The Alter Stud Farm was created in 1748 as part of a new stud policy, begun in 1708 by King D. João V, a consequence of European fashion.
Dominating the stud politics, was the deep conviction that the national identity and the plastic and artistic characterization of Picaria Real would have to be based on the national production of saddle horses of Alta Escola.
The Alter Stud Farm will be installed at Coutada do Arneiro, owned by Casa de Bragança, being the oldest and most remarkable Portuguese Stud Farm and, in the world, it takes the longest to operate continuously in the original seat.
It is to King D. José I that, almost entirely, the merit of the installation and structuring of the Alter Stud Farm belongs to.
The initial core of the herd was entirely mares, most of them purposely acquired in Spain.
In the process of widening the grazing area, at the end of 1757, the Azambuja foal was organized to function as a complementary structure of the Alter Stud Farm, for recreation of the foals after weaning.
Between 1770 and 1800 the Picaria Real reached the maximum splendor, for which was also decisive the teaching of the, Ribeiro-Mor, D. Pedro de Meneses, 4th Marquis of Marialva. This period also reflects the 1790 edition of " A Luz da liberal e nobre arte da cavalaria" by Manoel Carlos de Andrade, Chipper of Picaria Real.
In 1787, Queen D. Maria I decided to create a new arena, more in keeping with the lady of the Picaria Real and immediately began its construction. The new Neoclassical style arena was opened in 1793, and we can see it by visiting the National Coach Museum.
It's not just in the arena that the Alter Real shine. They also shine in the Terreiro do Paço in the statue that Machado de Castro carved in 1775, to the glory of King D. José I, mounted in an Alter-Real, the Gentle and in the splendor of the Gala processions, mirror of the power and grandeur of the Court and of the country.
During the nineteenth century, the instability of national life was reflected in the administrative and technical life of the Alter Stud Farm.
From 1842 to 1910, Stud Farm went through great difficulties and jolts, it was breeding time. At this point, what is wanted is completely different: firstly, the production of shooting horses is intended and, secondly, the production of racehorses, making the Alter Real secondary.
Once the bad results of the introduction of Arab and shooting blood into the alter herd were found, from 1876 the Alter Real breeders were used again.
Proclaimed the Republic and seized the crown assets, Stud Farm was transferred in March 1911 to the Ministry of War through the Technical Commission of Remonta. Stud Farm thus becomes Military Stud Farm.
The aim of the Alter do Chão Military Stud Farm had clear development intentions.
But there was a strong persistence at the crossroads absorbing the Alter Real and producing sports horses.
In 1939, due to the increasing mechanization of the military, the Ministry of War's horse-breeding services were extinguished.
In 1942 the Alter do Chão Military Stud Farm was extinguished and the estates and the herd were integrated into the Ministry of Economy.
In its place emerged Alter Stud Farm under the jurisdiction of the Directorate General of Livestock Services.
The objective was immediately defined, being that the recovery of the Alter Real, at the time almost in extinction. The work towards this goal begins in 1942 from 11 mares and 3 stallions. The mares, the only pure Alter Real received from Military Stud Farm and the three breeders, “Regedor” and “Vigilante” (Breeders acquired at auction in 1938 by Dr. Ruy D'Andrade who now gives them to the state) and “Marialva II ”(From Stud Farm of Dr. Fontes Pereira de Melo, in which always ruled Alter Real blood). It was based on these three breeders that until 1979 the recovery of Alter Real was achieved.
From 1980 onwards, a constant work of specialization of the Alter Real Horse in Alta Escola has been carried out. It has been most sought after and fully attained since the launch in 1979 of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, following what was the Picaria Real.
In 1996 steps are taken to intensify Alter Stud Farm's activity through the Integrated Development Program, which ran until 2006.
In 2007 Alter Stud Farm was integrated at the Alter Real Foundation, maintaining its background mission, breeding and appreciation of the Lusitano Alter Real horse.
On the 2nd of August of 2013, Alter Stud Farm is now managed by Companhia das Lezírias, SA, and has been attributed to it through the delegation of public service competence, the preservation of the animal genetic heritage of the Lusitanian breed, either in the genetic line of the National Stud Farm, either on the Alter Real line.