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Portugal was one of the leading countries during the age of discovery and had a vast empire in South America, Africa and Asia. Today a rich culture remains and its art and architecture draw many visitors from around the world. Horseback riding in Portugal is deeply woven into the rich fabric of the country and it has produced some fine international riders, particularly in dressage. The magnificent local bred Lusitano reflects the strong equestrian tradition dating back to pre-Roman times.
Bullfighting was also developed, but unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese do not kill the bull in the ring. Instead it is a superior exhibition of equestrian skill and teamwork between horse and rider where the bull’s horns sometimes come within inches of the horse. In many ways it is similar to the performance of a champion cutting horse and rider. The practical need for teamwork between horse and rider in warfare was the origin of dressage.