Mangalarga Marchador

Ximoio de Maripa of Agro Maripa, Brazil
© Sabine Stuewer



The Mangalarga Marchador appeared over 200 years ago in the County of Rio das Mortes (River of Death), in southern Minas Gerais (General Mines) state in South America. This was when horses of the Alter Real breed, brought from Alter do Chão, Portugal, were crossed with other local horses selected by breeders of that region. The breeding efforts resulted in a large, elegant animal, with aesthetic beauty, a docile attitude and excellent temperament for riding.

The Alter Real Stud Farm, also known as Alter do Chao, was established in Portugal by Don Joao VI in 1748. By the 18th century, Don Joao VI found glory when the horses became sought after by the nobility in Europe. Back then, no distinction was made between Spanish and Portuguese horses (today's Andalusians and Lusitanos), and the political border was of no consequence regarding the breeding of horses. Most breeders took their mares to be bred in Alter do Chao. By 1808, Don Joao VI decided to move to Brazil and begin his colony along with his family and group of trusted friends. It was the arrival of Don Joao VI and his Alter Real stallions that would lead to the creation of the Mangalarga Marchador.

The specific birthplace of the Mangalarga Marchador is known as Fazenda Campo Alegre, owned by Baron Gabriel Francisco Junqueira. The Baron was particularly known for breeding the Alter Real horses from Portugal with the native horses of Brazil, and soon a new breed was born, the Mangalarga Marchador. After Gabriel Francisco Junqueira was credited for the creation of the Marchador, he passed these unique horses along to his sons and nephews, who began their own breeding facilities, "the foundation farms." These new breeders branded their Marchador horses with their initials and thus, the bloodlines of the Marchador began with JB, JF (Favacho) etc. Many of their foundation bloodlines still exist today.

Arun de Maripa of Agro Maripa, Brazil
© Estela Bonata


Breed Standard

The Mangalarga Marchador varies in height from 14.2H to 16H, averaging 15 hands and weighing between 850 and 1100 pounds. Gray is prominent, but chestnuts, blacks, bays, buckskins, palominos and pinto horses may also be found. They are a medium-sized, well-proportioned horse built to be strong and agile. They have a vigorous and healthy appearance with smooth skin, silky hair and large, expressive eyes - a regal appearance! The ears are often tipped inwards at the top. They also have a docile temperament, easy for training and gentle to handle.

A sure-footed horse with plenty of cow sense as well as stamina, this breed holds the Guinness book of World Records Endurance Ride of 8,694 miles in 1994.


Talisma Kafe of Haras TopdaMarcha, Brazil
© Arthur


Marchador Foal
Gaia do Summerwind, owned by Adrienne C. Scheck of Scottsdale, AZ
© Tamara Gooch Photography


Inspected for Quality

In Brazil, all Marchador horses undergo an inspection by the ABCCMM breed judges to be approved for permanent registration and breeding. Foals are inspected for genetic defects before weaning. Then at age three, when the horse is trained under saddle, each is inspected for appropriate conformation, gait and temperament. Approved horses are branded with the trademarked Horseshoe M brand of the ABCCMM; only these approved horses are allowed to breed.

Because of the long tradition of the Brazilian breeders and the inspection process, the Marchador has solid conformation, good feet, exceptional intelligence and a calm, willing temperament.

Imperador das Aguas JM - BreyerFest Carnival Celebration Horse
© Claudia Bellandi


Gaits - The Marcha

The Mangalarga Marchador is a versatile working horse breed that is also gaited. It has two special gaits - the "marcha picada" and "marcha batida". A Marchador's natural gait is typically based on genetics, and can be noticed shortly after birth. Marchadors who perform the marcha batida gait are the most common throughout Brazil and also the most preferred, due to their better ability to travel through rough terrain. Horses with the marcha picada gait are fewer in number and are more easily found in northern Brazil.

The difference between the marcha picada and marcha batida gaits is the length of time spent in lateral stride (picada) vs. diagonal stride (batida). Both gaits consist of moments of triple hoof support, which is what makes the gait smooth and easy to ride. The Marchador also has a wonderful canter, which does not disturb their natural marcha.


The Breed Today

The Mangalarga Marchador is bred to be so versatile, they're used in many disciplines here in North America - mounted shooting, mounted archery, dressage, western dressage, working equitation, endurance, competitive trail and ranch work to name a few. The Mangalarga Marchador is one of the most populated breeds in the world. As the National Horse of Brazil, there is a Marchador song and a Marchador Museum.

In its native country, the ABCCMM has more than 6,000 breeders and over 500,000 registered horses that live on approximately 22,000 farms. In Brazil, Marchador horses break records in agribusiness, selling over $60 million a year in only 75 auctions across the country. Their National Exposition, held every year in July for 11 days, is one of the biggest equestrian events in Latin America with 1500 purebred Marchador horses competing.

After the recent exportation of the Mangalarga Marchador, now there are populations in many countries! After Brazil, Europe has the highest population of Marchadors. Here in North America, the breed has quadrupled their numbers in ten years time, from an initial 60 horses, to more than 250 horses!

Brauna Libertas of Montana Marchador, Boulder, MT
© Keith Graham


Additional Information

For more information on the breed, please contact the U.S. Mangalarga Marchador Association, the Marchador association of North America.

North America USMMA

Brazil/World ABCCMM

Europe EAMM