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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Mangalarga Marchador (MM)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Mangalarga Marchador (pronounced 'MARCH A DOOR'; also known as 'Mangalarga Mineiro' and 'MM') is a gaited Brazilian saddle breed, who is known for its two comfortable 'marcha' gaits.

The story of the Mangalarga Marchador starts about 60 years before the breed itself was created. It opens in the 18th century, when a man named Joao Francisco Junqueira moved from Portugal to the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, where he established a breeding farm called 'Campo Alegro.' In this farm, he bred horses of several breeds, one of whom was the ambling Spanish Jennet. Upon his death, his son, Gabriel Fransico Junqueira, inherited the farm.

At some point during the 1810s, Gabriel received a gift from his friend Prince Pedro I: an Alter-Real stallion called 'Sublime' (see the 'Alter-Real' for more information about this breed.) Gabriel crossed Sublime with Spanish Jennet mares at Campo Alegro, who gave birth to ambling foals. These crossbreds became known as 'Sublimes.'

The smooth gaits and attractive the conformation of the Sublimes attracted the attention of breeders from another breeding farm called Mangalarga, who bought Sublimes and began to ride them. This attracted the attention of even more breeders in the region, who linked the Sublimes to the Mangalarga farm and renamed them "Mangalargas." The comfortable ambling gait of the Mangalargas made them excellent trekking horses, which is why the breed received the name 'Mangalarga Marchador' (meaning 'Mangalarga Walker.')

Mangalarga Marchadors became popular in Minas Gerais and in nearby states, where numerous breeding lines were established. In 1902, Mangalarga Marchadors were introduced to Sao Paulo by Jose Frauzino Fortes Junqueira, where local breeders crossed them with Thoroughbreds, Arabians, and Anglo-Arabians. The result was a new breed called Mangalarga Paulista (see the 'Mangalarga Paulista' for more information.)

Today, the Mancalarga Marchador is one of the most widespread breeds in Brazil, and is also found in the USA and Europe. Aside from its comfortable gait, the Mangalarga Marchador is also known for its agility and endurance, and is therefore used for trekking, sport disciplines, and recreational riding.

As mentioned above, Mangalarga Marchadors exhibit two unique 'marcha' gaits. The first is the marcha picada, a 4-beat lateral gait that is similar to a broken pace. During this gait, there is a phase where both the hind and front legs of the same side are elevated, but the hind leg always lands before the front leg, meaning that there is a phase of triple-leg support before the two legs of the other side go up. This support enhances the smoothness of the gait.

The second gait is the marcha batida, a 4-beat diagonal gait that is similar to a broken trot. During this gait, there is a phase where the hind leg of one side and the and front leg of the opposite side are elevated, but the hind leg always lands first, meaning that there is triple-leg support between each diagonal. That said, the length of this support phase is shorter than in the marcha picada. Overreaching is common in marcha batida, but the hooves don't hit each other because an instant before the hind leg lands, the horse starts to execute the next diagonal, so when the hind leg lands the hoof of the front leg is already flexed forward (with only its tip touching the ground.) Therefore, there is always space between the hind hoof and the front hoof of the same side.

The Mangalarga Marchador was the first breed to exhibit these two marcha gaits. Between 1910 and 1934, Marchadors were used to create another Brazilian saddle breed called Campolina, and gave it the ability to perform the two marcha gaits as well. Furthermore, another Brazilian breed called Mangolina, which is a cross between a Mangalarga Marchador and a Campolina, also performs these two marcha gaits. This means that while the Mangalarga Marchador is famous for its marcha gaits, it is not the only breed that performs them.

Mangalarga horses have an iconic conformation, characterized by a triangular head that has a broad forehead and a narrow muzzle. The head also looks narrow and long from a profile view. The ears are narrow, and are often curved inwards to a certain degree, although it is not as extreme as seen in Marwari or Kathiawari horses. The neck is broad at the base, and is held somewhat high. The withers are long, the chest is muscular, and the croup is long and can be somewhat horizontal compared to other breeds. Overall, the body is visibly muscular and sturdy. The mane and tail are silky.

Mangalarga Marchadors come in the colors of bay, black, brown, chestnut, grey, dun, and roan, with the coat being solid, sabino, or tobiano. The colors of palomino, buckskin, and smoky black also found in this breed. However, double-cream diluted horses are banned from registration due to their blue eyes. Therefore, it is no recommended to cross two heterozygous cream (Cc) Marchadors. In addition, horses who have an albino-like coat are also banned from registration, which is why sabino-1 (Sb) is not found in this breed, and why horses with a maximum pinto coat will be penalized.

Most Mangalarga horses stand between 14.1hh and 15hh, but the complete height range of this breed is 13.3hh to 16hh.

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