When the Portuguese royal family went to Brazil back in 1807 to escape from Napoleon, the king D. João took with him some of the finest horses of the breeding farm Coudelaria Alter do Chão. It is said that in 1812 the prince, Pedro I, presented one of this fine stallions as a gift to his friend Gabriel Francisco Junqueira, Baron of Alfenas and owner of the breeding farm Hacienda Campo Alegre.
With the arrival of the stallion Sublime, the foundation of the modern Mangalarga horse was laid. Sublime was bred to the native mares of Spanish Jennet and Barb blood, many of which were fast and smooth amblers. The first offspring produced from this cross were called Sublime horses. The name Mangalarga came from the Hacienda Mangalarga which acquired stock from Campo Alegre and awakened interest in the horse among local ranchers. The horses’ smooth, cadenced and rhythmic gait, marcha in portuguese, contributed the second part to the name, Mangalarga Marchador. Since these early beginnings, the Mangalarga Marchador has been selectively bred for over 180 years and it is said that no other breed has been crossed in.
The first breeders organization, the Associação dos Criadores do Cavalo Marchador de Raça Mangalarga was established in the city of Belo Horizonte in 1949 with the major goals to set breed standards and to promote and distinguish the Mangalarga Marchador as a unique breed, mainly regarding its gait. The group, now called Associação Brasileira dos Criadores do Cavalo Mangalarga Marchador (ABCCMM), boasts 7,000 members and close to 190,000 registered horses. In its effort to preserve and perfect the essential characteristics of the breed, the ABCCMM holds annual tests and competitions where conformation and type, gait and functional performance are being judged.
Germany was the first foreign country to be conquered by the Mangalarga Marchador breed by the end of the 1980’s. Today, there is already a well established German Mangalarga Marchador breeders association and the horses compete around the country. The breed can also be found in Portugal, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and many South American countries. The Brazilians, Gabriel Andrade and Lucas Guerra have pioneered the introduction of the Mangalarga Marchador to the United States in 1991 bringing some horses to Miami, Florida.