Breed evolution: The Mangalarga Marchador originated in Brazil in the early 1740s, when the foundation stallion Sublime was crossed on Spanish Jennets, Andalusians, and Criollos. His offspring were used to work on Brazil's vast cattle ranches and haciendas. Today, the Mangalarga Marchador is the national horse of Brazil. Strict inspection procedures in Brazil, comparable to Warmblood inspections in Germany, require that only horses of sound conformation, excellent gait, and good attitude are allowed to breed.
Lynn Kelley, cofounder and president of the United States Mangalarga Marchador Association, tells us that the first Marchadors were imported to the United States in the early 1990s by Brazilians, who sold their stallion and three mares to the Guerra family of Miami.
Tresa Smith of Lazy T Ranch in Montana worked in Brazil and fell in love with the Marchador. When she retired in 2001, she brought her breeding stock back to the Big Sky Country. In 2004, Christiana Guerra, Tresa Smith, and Lynn and her husband, John Kelley, founded the United States Mangalarga Marchador Association. The most recent group of Marchadors was imported by Susan Neumann of Cascade Marchadors in Oregon.
Today, there are approximately 90 registered Mangalarga Marchadors in the United States.
Owners tell us: "The long tradition of inspection before breeding has ensured that the Marchadors have sound conformation, with lots of bone and very good feet," says Lynn. The Marchador stands between 14.2 and 16 hands high, and weighs 850 to 1,100 pounds.
The Marchador is named for the smooth, marching gaits unique to the breed: the marcha picada and the marcha batida. "Both have four beats and provide triple hoof support," Lynn explains. "The picada features lateral movement of the legs, the batida is on the diagonal. Either provides a super-comfortable ride; personal preference and terrain determine which you use. The Marchador doesn't trot or pace, but moves easily from the marching gait into a beautiful canter."
In addition to his smooth gaits, the Marchador has been bred with a work ethic and stamina that suits the trail. In 1994, the Marchador entered the Guinness Book of World Records for Endurance Ride, with 8,694 miles.
On the trail: The Kelleys own and operate Summerwind Marchadors, Inc., in Scottsdale, Arizona, where they train and breed their horses. Each summer, they head to their ranch home in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where their horses enjoy a natural herd environment.
"We love to ride trails in Monument Valley," Lynn says. "We ride in the Rockies, too! Marchadors were bred to work, and their athleticism and surefootedness on the trail are reassuring.
"The smooth gait of the Marchadors seems to please riders of both gaited and nongaited horses," Lynn adds. "But perhaps most of all, we love Marchadors for their intelligence and sweet temperament. They like to put their energy and enthusiasm to use! We've found our perfect horse in the Marchador."