Saddles and Braiding
The “Portuguese-style saddle” is identical to the bullfighter’s saddle and has a seat and flaps in naturally coloured suede, with the studs, buckles and nails in nickel to embellish the pommels. The stirrups are hoop-shaped with a wide, rounded tread and bearing the coat of arms of Portugal in gilded metal on the outer side. The saddle flaps also display the coat of arms of Portugal in metal as do the the Breastplate and leather Crupper accessories and adornment with their grey coloured clasps and buckles. The Breastplate features a large medallion with the coat of arms of King João V. Covering the ridden area, the saddles are placed over a velvet cloth that, in addition to the aesthetic dimension, prevents the rider’s coats from getting dirty from the horse’s sweat. The heads of the bridle-bit are in naturally coloured leather, with the clasps and buckles in grey nickel in addition to the adornment of the horses with metallic buttons on their foreheads and muzzles. The bits are in nickel with worked ends displaying a fleuron with the coat of arms of Portugal and a swivel for holding the reins.
For their performances, the horses are duly embellished with their manes and tails braided to endow both greater elegance and a finer profile. The mane displays Portuguese-style braiding with its three simple points or with silk ribbons or bows and, in the case of the horses performing the Airs above the Ground, their tail is braided before ending in a knot. Sometimes, the mane is further decorated with rope and old gold trinkets, a Baroque reminiscence appropriate to certain types of gala.
Outside of their performances, in their daily work and training sessions, the horses have their manes and tails either loose or in a single, running braid.