding a horse.

East Anglian based rider Alexandra Downing has ridden and trained Lusitano horses for over twelve years. Alexandra first became associated with the breed whilst riding & training at Pine Lodge School of Classical Equitation. On completion of her BSc degree in Equine Science Alex travelled to Portugal to study under Sr Francisco Bessa de Cavalho, rider with the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, at his yard near Lisbon.

During the following eight months spent at Quinta da Fonte Santa Alex consolidated her training & further developed her understanding of the Iberian horse. Besides riding the school masters at the yard Alex was also involved in working the younger horses under saddle and from the ground. The training of many of the horses at Quinta da Fonte Santa starts in-hand from where some of the more advanced movements such as piaffe and Spanish walk are introduced.

Whilst in Portugal Alex was invited to train at the Lusitano stud farm of Nuno Pontes near Sao Paulo, Brazil, with renowned trainer and dressage rider Ndzinji Pontes. The stud and training yard had approximately 40 Lusitanos including competition stallions, Jogral (by Noveliero) and the palomino stallion Ginete (by Dragão II), both imported from Portugal. Many of the progeny produced at the stud were exported to North America where interest in the breed has increased over recent years. Whilst working in Brazil Alex travelled to Chicago where she assisted with the preparation of 25 horses for an equine spectacular show.

In 2002 Alex traveled to Austria to spend three months training with Hans Riegler, rider with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, one of the oldest riding academies in the world. This was a great opportunity to experience training with the famous Lipizzaners.

On returning to the UK Alex continued training at Pine Lodge School of Classical Equitation under the expert tuition of Sue Barber where she competed successfully on the Lusitano stallion Mafioso (by Florim) and mare Uxaria (by Quito) at both Working Equitation & other Lusitano riding trials. Working Equitation is a four phase sport which combines the art & discipline of classical dressage with the agility & control required when working horses in the field. Alex represented Great Britain at the European & World Working Equitation Championships for five years from 2004 at competitions in Italy, Spain, Portugal & the UK.

The objective of classical dressage is to develop an understanding of how the horse naturally moves and apply systematic tailored training to cultivate this under saddle. Having ridden and trained horses in both the UK and aboard, Alex has adopted the methods of some of the most influential classical trainers of our time. Alex continues to teach and train within Norfolk and Suffolk where she has an established freelance client base. In 2005 Alex joined the Register of Instructors as a BHS AI. Please contact Alex for further information